"The Bouquet residence, lady of the house speaking!"
"My name is Bouquet, B-U-C-K-E-T." "Oh! Bucket!" "It's pronounced 'Bouquet'..."
Hyacinth Bucket (apparently pronounced 'Bouquet', as she's often heard correcting people), social climber extraordinaire. Snobby, shallow, and blissfully unaware of how much everyone hates her (rich or poor), Hyacinth is desperately worried that she isn't upper-class enough.Considering her family—Rose, Onslow, Daisy, etc.—she definitely isn't.Obsessed with improving her social status, Hyacinth routinely rides roughshod over everyone unlucky enough to know her, assuming they are an admiring chorus who will do whatever she wants. No matter how firmly they tell her "No," she only hears "Yes, my lady." She's also blind to the abundant evidence that her son is anything other than her idea of perfect. Her numerous schemes to improve her social status and show-off to all around her, however, are often scuttled by her own lack of intelligent thought and planning.Her husband, Richard, is long-suffering verging on sainthood. Her neighbour and reluctant confidante, Elizabeth, is a nervous wreck largely because Hyacinth routinely summons her over for coffee — and then details how rare and valuable her china is just as Elizabeth's about to take a sip. Elizabeth's musician brother Emmet is not quite so cowed, but still hides from Hyacinth for fear that "she'll sing at me." Hyacinth tells Richard of Emmet's crush on Hyacinth. Emmet does not have a crush on Hyacinth, but instead delights in her absence and pain, and complains about her presence.Hyacinth's other sisters, Daisy and Rose, are both much lower class, with a junked car permanently parked in their front garden. A dog lives in the car and barks only at Hyacinth, causing her to fall onto a hedge. Daisy is a down-to-earth type rather in awe of Hyacinth's pretensions; Rose is the local Hard Drinking Party Girl whose sex-life provides much of the incidental comedy — especially her crush on Hyacinth's (very married) parish vicar. Daisy's husband, Onslow, looks like a stereotypical lazy slob, and completely ignores all his wife's amorous efforts, but over the course of the series is revealed — in comic contrast with Hyacinth — as an armchair philosopher often seen reading graduate-level texts. He has a sort of survivor's bond with Richard, whom he occasionally tries to "rescue."Hyacinth has another sister Violet who, in contrast to Daisy and Rose, is very wealthy. Hyacinth even boasts about her to guests when she is on the telephone with her ("It's my sister Violet! She's the one with the Mercedes, sauna, and room for a pony!") Despite this, Hyacinth tries to keep at bay the cross-dressing antics of Violet's turf accountant (i.e., bookmaker) husband Bruce. At first an unseen character for most of the show, Violet physically appears a number of times in the last series.Came twelfth in Britain's Best Sitcom.
Amusement Park: Hyacinth takes some elderly people to one for 'charitable purposes'. You're not fooling anyone Hyacinth, one glimpse of you grinning on the merry-go-round and we've learned you actually love fun fairs.
Awful Wedded Life: Poor Richard deserves a sainthood for putting up with her for all those years.
Also, despite Hyacinth framing it in idyllic terms (because the guy's loaded), it's pretty clear that Violet's marriage is painfully unhappy.
(Answering the phone) "The Bouquet residence! The lady of the house speaking!" (Hyacinth)
"It's my sister Violet. She's the one with a swimming pool, sauna, room for a pony."
"It's my sister Daisy. She's not the one with a swimming pool, sauna, room for a pony."
Character Tics: Characters on the show have a tendency to repeat phrases over and over. In fact, all Roy Clarke's characters tend to repeat phrases over and over. They do. They repeat things. Over and over.
Clip Show: The Memoirs of Hyacinth Bucket (Rare for a British Show).
It's also unique as it was produced directly for the American market and broadcast on PBS complete with breaks so that PBS stations airing the program could take time out to ask for viewer support.
The Ghost: Hyacinth's other sister Violet, who is married to "turf accountant" Bruce, is constantly mentioned but never seen.
Except in the final season, when she became an occasional character.
Before that, she was a phone-only character who regularly phoned Hyacinth, mostly to complain about Bruce and his cross-dressing.
