Rent Keeping Up Appearances (1990 - 1995)

3.9 of 5 from 56 ratings
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Keeping Up Appearances is a British comedy series that follows the actions of an eccentric elderly woman. The series follows Hyacinth Bucket (Patricia Routledge), a woman who is intent on associating with the higher classes of society despite the many people in her life she looks down on. The series follows the various uncomfortable situations Hyacinth gets herself into with her lack of manners and her complete disregard of peoples feelings and how she tries to get herself out of them, something that always seems to backfire on her.
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Harold Snoad
Roy Clarke
Universal Pictures
British TV, TV Classics, TV Comedies, TV Sitcoms
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Reviews (1) of Keeping Up Appearances

An excellent & essential comedy series satirising the British class system, with great performances - Keeping Up Appearances review by TB

Spoiler Alert

A mainstay of British comedy in the 90's, which also was an enormous hit all over the world.

Hyacinth Bucket (which she insists is pronounced "Bouquet") is an extremely eccentric, snobbish & social climbing woman who lives with her long-suffering and hen-pecked husband Richard. Hyacinth is obsessed with social class, or to be more accurate, to be seen to be a higher class than she actually is in real life. Having come from a large Northern family with 3 sisters born into relative poverty, she then effectively becomes middle-class through her marriage & property ownership. However, she aspires to move in more privileged circles & to be seen as enormously influential, wealthy & upper-class.

The series's chart her various exploits in her trying & often spectacularly failing to impress either someone she wishes to emulate or to show people her supposed superiority.

For me, the absolute best thing about this series is the writing, as well as the showing of the different classes & satirising the stereotypes around them. For example, consistently the nicest & most genuine characters in the show are the people who Hyacinth turns her nose up at. The working classes, which she is emphatically a part of in some way through her early life & upbringing, are almost all genuine, decent & solidly dependable people. And the people who are the type Hyacinth will do almost anything to impress are either indifferent/horrified by her or absolutely repugnant individuals who treat her and everyone else with disdain.

Another great & powerful theme which this series shows repeatedly is that money doesn't make you happy/large amounts of wealth doesn't mean you have a great life. The happiest & most content relationship in the series is Daisy & Onslow, who live in a council house & are on the dole. At the other end of the spectrum is Violet and Bruce, who are fabulously wealthy, live in a massive mansion & are constantly at each other's throats.

As Hyacinth, Patricia Routledge is absolutely note-perfect. I also enormously admired her willingness to do almost all of the stunts & physical comedy herself. Her portrayal of snobbery is also massively informed by Routledge's enormous disdain & disgust for people like her character. Although Hyacinth obviously is the central protagonist, the supporting cast/characters are all excellently written. My own favourite is Onslow, played by Geoffrey Hughes, a man who in his own words is "proudly work-shy & bone idle." The comic timing of Hughes is so perfect that just his look of disdain & confusion when he wakes up in the morning & props himself up in bed is hysterical. His wife Rose, played by Judy Cornwell, is a perfect match for the double act between them.

Finally, what I also loved about this whole series & which is clear from the first episode is just how much the cast enjoyed working together. Whether in the actual show itself or the outtakes, the chemistry, bond & fun they all had working together leaps out of the screen. You are happy to spend many hours in their company, as well as cringing at Hyacinth's latest desperate attempt to convince a neighbour or counsellor that she is posh enough to be invited to the Captain's table on the QE2.

The only reason this didn't get 5 stars and also why Patricia Routledge left the show & moved on to other projects was that, especially in the last series, there was a notable decline in the quality of the writing. A lot of the situations that were created did start to feel recycled & samey, which is a huge shame given the excellent episodes before.

But this should absolutely not put you off. This is fantastic, hysterical British comedy with some of our best comedy performances, as well as a brilliant biting satire of the class system.

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