List of Keeping Up Appearances characters
- 1 Hyacinth and her family
- 2 Animal Characters
- 3 Neighbours and acquaintances
- 4 Religious People
- 5 Other Characters
- 6 See also
Hyacinth and her family
The show's protagonist is the social-climbing snob Hyacinth Bucket (who insists that her surname is pronounced 'Bouquet' with the accent on the second syllable). Hyacinth's primary aims in life are to impress people, particularly of the upper and upper-middle classes, and to give the impression that she is of high social standing, despite her fairly average status. In an attempt to make callers think she is well-off enough to employ domestic staff, she repeatedly (and famously) answers her beloved pearl-white slim line telephone with automatic redial facility with, "The Bouquet residence; the lady of the house speaking." Those around her despise her snobbery, but she is a genuinely kind-hearted and loving person. Hyacinth tries to avoid her poorer or oddly-behaving relatives (Daisy, Onslow, Rose, Daddy and Bruce) and to hide the fact that she was born into the working-class, while boasting about her richer relative (Violet), in order to maintain her vaunted social status. She loves her family dearly (especially in the times of the year it gets dark early) and will rush to their aid in times of need. If people were to find out about her working class origins, she would immediately revert from pretentious middle-class woman putting on airs and graces to working-class social climber, since in English society no one can fully escape the social class one is born into. This facet of the show is often missed by persons not familiar with the intricacies of English hierarchical society.
She frequently refers to or makes preparations for her candlelight suppers, attendance of which almost seem mandatory, but we never actually see one in progress.
Hyacinth is the eldest of four sisters: in birth order, herself, Daisy, Violet and Rose.
Hyacinth's long-suffering husband who is at her beck and call. Richard is a calm, tolerant and relaxed character who cares little for enhancing or preserving social status, and he seems content with his lower-middle class standing. He pronounces his last name, Bucket, as the English word, and snaps to Hyacinth in one episode, "It's not "Bouquet", it's Bucket! It was always Bucket until I met you".
Hyacinth believes that Richard's favourite hobby is gardening and repeatedly forces him to go into the garden to work on it, even though he makes it quite clear that he does not enjoy it. The main reason she nags Richard into constantly doing the gardening is to try to make people believe Richard could afford a gardener, but chooses not to as he enjoys gardening himself.
As shown in the Christmas Special "The Father Christmas Suit", during which Richard is supposed to dress up as Father Christmas, but ends up getting drunk with Emmet, he is proficient in playing the piano (Richard plays the piano while he and Emmet sing "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer") and also appears to have an interest in cricket. Until series three, he works as a civil servant; his exact title is not specified, though Hyacinth states he is the deputy in the council's department of finance and general purposes. He dreads the idea of early retirement as it would mean being with Hyacinth all day, every day for the rest of his life, but is forced into early retirement despite begging and pleading with his boss to come back. In the series five episode, "The Senior Citizens' Outing", he is seen reading a self-help book titled, 'Can You Afford to Retire?'; this is more than likely a means of escaping Hyacinth rather than any fiscal concern. He obeys his domineering wife's orders which usually involve contrived plots to impress neighbours or aristocrats, or a far-fetched plan to avoid Hyacinth's down-market family, whom he actually prefers to the upper-class people Hyacinth is determined to mingle with. Whenever anyone asks how he manages to cope with Hyacinth, he often compares his marriage to like being in the army: every day is routinely planned out for him, and he never has to make any decisions. It is revealed that Richard and Hyacinth are no longer intimate, as Hyacinth does not approve of it at their time of life, and he also says to her that as soon as their son, Sheridan, was born, Hyacinth lost interest in Richard. A few times, Richard has stood up to Hyacinth in public because of her unreasonable behaviour, driving her into shock, but he is usually meek and mild. He drives the car because Hyacinth has not learned to drive, but he says he just steers while Hyacinth gives directions.
Roy Clarke, writer of the show, described Richard as a foil to show Hyacinth's character to worst advantage. Although various characters in the series often express bemusement as to Richard's tolerance for Hyacinth, the cast and crew observe that he simply loves her and that his sense of humour helps get him through.
