Back in late July of 2012, this fan of Geoffrey Hughes was saddened to learn that he had lost his battle with prostate cancer. He was only 68. Over this past year, we have lost a lot of talented people who made up the British television community but for me, the passing of Geoffrey felt a little more personal. I never met him and to be honest, I really know him best from one program and that is his role of Onslow in Keeping Up Appearances. I guess what makes it so personal for me is the thought of my younger years living at home, watching this series with my mom on weeknights on KTCA. Back then, I was meticulous to record the program on VHS for my own personal library of British television series.
It was the mid-1990s and I was living at home and working at a local TV station. I was doing a job that I didn’t really care for and watching these programs on KTCA from 10-11pm every night was a wonderful way to wind down. It was fun to watch it with my Mom because it proved to me that British television was not different from regular television; good comedy was good comedy. Good actors could make good comedy and it didn’t matter what side of the “pond” you were onto watch it. Normally during this period all sorts of series would be played on KTCA but if I was lucky, they would show Are You Being Served? and Keeping Up Appearances one after another each night. There was a reason why my Mom loved Keeping Up Appearances. The series was about a middle-class house wife who felt that they were more important in society than they really were. Hyacinth Bucket (she pronounces it Bouquet but it is Bucket) would do anything in her power to try to be perceived as an influential member of society. In fact, she annoys everyone. She even gets annoyed at the postman for delivering mail to her house using a second class postage stamp! He can try to explain to her it has nothing to do with the post office but she will never listen. Hyacinth reminds my Mom of a member of our family. Not someone in our immediate family but a family member all the same. Now, the member of our family was never, ever as bad as that but Hyacinth was the one who always talked and her husband Richard was the quiet one. Just like these family members. We would affectionately laugh at it. There was someone else in the series who became my favourite character of Keeping Up Appearances, a man by the name of Onslow.
Onslow’s Birthday is about how Hyacinth thinks because her other sister Rose is seeing a Greek Shipping Millionaire that this is her time to impress this guy and hopefully be somehow able to climb the social ladder. This all centers around Onslow’s birthday as they all have to go out and stop by to pick up Hyacinth and Richard. This is important because this millionaire has a limousine. Hyacinth is so excited for this that she brings all the influential people she knows around to her house for hor d'oeuvres. The problem is when they finally show up at Hyacinth’s house it’s not in a limousine but a hearse. What’s even worse is that Onslow has to dress up in a suit and tie…..on his birthday!
In A Job for Richard, Hyacinth sees that there is a Managing Director position opening up a Frosticles frozen food factory. This would be perfect for Richard but he cannot just apply like an ordinary person, Hyacinth has a plan. Richard needs to look dynamic to the head Frosticle himself so Hyancinth has come up with a plan where her and Richard will run into the owner of Frosticles on the golf course. Then, out of the bushes Onslow will come out in his normal attire. Hyacinth will ask Richard to remove that “sinister” man from the golf course thus impressing everyone. Onslow is bigger than Richard so the sight of him strong-arming Onslow out of the golf course is pretty amusing. Of course fun turns to tragedy as the group from Frosticles run into a couple of real bullies and they ask Richard to take care of those unsavory characters too. Richard doesn’t do so well this time.
Next week: I take a look at the first episode of a long-time favourite, Jeeves & Wooster with Bertie and Honoria Glossop. A magnificent show that needs to be viewed immediately if you have not seen it before. Upcoming DVD reviews include Doctor Who: The Ambassadors of Death & The Claws of Axos, Special Branch: Set 1, Midsomer Murders set, and Thomas & Sarah complete series. Plus starting in a week, I start reviewing a movie franchise that has been running for 50 years.
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