A better example would be Hyacinth and Richard's son Sheridan, who is mentioned in almost every episode, and who phones regularly to ask for money, yet is never actually seen.
Elizabeth's husband, who is working abroad.
Gold Digger: Hyacinth encourages this behavior in others, pointing out the advantages of Violet's husband Bruce's new Mercedes (and the large house with the swimming pool and room for a pony) when Violet muses splitting off from Bruce. She also tries to help Rose land a rich husband, although very few of her beaus are ever wealthy - it's just Hyacinth's social climbing-colored glasses getting in the way.
Elizabeth's husband, who is said to be working in Saudi Arabia, and her daughter, Gail.
Hyacinth's sister and brother-in-law, Violet and Bruce, are often mentioned during the first four series. However, Violet is never seen while Bruce makes occasional nonspeaking cameos, often doing something that embarrasses Hyacinth. This is averted in the final series when they become recurring characters.
Heroic BSOD: The one time Richard ever dares to speak up to her, Hyacinth shuts down completely and mindlessly does what he asks without protest...for a little while.
Hilarity Ensues: Hyacinth tricks Richard into stealing a car, and then she blames him, but neither of them is known to suffer any legal consequence. As in this page's entry for Mood Whiplash, stuff blows up and a car chase happens, but no one is hurt or killed.
She wanted a ride in a Rolls-Royce and conned the dealer into a test drive. Richard was nervous about driving a car pricier than their house. Why didn't he just ask the salesman to drive as they intended to be chauffeured anyway?
Because Hyacinth goaded him into it with her directions, Richard as usual taking the easy route of compliance.
House Wife: Hyacinth, Elizabeth, Daisy and Violet.
Humiliation Conga: Many of the episodes are basically set-ups for humiliation conga lines targeting Hyacinth.
Informed Attractiveness: An unusual number of men over the course of the series get the palm sweats over matronly, post-menopausal Hyacinth. It's usually Major Wilton Smythe, whose advances Hyacinth tolerates to some extent because he's very-well-connected-socially. Rule of Funny, really, and usually Lampshaded.
Same goes for Onslow. His wife Daisy is unaccountably fascinated with his body. Even Onslow is at a loss to comprehend it.
Insane Troll Logic: Hyacinth's social-climbing attempts and rationales can sometimes take on this edge. She once asked Richard to smile while doing the gardening so that if any people she was trying to impress happened to drop by they'd assume that they could afford a gardener but choose not to because Richard enjoyed it so much.
Irony: All of Hyacinth's upper-class "friends" much prefer her poorer relatives to her.
Irony As She Is Cast: Patricia Routledge has been in many musicals, and can sing. Hyacinth is terrible at singing.
She does veer into Jerk with a Heart of Gold terriotory, albeit very rarely. The 1991 Christmas Episode is a good example, in which she invites all her friends and family around for a party, regardless of their social status.
For all her oppressive treatment of Richard, she does at least mean well usually and treats him an affectionate demeanor despite her demands. Naturally, this usually only came to bite Richard in the back (for example, she turned down a high potential job opportunity because she didn't have the heart to leave him at home all alone, he is coherently sobbing). She also is shown to have a resented love for her slobbish relatives (particularly 'Daddy').
Just Eat Gilligan: For some reason, it's never an option to just refuse to do whatever Hyacinth says. When Hyacinth ignores a "No," the characters appear resigned to obey her.
It gets turned into a running gag when Emmet tries to coach Liz into refusing coffee. She's just. that. SCARY.
Richard tried to put his foot down a few times during the series. Bless his heart, he does try. Hyacinth simply walks over him.
Large Ham: Most of the women, especially Hyacinth.
MacGuffin: The infamous "Candlelight Suppers" are never shown in all their glory underway. In a few episodes we see Hyacinth preparing food and her dining room for them, but the actual event is never shown. Much of what drives Hyacinth's schemes and pestering up the social ladder revolve around inviting someone to one of these events.