A happy, lively character, Daisy lives with her slobbish husband Onslow, her man-crazy sister Rose and their senile father. Daisy, Onslow and Rose are the lower-class relatives Hyacinth is ashamed of. Daisy is constantly trying to get her husband to show passion towards her. However, she often fails to rouse any signs of affection from him and, as a result, buries herself in romantic novels. Her other attempts to get Onslow's attention include giving herself a makeover to attract the attention of other men, and getting herself a seventeen-year-old, motorbike-riding toy boy; however, Onslow was not bothered by either of these. Much to Onslow's disbelief, Daisy repeatedly insists he is a "menace to the female sex" and is terrified of the thought of him having another woman. Despite their poor sex life, Daisy and Onslow have a daughter called Stephanie, who appeared only in the final episode of series one, along with her own daughter Kylie and two de facto husbands. Daisy is a Liverpool supporter, which almost resulted in Onslow not marrying her.
Daisy, like her husband, enjoys life in the slow lane; she spends most of her time sitting on the sofa eating, reading romance novels, or watching television. Like Rose and Violet, Daisy turns to Hyacinth for help when faced with a problem, whether it is a love dilemma pertaining to her husband Onslow, or an urgent case of the "missing father" syndrome.
A beer-guzzling, unemployed and apathetic slob intensely despised by Hyacinth, Onslow threatens his sister-in-law's social prestige with his scruffy clothes and common, coarse ways. Onslow is proudly "work shy, bone idle and out of condition", and eats, drinks, and sleeps until noon. He'll watch television all day every day, and rarely moves from his armchair. Nevertheless, Onslow's intellectual reading, and viewing Open University programmes, have made him knowledgeable. His sex drive has slackened off considerably since his youth (as the only thing he consistently says to Daisy during the day is "Is there any more smoky bacon?" or "Any more beer?"), and Daisy's romantic efforts to arouse him are in vain. He is an inattentive husband to Daisy, in that he never takes her out, nor has he ever bought her any jewelry or clothing, and treats her like a dogsbody. It is implied in one episode that Onslow almost didn't marry Daisy after he realized she was a Liverpool supporter. Despite Hyacinth's utter contempt of him, in the Christmas special "Sea Fever", after realizing Onslow and Daisy were holidaying on the QE2 with Hyacinth and Richard after Onslow had won first prize in a national newspaper competition, Hyacinth kindly wished Onslow congratulations and danced with him in the ship's ballroom.
Onslow is good friends with Richard, nicknaming him "Dickie" much to Hyacinth's outrage (though Richard himself does not mind), and often attempts to persuade him not to let Hyacinth browbeat him all the time. Onslow is a gentle and loving character, despite his appearance suggesting otherwise, and is Roy Clarke's favourite character in the show, as stated in the Comedy Connections series. He was played by the late Geoffrey Hughes in all episodes of the show.
Stephanie and Kylie
Stephanie is Daisy and Onslow's daughter. Her daughter (Daisy and Onslow's granddaughter) is named Kylie and is christened in the episode “The Christening”. Hyacinth does not approve of the name Kylie, nor that Stephanie is unmarried and has two male partners who she describes as 'hippies' (one of which is apparently Kylie's father, but not even they know which one). Stephanie and Kylie are not seen or mentioned again in the show, although in one episode of Series Two while pushing Daddy in a wheelchair Daisy says it reminds her of when her and Onslow used to push the baby in the pram.
Hyacinth's youngest, lustful sister, with an eye for married men and a taste for short skirts and 'provocative' outfits. She is another family member of whom Hyacinth is ashamed and who threatens her social prestige. Rose is promiscuous, but also a gentle soul who is a bit mixed up, as Richard says. She has been married before, as in one episode she says to Daisy, "Sometimes I wonder about getting married again, but it puts such a dampener on your love life...", thus implying that she is divorced. She has been engaged countless times over the years yet never actually marries any of her husbands-to-be. Hyacinth is particularly ashamed of Rose, but does care deeply for her. In the episode "Charity Shop", she stands and listens patiently as Rose confides to her about her dysfunctional love life. Hyacinth cheers her up and then kisses her on the cheek before sending her home. She was played by Shirley Stelfox in series 1 and Mary Millar from series 2 on. Stelfox's Rose possessed more of a dry-witted persona with a penchant for short skirts, while Millar's Rose was more over-the-top in both personality and wardrobe. Her surname is unknown.
