Characters: Keeping Up Appearances
Hyacinth Bucket ("Bouquet")
The main protagonist, if you want to call her that.
Hyacinth Bucket (or "Bouquet" as she prefers
) is a pompous middle-class woman living in The Midlands
with her husband Richard. Determined to be a Grande Dame
, Hyacinth's snobbish ways make her come off as a Jerk Ass
. Her numerous attempts to climb the ladder of classes often fail due to her own incompetence, the unexpected appearance of her lower class family members, or other reasons.
- Berserk Button: It's pronounced "Bouquet"! That doesn't stop even her from forgetting on occasion, as seen in one of the Christmas Episodes.
- British Stuffiness
- Catch Phrase: When on the phone, she says "The Bouquet residence, the lady of the house speaking."
- Cloud Cuckoolander
- Daddy's Girl: One of her redeeming aspects is her open care for her father, despite being an insane Dirty Old Man that completely contrasts with her attempts at grandeur.
- Doting Parent: Implied to have been for Sheridan. She still is.
- Grande Dame: Her goal.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf
- House Wife
- Hypocritical Humor: This trope was meant for her. She frequently denies bragging about herself or her supposed social status after doing just that and states several times that she hates snobbery.
- Incoming Ham: Head for the hills! It's the Bucket woman!
- Informed Attractiveness: The Major, an admiral, and the Spanish Mr. Ferrini find Hyacinth irresistible, as does she herself. "It's as if he's never seen an attractive woman!"
- Innocently Insensitive: To a delusional degree.
- Insistent Terminology: Towards her last name.
- It Is Pronounced Tropay: "It's 'Bouquet'".
- It's All About Me: Often to extremely exasperating degrees.
- Jerk Ass
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: For all her social climbing, a lot of her pompous antics have some sort of well intention. She is more inconsiderate and affectionately suffocating to Richard than intentionally abusive or callous and often attempts (badly) to improve his lifestyle in some manner. She also very earnestly loves her daddy and is infuriated by her relatives' occasionally neglectful treatment of them, and is implied to love her son devotedly (albeit to the extent of spoiling him).
- Large Ham
- Mama Bear
- Never My Fault: Oh boy! The Cruise Special is a good example when she blames Richard for getting too late on the cruise. He was simply driving the car while she was giving instructions where to go.
- Nosy Neighbor
- Only Sane Man: Considers herself this among her family. Everyone sees her as the nutcase. Episodes tend to flip flop which side is closer to the truth.
- Rich Bitch: Hyacinth is a strange subversion; she acts like she's got high social standing, and wants to appear wealthy and cultured, criticizing other people's tendency to be "economical", but she and Richard are hardly millionaires.
- Running Gag: Her frights from Onslow's dog, causing her to fall into a nearby hedge.
- Her phone calls cause her to say her catch phrase.
- She is often called by customers for the local Chinese takeaway, since their numbers are only one digit removed.
- Much to her annoyance. In fact, in one episode, she had Richard call the Chinese ambassador to get the company to change their number, to no avail.
- Selective Obliviousness
- A Simple Plan: Hyacinth's plots to raise her social status.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Hyacinth. In the final episode, she presumes to tell God how to pronounce her name, yelling to Richard, "Tell God it's 'Bouquet'!"
- She's this to a lesser degree in the Cruise Special. She gets paranoid if the crew somehow has left the captain stranded. Richard tells her it's unlikely they would have done that, she replies "they left me!" Notice that she said "me" and not "us".
- Social Climber: She's a dissatisfied woman seeking to vault up the social ladder from her lowly middle class retiree status, who fails miserably and humiliatingly.
- Stepford Smiler: Sort of...but not really. She constantly puts on a show of being idyllically happy in order to make people think they're high class, but she's never really shown to be particularly unhappy in any way. The large majority of times, she finally cracks by the end of the episode's catastrophes however.
- Unsatisfiable Customer
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist
- Villain Protagonist
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: See Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
Hyacinth's long-suffering Henpecked Husband
. Working as a local government official, Richard is forced into early retirement and becomes a Reluctant Retiree
. He is Hyacinth's Bumbling Sidekick
, chauffering her around and is often pushed about by her, although they still love each other.
