Many of you have likely already heard the sad news that veteran British actor Clive Swift passed away this week at the age of 82. According to his agent, the actor, who was best known for his role as Hyacinth Bucket's longsuffering husband Richard in the BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, died at home after a short illness. He was surrounded by his family.
Mr. Swift was born in Liverpool in 1936. He studied English Literature at Cambridge University and was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for a decade before transitioning to mostly television work. Swift appeared in series such as Peak Practice, Born and Bred and The Old Guys. In 2007, he guest starred in the Doctor Who Christmas episode "Voyage of the Damned," where he played Mr. Copper, a ship's historian with a degree in “Earthonomics.”
But it is, of course, his five seasons as Richard Bucket on the early 90’s series Keeping Up Appearances that generations of viewers will most fondly recall. This character he so subtly brought to the screen was a textbook henpecked husband who often allowed his wife to walk all over him. Indeed, the couple frequently found themselves in completely preposterous situations due to Hyacinth’s stubborn insistence on social climbing activities.
But the character of Richard was so much more than just a subservient spouse. He was a paragon of patience, especially when it came to his wife’s constant backseat driving. Hyacinth’s bossy nature coupled with her general indecision made the restraint Richard demonstrated by not throwing her from the car seem almost superhuman.
The concern with social etiquette that consumed his wife mattered not a jot to Mr. Bucket. However, he knew it was vitally important to Hyacinth’s fragile self-confidence. Going along with her rules was his way of affirming her worth even when it involved recruiting family and neighbors as accomplices. As they say, “Happy wife, happy life.”
However, when Hyacinth left the realm of annoying and overstepped into overt rudeness, Richard let her know she had crossed the line.
Clive Swift is beloved for playing a man who navigated a comical marriage with a difficult woman. The Richard Bucket he portrayed was gifted with a long fuse, a good sense of humor and a true affection for his blustery, but insecure wife. Though it certainly wasn’t Mr. Swift's only role, it’s not a bad thing to be remembered for.
Please feel free to share your memories about Clive and any of the roles he played. His talent will be greatly missed by his colleagues and fans around the world.