Violet and Bruce
Violet is Hyacinth's almost-invisible, wealthy sister whom she always brags about variously having a large house, Mercedes, sauna, jacuzzi, swimming pool and room for a pony (though it is never clarified as to whether Violet actually has a pony or merely room for one). She also has a musical bidet. Violet leads a troubled marriage with cross-dressing husband Bruce (who works as a turf accountant) and repeatedly phones Hyacinth to complain about Bruce's mad behaviour, yet Hyacinth insists that she put up with Bruce for the luxurious lifestyle his wealth gives her, particularly the Mercedes. Bruce often confiscates Violet's clothes so he can wear them himself, leaving her with his clothes. Hyacinth does her best to keep the oddities of the latter away from her neighbours and friends. Violet is also the third-eldest of the four sisters and although in the episode, "The Pageant", Bruce states that he and Violet have children, they are never named nor referenced to after this. A sign outside their house reads "The Paddocks", but it is not revealed if Paddock is their last name or merely the name of their property.
While Violet is obviously far more affluent than Hyacinth, she is not the snob Hyacinth is. She is far more accepting of Daisy, Onslow and Rose than Hyacinth, in that she is not embarrassed by them (when told by Hyacinth to find a friend "in the same income bracket" to drive her, Violet calls Onslow and invites her sisters to gate-crash Hyacinth's "waterside supper with riparian entertainments"). Although continually bragging about Violet to her friends, Hyacinth is unable to use Violet and Bruce to her full advantage, being unable to invite them around or introduce them to friends and neighbours due to their volatile marriage or Bruce's costumes. In the episode "A Barbecue at Violet's", when Hyacinth and Richard arrive at Violet's home, they clearly arrive in the middle of a vicious domestic row, in which Violet and Bruce are arguing loudly and hurling objects at each other. Violet eventually wants to divorce Bruce, but Hyacinth frog marches her distraught sister to the vicar in an attempt to change her mind, determined not to lose her one genuine connection to a higher class. Richard is shown to not be fond of Violet, remarking how she is "always moaning", and is dismayed when Hyacinth announces that they will be visiting Violet for a barbecue.
Violet and Bruce are unseen characters for most of the first four series, apart from the occasional glimpse of Bruce in an outlandish costume or partially seen from a distance, but in the fifth series, both Bruce and Violet become recurring characters (played by John Evitts and Anna Dawson respectively) and Violet is revealed as somewhat resembling Rose in appearance.
Daddy is the apparently senile widowed father of Hyacinth, Daisy, Rose and Violet. He lives with Onslow, Daisy and Rose. Hyacinth repeatedly makes bizarre excuses as to why he can't live with her (one being that he brings Sheridan out in a rash), but she does love him dearly, yet his antics and constant requirement for attention put her social standing at risk. Daddy seems unable to keep himself out of trouble. Either chasing women and promising to marry them, or reliving his childhood or World War II experiences, he often goes missing and requires the rescue efforts of his daughters and sons-in-law. It is often said by Richard that the rundown terrace house that Daddy lives in is the one he has lived in all his life, therefore revealing that Hyacinth grew up in the grubby, decrepit area she loathes visiting. Daddy's screen appearances are somewhat rare, and his spoken lines even more so. Although his given name is unknown, his surname is revealed to be Walton in Young Hyacinth.
