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Every now and then, television gives us characters who are both incredibly distinctive and imminently quotable. Keeping Up Appearances‘ Hyacinth Bucket (that's BOUQUET!) is one such character.
Writer Roy Clarke is the mastermind behind both Keeping Up Appearances and the later prequel, Young Hyacinth. If you're a big fan of British TV, you may also recognize him as the writer who gave us Open All Hours, Still Open All Hours, Potter, and Last of the Summer Wine. Of course, the most impressive part is that he was the SOLE writer for Last of the Summer Wine.
For those who don't already know, Last of the Summer Wine was the world's longest-running sitcom, airing for 37 years, 31 series, and 295 episodes. Apparently, he didn't think that was enough hard work because he also did a two-season prequel called First of the Summer Wine.
I mention all of that because without the writer, there IS no memorable character. We all see Dame Patricia Routledge and the amazing job she did playing Hyacinth, but it does take two – both writer and actor.
Where to Watch Keeping Up Appearances?
Before we dive into the quotes, we should mention that Keeping Up Appearances is currently available to stream on BritBox. You can start your free one-week trial of BritBox HERE and immediately begin enjoying hundreds of new and classic British TV shows.
Top 20 Memorable Hyacinth Bucket Quotes From Keeping Up Appearances
No, you cannot have a number 24, nor a double portion of 37. This isn't the Chinese takeaway. This is a private slimline white telephone with no connection whatsoever to any business or trade. Especially not one of foreign extraction!
There's nothing like Hyacinth getting taken down a notch by someone trying to order a Chinese takeaway on her beloved slimline white telephone. This particular exchange comes from Series 1, Episode 1: Daddy's Accident.
Rose, you will not commit suicide. I forbid it!
This brilliant exchange is from Series 1, Episode 2: The New Vicar. Some modern audiences may cringe at her lack of mental health awareness, but so much of Hyacinth's charm is wrapped up in her total lack of awareness of anything that isn't a status indicator.
Elizabeth, if you could pass round my Royal Doulton with the hand-painted periwinkles.
In Series 1, Episode 2: The New Vicar, we see one of many mentions of the infamous Royal Doulton with the hand-painted periwinkles. It's actually a pattern called “Braganza”, manufactured by The Colclough China Company. The Colclough China Company was founded in 1890 and taken over by Royal Doulton in the early 1970s. Braganza was discontinued in the early 1990s.
You CAN still pick up the pattern on eBay from time to time.
Sheridan deserves a father full of executive stress, wearing a bow tie.
In Series 1, Episode 4: The Charity Shop, Hyacinth expresses that she “wonders sometimes about a bow tie” as she's seeing her dear husband off to work. Deadpan, he replies that it wouldn't suit her, and they launch into a discussion about his career trajectory and how his lack of promotions might be tied to his lack of a bow tie.
I hope you're not going to spoil things with lower middle-class humour.
This classic Hyacinth line comes from Series 2, Episode 2: Driving Mrs. Fortescue. Eager to befriend a cantankerous old woman whose sister married a baronet, Hyacinth volunteers herself and Richard to shuttle her around town. As you can say of nearly every episode, it doesn't go according to Hyacinth's plans.
I once caught Richard playing with a frisbee. He said it's one he found, but I've never been sure.
In Series 2, Episode 5: Problems with Relatives, Hyacinth's brother-in-law is stuck in a tree, leading her to pontificate on the way in which men never fully grow up. Just think if he'd actually BOUGHT the frisbee. Heaven forbid!
Now kindly clear this line! There are people of substance in this community who are probably queuing to ring me at this very moment.
In Series 2, Episode 7: Singing for Emmet, Hyacinth is once again stymied by the use of her phone for something other than important social matters.
I've got Elizabeth and Emmet here. You remember Elizabeth, from next door. Her husband works abroad somewhere; one of those Arab countries. Yes, you met her at one one of my candlelight suppers. She drops things.
Nobody can distill people to their very essence quite like Hyacinth does. This Hyacinth quote comes from Series 2, Episode 8: The Toy Store, when she's on the phone with Violet.
How fares the church worldwide then, vicar? For instance, what is the missionary position in China these days?
In Series 2, Episode 10: A Picnic for Daddy, poor, oblivious Hyacinth makes a most impertinent enquiry…
Impulsive Daddy! I hope he's not going to drive at speeds incompatible with my cut-glass condiment set.
In Series 2, Episode 10: A Picnic for Daddy, Hyacinth becomes very worried at the sight of dear Daddy driving off with her tuna mayonnaise.