- Archnemesis Dad: Seems this way with Sheridan, dreading every time his son makes a phone call, usually asking for money. This changes when Richard realises his son may be Ambiguously Gay.
- Awful Wedded Life
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: As maddening as Hyacinth is to be around, she genuinely loves her husband and he evidently loves her as he continues to live with her and supports her on her hairbrained schemes, albeit reluctantly.
- Badass Grandpa: The fact he puts up with Hyacinth on a daily basis earns him this trope.
- Bumbling Sidekick
- Butt Monkey
- Deadpan Snarker
- Henpecked Husband: However, in one episode, he loses his patience with Hyacinth and orders her to stop messing around and get back in the car. She complies.
- Heroic BSOD: Upon learning he is to become retired, he spends much of the episode in a daze.
- Just Eat Gilligan
- Nervous Wreck
- Nice Guy: To enduring degrees.
- No Accounting for Taste
- Only Sane Man
- Reluctant Retiree: Upon learning he is to be let go, Richard breaks down in tears. It is, however, not so much the thought of losing the job as it is the thought of spending more time with his wife...
- Women Are Wiser: Inverted.
Hyacinth's brother-in-law and the husband of her sister Daisy. Onslow is a Lazy Bum
who spends most of his time watching TV and drinking beer, with little interest in his wife's brooding antics and Hyacinth's snobbish attitude. However, he is actually Brilliant but Lazy
, very philosophical and intelligent. He lives in a council house with Daisy, her sister Rose, their father Daddy and the family dog.
- The Alleged Car: Onslow's beatup 1978 Ford Cortina that usually blasts out a burst of fumes whenever it starts up or stops. Hyacinth is usually against riding in the car unless it is necessary.
- Brilliant but Lazy: He's sitting in front of the TV all day, but is very intelligent and eloquent when he wants to.
- Catch Phrase: "Oh, nice!"
- Deadpan Snarker
- Fat Bastard: At times, usually towards Hyacinth or Daddy.
- Genius Slob
- Hidden Depths: Watches a lot of Open University programming and often humorously ponders major questions from science and philosophy.
- Informed Attractiveness: Daisy finds Onslow's body fascinating. He can't understand why.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lazy, obnoxious and slobbish, but he puts up with deranged family just as much. He is also thoroughly sympathetic towards Richard and occasionally attempts to provide some sort of escape from his oppressed life.
- Lazy Bum: Spends much of his time sleeping or watching TV, in a vest and cap.
- Limited Wardrobe: He's almost only seen in his signature outfit, a worn out vest and a cap, but he does wear some fancy suits in the Cruise Special.
- Percussive Maintenance: Onslow turns on the TV by bashing the top of it.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: A more passive aggressive case, but him and Hyacinth constantly clash due to their very different lifestyles and occasional interfering nature (Hyacinth attempts to make Onslow more etiquette savvy, while Onslow attempts to break Richard free from Hyacinth's overbearing grasp).
- What Does She See in Him?: Hyacinth's attitude towards Onslow and Daisy, often pointing out Onslow's lazy behaviour. However, she is willing to accept and/or ask Onslow for help depending on the situation.
- In the 1993 Christmas Episode, Hyacinth is accidentally kissed by Onslow when she dresses in a Santa Claus outfit, Elizabeth having dressed in it beforehand. Hyacinth is so shocked, she drops her usual attitude and invites all her family and friends back to her house for dinner, realizing the meaning of Christmas is family and good will to all men.
- Another incident occurs in the cruise special, where Hyacinth thinks Onslow and Daisy have stowed away. She learns that they actually won a prize to a first class holiday on the QE2, much to her irritation. However, wishing to make amends for her shame, Hyacinth dances with Onslow during the ship's ball. Onslow then makes a quip about "eating with the crew", not realising what dining at the captain's table meant, and Hyacinth laughs her head off.
Hyacinth's sister and Onslow's wife. She is similarly lazy to her husband, but more concerned about her father than he is. She often reads romantic novels, longing for the distant Onslow to show her some passion in their lives, often prompting her to make romantic passes at him.
Hyacinth's youngest sister. Still maintaining her looks, Rose is usually with a new man on an episodic basis. She has a stalker-like crush on Emmet and the Vicar.