An unseen character, Sheridan is Hyacinth and Richard's spoiled only son, about eighteen years of age. He is away at college (a poly which Hyacinth insists is of a "university standard" - the first three series were written prior to the Further and Higher Education Act 1992) and is known to audiences primarily through Hyacinth's telephone conversations with him. The major running gag surrounding Sheridan involves him ringing home whenever he needs money, Hyacinth without fail assuming at first that he is "just ringing his mummy". Most of the time, he needs money for ludicrous things that his "friend" Tarquin has suggested, up to and including a walking holiday in Iceland. Although Sheridan usually convinces Hyacinth of his need for the money (much to Richard's exasperation), Hyacinth is very occasionally able to say no. Sheridan and Richard clearly do not get on: Sheridan prefers not to talk to Richard and usually pretends to be someone else whenever he calls and Richard answers the phone. The other running gag is that Richard suspects Sheridan is gay, something which is implied through his love of needlework and desire for pure silk pyjamas, but also because he lives with his male friend, Tarquin, and regularly tries to raise the issue with Hyacinth, only for her to remain totally oblivious of it. A glimpse at the back of Sheridan's head can be seen in the episode "Let There Be Light" while he is in a Taxicab, and during the opening credits, a photograph of him as a young boy is seen on Hyacinth's writing desk; this is the closest he has ever been seen on the show.
Onslow's dog (name not given, but referred to as a female dog by Onslow) is often found in the Hillman Avenger that has been left to rust in the front yard of Onslow's home. Generally placid, the dog, significantly, barks aggressively at only two characters: Hyacinth and Mrs Councillor Nugent, the two most disagreeable characters on the show. In what is arguably the series' most memorable running gag, the dog makes Hyacinth fall into the nearby hedge by barking at her from the car whenever she walks down the path to the house. Onslow clearly cares for the dog, as in the sixth episode of season 5, when one of Daddy's fiancées stays in the old car and the dog isn't there, Onslow goes to look for her. In the same episode, Hyacinth, emboldened by home-made wine bought at an auction, barks at the dog (thinking she's in the car), but is yelled back at by the above-mentioned fiancée of Daddy.
Violet and Bruce's pony
Hardly ever seen and only referenced on the phone or on the gates of Violet's house, the pony is part of a main running gag, which features Hyacinth introducing Violet on the telephone (shouting to Liz, her next-door neighbour, from the corridor) by exclaiming: "The one with the swimming pool, the new Mercedes and room for a pony... But not in the car!" Or replacing the Mercedes part with "...Sauna..." or "...Musical Jacuzzi..." and referencing the joke that there isn't room for it in the Sauna or the Musical Jacuzzi. When Hyacinth and Richard plan on taking Daddy to Violet and Bruce's house, the pony makes a brief cameo in the background, as well as the gates of the house being shown with ponies on them. The stables is also seen briefly in this episode.
Neighbours and acquaintances
Elizabeth ('Liz') Warden
Hyacinth's friendly, tolerant next-door neighbour. Hyacinth calls her Elizabeth, but everyone else calls her Liz. Hyacinth often invites her round for coffee. Aware of Hyacinth's house-proud ways, Elizabeth is terrified of spilling, dropping or breaking anything in her neighbour's home, but ironically, Hyacinth's flighty mannerisms and nagging make Liz especially clumsy in her presence, and she indeed ends up spilling, dropping or breaking something. Unlike most, Liz sympathises with Hyacinth, aware of how she is despised by everyone, including Liz's brother Emmet, and may thus be Hyacinth's only real friend. This friendship is tested by Hyacinth's unthinking put-downs of Elizabeth's dexterity, clothes, car, daughter's intelligence, etc. She also likes Richard quite dearly, has deep sympathy for him and the two seem discreetly fond of each other. Liz has a husband who is frequently away due to his job (he is variously mentioned as being in the Far East or in Saudi Arabia) and a daughter, Gail, at university, who is dating a boy named Harold (liked well enough by Liz but despised by Hyacinth). Mr Warden and Gail are rarely mentioned after the first series.
Emmet is Elizabeth's brother, who lives with her, beginning in series two, after losing his home in a messy divorce. Emmet is a classically trained musician as well as the director for the local theatre, and Hyacinth frequently sings at him, and drops broad hints that he should include her in his work. Hence Emmet is terrified of leaving the house and develops both a fear of and a dislike for Hyacinth, to the point where he burst into tears when Liz told him they had been invited to tea at Hyacinth's "country estate" or explosively losing his temper when trying to rehearse an "Annie Oakley" song which was not in his planned program, but, rather, Hyacinth's program, and she kept criticizing his tempo. However, as the series progresses, Emmet develops a desire for revenge against Hyacinth, notably goading her into riding a horse when he knew she couldn't ride one. In the latter years of the program, Hyacinth makes clear her belief that the reason for Emmet's constant desire to avoid her is that he is shy due to an attraction to her. Upon hearing this, Emmet says, "I think I want to die!"