If there's one thing that distinguishes us from other people, it's the absence of vulgar noises.
In the 1991 Keeping Up Appearances Christmas Special, Hyacinth forces Richard into a Santa suit, and she's most displeased at the noises he makes when the beard gets into his mouth.
I will not have you not thinking in front of the neighbours, Richard.
Flustered at the thought of early retirement, Richard kisses Hyacinth twice and heads back into the house instead of going to work. It's hard to fathom the depth of shame dear Hyacinth felt at having her husband's confusion witnessed by neighbours!
He's behaving very oddly. Oh, I mean nothing dramatic. Just the little signs a wife notices. He wouldn't speak to me when he was up a tree.
In Series 3, Episode 2: Iron Age Remains, Hyacinth gets real and talks about the signs a woman notices when there might be something amiss with her husband. You know, like when he's up in a tree and goes silent and allows hikers to think you're talking to yourself.
Because after everything, THAT is what really lets you know there are issues in your marriage.
Richard, who are you upside down with? I hope it's someone we know.
In Series 3, Episode 2: Iron Age Remains, Hyacinth wants to ensure Richard isn't standing on his head in the garden with a stranger. The shame!
If my Sheridan were here, he'd be appalled.
In Series 3, Episode 2: Iron Age Remains, Daisy and Onslow arrive to let Hyacinth know of some family troubles – namely, that Rose's hormones are running riot and the vicar is at risk. Poor, delicate Sheridan simply wouldn't be able to cope with it.
If there's one thing I can't stand, it's snobbery and one-upmanship. People trying to pretend they're superior. Makes it so much harder for those of us who really are.
If there's one thing Hyacinth can't stand, it's being upstaged by people who are supposed to be beneath her. This one comes to us from Series 3, Episode 4: How to Go on Holiday Without Really Trying, just after Hyacinth's been made aware of a neighbour's upcoming Caribbean holiday.
I've always thought you looked like Mummy's brave little soldier. Well, perhaps not soldier, dear. More like Mummy's brave little poet or interior designer.
Poor Sheridan! He never stood a chance. This one comes from Series 3, Episode 5: Richard's New Hobby.
I hope that's a first-class stamp. I object to having second-class stamps thrust through my letterbox. I should have thought postmen would be trained to recognise first-class stamp houses.
One can only assume these poorly-trained postmen are the result of austerity cuts throughout Britain. This fun scene comes from Series 4, Episode 1: A Job for Richard.
You don't look like someone on business. You look like someone who's gone to fetch a Daddy from a police station.
Perhaps that's because he's about to fetch a Daddy from a police station? In Series 4, Episode 5: Looking at Properties, poor Hyacinth is humiliated when the local police have the temerity to take her dear Daddy down to the police station when he's surely just doing what's best for the nation…
Now listen, horse: I'm not a person to be trifled with.
The look on the horse's face is priceless. This delightful scene comes from Series 4, Episode 6: Please Mind Your Head.
They're invited to my waterside supper with riparian entertainment.
In Series 5, Episode 4: A Riverside Picnic, Hyacinth explains the obvious to the postman. Of COURSE you can't just walk over an invitation when you're inviting someone to a waterside supper with riparian entertainment!
It's my sister, Violet. She's the one with the Mercedes, sauna and a musical bidet. Classical, of course.
Also in Series 5, Episode 4: A Riverside Picnic, we see Hyacinth seizing a fantastic opportunity to remind Elizabeth of her sister's social standing.
I do hope, your Lordship, that someday you'll give me the pleasure of entertaining you at one of my candle-lie slippers. We shall most deferably be having a glass or two of the Dowager Lady Ursula's home-goose wadeberry mine.
In Series 5, Episode 6, Hyacinth unintentionally overindulges in a powerful home-brewed wine. Thank goodness for dear Richard and his infinite patience…I'm not sure I could personally handle a drunken Hyacinth.
Experienced hostess offers her services for your special occasion. Followed by my telephone number.
In Series 5, Episode 10: The Hostess, Hyacinth may have inadvertently advertised herself as prostitute…
For my advanced classes, I shall teach people to sparkle incandescently at their candlelight suppers.
Luckily, Hyacinth followed up her “hostessing” career with a better description of what she hoped to accomplish.
Want More Hyacinth Bucket Quotes & Wisdom?
Keeping Up Appearances is a re-run staple for many PBS stations, but if you'd prefer to binge the whole thing in order, we highly recommend BritBox. BritBox has all 5 seasons plus the specials, along with 300-ish other British shows and movies. You can sign up for a free trial HERE.