Elizabeth "Liz" Warden
Hyacinth's next door neighbour and best friend. While she genuinely likes Hyacinth, she becomes a nervous wreck whenever invited over for coffee, spilling it all over the floor and usually destroying Hyacinth's prized china tea set. Her husband is working in Saudi Arabia.
- Butt Monkey: Often becomes this if Richard is unavailable.
- Drop-In Character: Usually against her will.
- Extreme Doormat
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Her husband who is only mentioned in the show, but is never named.
- Just Drink Elizabeth: Often forced to attend Hyacinth's coffee invites regardless.
- Nice Girl: Similar to Richard, is kinda and enduring to Hyacinth to applaudable degrees.
- Nosy Neighbor: Hyacinth acts like this on Elizabeth occasionally.
- Running Gag: Elizabeth's hilarious mishaps with the coffee, often caused by sudden sounds which cause her to jump. Hyacinth tries to combat her clumsiness by giving her a beaker, but it still does not work. Elizabeth uses a straw on one occasion to drink, but Hyacinth bins it.
Elizabeth's brother who moves in with her after he had a shaky divorce. A talented musician, Emmet unfortunately attracts Hyacinth interest in theatre and she badly sings whenever she sees him. Emmet often hides indoors until he can flee to work.
- Berserk Button: Often occurs when Hyacinth drives him over the edge.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Dreadful Musician: Sees Hyacinth as this.
- Lonely Piano Piece: Will play these when depressed by Hyacinth.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: Make that an ominous piano. Emmet will play the Funeral March melody to emphasize a doom and gloom moment.
- Running Scared: From Hyacinth. And with good reason.
- Scary Musician, Harmless Music
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: A one sided case compared to Onslow, but Emmet seems to be created for the purpose of a main character who far more openly and aggressively loathes Hyacinth, compared to the long suffering but sympathizing Richard and Elizabeth or passive aggressive Onslow. Granted she's usually far too deluded to notice.
The father of Hyacinth, Daisy, Rose and Violet. A World War II veteran
, now a senile, Dirty Old Man
who lives with Onslow, Daisy and Rose. He is in a world of his own
, often sneaking out of the house to chase down women
, join the foreign legion or go on some sort of madcap adventure before being retrieved by his family.
The Vicar and His Wife
Introduced in episode two, the Vicar (or Michael) becomes another one of Rose's romantic interests, and is terrified of Hyacinth whenever she appears. He often refers to her as "The Bucket Woman". His wife is more able to deal with Hyacinth, but has a habit of mistaking the Vicar for having a fling with Rose.
Hyacinth and Richard's son. He never appears in the show aside from a couple of cameos where his face is unseen, and always calls his mother. He often asks for money, much to Richard's angry disgust. He attends college, with a roommate called Tarquin. It is implied he may be Ambiguously Gay
- Ambiguously Gay: Hyacinth never wonders why her son dropped all of his lessons in college aside from designing clothes.
- Richard sincerely asks Hyacinth: "Do you ever wonder why Sheridan doesn't show any interest in girls?" As usual, Hyacinth is off in her own world and pays him no attention.
- The Faceless
- Genre Savvy: Seems to know to talk only to his mother, who is far more willing to cave in to his relentless demands for money.
- The Ghost
- He Who Must Not Be Seen
- Spoiled Brat: Implied to have been and still is with the amount of money Hyacinth sends to him with every phone call.
Violet and Bruce
Hyacinth's third sister, who was mostly unseen except for a few appearances in the last season. Much respected by Hyacinth for having married a wealthy turf-accountant Bruce, her life isn't as idyllic as Hyacinth likes to make out due to her husband's penchant for women's clothes. Violet and Bruce both face divorce in the final season
- Awful Wedded Life: Despite Hyacinth's attempts to insist otherwise. Bruce crossdresses, wears Violet's dresses and has a passion for horses.
- The Ghost: Violet until Season 5, Bruce cameoing and did not get a proper talking role until the very last episode.
- Phrase Catcher: She's the one with the Mercedes, sauna and room for a pony.
- Toilet Seat Divorce: The two nearly split up twice but they don't in the end.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Bruce is shown and mentioned crossdressing on numerous occasions.