Michael the Vicar
Michael is the young and handsome vicar of Hyacinth's parish, and, like most, is terrified of Hyacinth, doing his best to avoid her, often unsuccessfully. Moreover, he often forgets that Hyacinth prefers her last name to be pronounced "bouquet" and addresses her as "Mrs. Bucket". When discussing Hyacinth with his wife, they frequently refer to her as "the Bucket woman". He is called "that dishy vicar" by Rose, who often pursues him, much to the anger of his jealous wife. The vicar being caught in compromising positions (which in context are somewhat reasonable) with Rose or other women is a recurring gag in the series, as well as breaking whatever he is holding when his wife mentions Hyacinth, or in one episode, while on an exercise pedal bicycle, pedalling faster, as if to escape.
The Vicar's Wife
Michael's wife, played by Marion Barron, her name is never revealed on the show or in the credits; she is merely listed as "The Vicar's Wife". Michael usually refers to her as "dear." She is a timid yet fiery woman with a soft Scottish accent, often finding her husband in compromising positions with Rose or other young females and assuming the worst. These situations are usually prefaced in an earlier scene where she expresses jealousy over the attention that Michael's female parishioners give him. The vicar's wife dislikes Hyacinth, but as the series goes on, she grows to see more humour in some of Hyacinth's behaviour than other characters do.
The other Vicar
The other vicar (played by Gerald Sim) had a single appearance in the episode "The Christening". He is of an older appearance than Michael the vicar and his church is located at a different location from Michael's church. He knows Onslow, and he gets along well with Onslow (much to Hyacinth's horror).
Mrs. Fortescue (played by Jean Anderson) is the irascible, bossy and inconsiderate widow of a wealthy businessman who is a parishioner at the Buckets' church. Her sister is married to a baronet, which leads Hyacinth to perform favours for her even if they are inconvenient to her and Richard, with hopes of socializing with members of the nobility. Mrs. Fortescue asks for a lift into town - as she has had her own driving license revoked for speeding - and Hyacinth goes to enormous lengths to impress her, even forcing Richard to rehearse how he is going to ring her doorbell. Richard is not fond of Mrs. Fortescue because she hits him with her walking stick. Much to Hyacinth's dismay, Mrs. Fortescue accidentally meets Rose, Daisy and Onslow, and gets on extremely well with them.
Major Wilton Smythe
Major Wilton Smythe, commonly known simply as "the major", only appears in the first two series, and hopelessly lusts after Hyacinth even though he is married to a never-seen wife, whom he refers to as "the ball and chain". He fought in World War II and is a veteran of the British North African Campaign against Erwin Rommel. Major Smythe was wounded in the leg somewhere east of Suez, and he still has "some poxy foreign lead in there somewhere", which causes him to walk with a slight limp. He is brash and forceful, and deeply disliked by Richard. In particular, Richard finds it odd that an "elderly" man like the major prefers whizzing about in a two-seat sports car convertible rather than driving in presumably a more sensible car - the major drives a Morgan Plus 4 (seen in Season 2, episode 4). Despite his irritating behavior, his upper-class status means that Hyacinth refuses to sever contact with the man. At one point she admits "it's a good thing he's a Major... if he were a Sergeant, he wouldn't get a foot past the door!"
Mrs. Councillor Nugent
Mrs Nugent (played by Charmian May) is high up the social ladder but low down the charismatic scale, being a dull, bad-tempered and ill-mannered woman. She swears a lot, and goes on tirades about "excessive romantic behaivor". She also seems to be the only person who can get away with referring to Hyacinth as "Mrs Bucket" without incurring her wrath. In "The Toy Store", when Mrs Nugent yells "Mrs Bucket", Hyacinth can be seen mouthing out "It's Bouquet", meaning she still wants to correct her, but stifles it. Hyacinth tolerates her, not only because of her status, but also because she wants a place on her committee. The committee itself is never identified, nor it is clear if Mrs Nugent or her husband is the Councillor. Hyacinth admits that she doesn't know what the committee does, she just wants a seat on it.
Michael the Postman
Played by Leo Dolan in the first series and by David Janson from 1992 on. He is slightly impertinent, yet overwhelmed by Hyacinth Bucket, of whom he lives in fear, but tries to confront her when she pounces on him, when he delivers (occasionally throws) mail to her letterbox.
Another of Hyacinth's social rivals, Mrs. Hawksworth (no relation to Emmet) earned Hyacinth's ire during one of her candlelight suppers, when she obnoxiously commented that Hyacinth's kiwi fruit were "lower middle-class", and further rubbed Hyacinth up the wrong way by boasting about her recent holiday in Corfu. By this behavior, it can be assumed that she too is as snobbish as Hyacinth. In the episode, "The Rolls Royce", Hyacinth was outraged at losing to Lydia in a flower arranging contest, and even further dismayed that Lydia had acquired a flashy new Jaguar. She then began a scheme to show her up, by visiting an exclusive garage and convincing the owner to let her "test drive" a Rolls Royce. However, Hyacinth badgered Richard into driving the Rolls out to the country club where Mrs. Hawksworth often went, and the vehicle was reported as stolen. Hyacinth was apprehended by police officers as soon as Mrs. Hawksworth arrived.
Seldom seen but referred to constantly, Sonia Barker-Finch lives in the same street as Hyacinth, just opposite her own home in Number 23, Villa Costa Blanca. Above all her other acquaintances, Hyacinth is convinced that Mrs. Barker-Finch is her greatest social rival; however, Mrs. Barker-Finch does not seek to outdo Hyacinth in any way, and generally wants nothing to do with her at all. Although Hyacinth invites Mrs. Barker-Finch to parties and dinners, Mrs. Barker-Finch never attends. Presumably, she is the only person bold enough to decline one of Hyacinth's dreaded invitations. Hyacinth hypocritically believes Mrs. Barker-Finch to be a snob ("She was a Barker, he was a Finch, now suddenly they're hyphenated") and is determined to get one up on her at every opportunity. She also believes Mrs. Barker-Finch is inferior to her, exampled when Hyacinth hears that Mrs. Barker-Finch has been burgled for the third time, rather than sympathise with her, she accuses Mrs. Barker-Finch of being "pretentious", and opines that only a "low-class burglar" would rob Number 23. Hyacinth becomes unreasonably jealous whenever Mrs. Barker-Finch has some form of social success, such as having a local celebrity dine at her barbecue, or goes on a luxurious holiday, and becomes adamant that she will do better than her. When Hyacinth ordered her new three-piece suite "an exact replica of the one at Sandringham House", she went to extraordinary lengths to ensure Mrs. Barker-Finch saw it being delivered, such as repeatedly phoning her so that she would have to come to the window and see the delivery van pull up. (An ill-timed phone call from Sheridan to ask for money fouled the plan up.) But, as it turned out, the van was seen to crash into a verge, and Daisy and Onslow's hired van turns up just as this happens... They deliver the three-piece suite to Hyacinth's house, which Mrs. Barker-Finch then sees from her window, due to the amount of noise Onslow's truck is making. Hyacinth then gives Daisy, Onslow and Rose her old suite, because Daisy is planning to get rid of their own suite too.
The Garden Centre manager
CP Benedict is the prominent owner of the local garden centre and is invited to Hyacinth's "indoor-outdoor barbecue" simply because he has appeared on the television. After hearing that Mrs. Barker-Finch had invited a wealthy building merchant to her barbecue, Hyacinth became livid and was determined to show her up. After Richard unwisely remarked that he occasionally saw CP Benedict, Hyacinth immediately searched the town, the bank and the garden centre for him apparently "looking at flowers". Hyacinth then finds him and the manager agrees to come to her barbecue. Amazed that a "celebrity" is attending her barbecue, Hyacinth prepares the other guests for his arrival - and winds up rattled when he turns out to be one of Rose's old boyfriends.
The manager only appears in one episode.