Mood Whiplash: Hyacinth shops for a second car. A crime thriller ensues. Hyacinth tries to help her sister fix her marriage. A foot chase ensues. Her father is often disoriented, playful, and prone to fainting, and once takes the Bucket car for a drive in the country. An enormous car chase ensues. Hyacinth goads Richard into repairing some electrics and babysits dogs. The dogs run away when the church is turned into a virtual war zone and explodes.
No Accounting for Taste: Hyacinth could more-than-conceivably have married Richard for the slight class upgrade, but what he thought he was getting is a mystery.
No Name Given: The Vicar's wife, despite the fact she is a recurring character during the entire run of the show. Also, to a lesser extent, the Major.
Noodle Incident: Hyacinth's Candlelight Suppers are never shown. Presumably the reason why they're so terrible and nobody actually likes going to them is because of the presence of Hyacinth herself.
Running Gag: It's safe to say that at least 50 % of the entire show consists of running gags. They get Played With fairly often, too.
Every time Hyacinth approaches Onslow's front door, the dog living in the car on the driveway startles her, and she falls into the hedge behind. In one episode she creeps past the car, expecting the dog, and it startles her from a front window of the house.
People call Hyacinth's house to order Chinese food, thinking they called the Chinese Takeaway (they have the same number as Hyacinth's, but one digit removed).
Hyacinth is delighted when her son Sheridan calls her and he immediately asks for money. "Oh Sheridan, darling—how much?"
Hyacinth's seeming compulsion to constantly namedrop things, such as Sheridan's pearl button collection (which she thinks is wonderfully valuable), her Royal Doulton porcelain set with the handpainted periwinkles, her sister Violet, "the one with a Mercedes, a pool, and room for a pony", and perhaps most infamously, her "elegant candlelight suppers". Some items or connections appear only in single episodes—one such occasion was in Country Estate Sale, where Hyacinth ends up buying Dowager Lady Ursula's homemade gooseberry wine, drinking the stuff, and getting the litany more and more wrong each time she mentions it again.
Hyacinth insisting on singing, and the pained reactions of everyone else.
Hyacinth is chased by varying amorous men and later ponders they haven't "seen an attractive woman for quite a long time."
Emmet's suggestions for excuses when he wants Elizabeth to tell her he's not available.
Hyacinth's habit of telling Richard what to do while he's driving, and her opinions on what things are worth a "For goodness' sake Richard, watch out".
Daisy being in amorous mood, and Onslow being decidedly not.
Rose's manifold romantic adventures, especially with men who should not be chasing skirts to begin with.
Hyacinth turns every instance of her son or father doing something unsightly into virtues. Thusly, Daddy was riding a bike buck naked because he was practicing for the biannual Senior Bike Marathon when he encountered a poor homeless person and valiantly gave away all his clothes, and so on.
Every time Onslow and Daisy park their old, run down car, its exhaust pipe explodes with clouds of smoke.
Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Hyacinth has a strong tendency to call a spade something entirely more elegant: some memorable examples include "waterside supper with riparian entertainment" (which everyone else calls a "riverside pique-nique"), and "distributing gifts to the poor". It's sometimes made fun of (you know, even more than usually) when she needs to describe something but struggles to come up with expressions worth her standing.
Sexy Priest: The new Vicar. His wife knows this, and has to remind him (and put up a sign) to keep away from the ladies. Of course, she always finds Rose wrapped around him.
She's Got Legs: Emmett's description of Rose: "The one with the friendly legs."
Ship Tease: Richard and Elizabeth might have been much happier people if they'd married each other.
Single-Target Sexuality: Another interpretation of Daisy's attraction to Onslow: despite the odd flourish here and there, she never shows any indication that she even finds other men attractive let alone possessing the desire to leave her pretty neglectful husband.
Stepford Smiler: Hyacinth 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.
Stuff Blowing Up: A church blows up, and in another scene, the aftermath of a long-ago car repair session is treated as the aftermath of a recent silent explosion.
The Vicar: Michael the vicar, who is terrified of both Hyacinth and Rose.
"It's the Bucket woman!"
What Does She See in Him?: This is Hyacinth's attitude towards Daisy and Onslow. However, it's probably more applicable to her marriage to Richard, as an inversion.
In Richard's case, one gets the impression that they fell in love and married before she began her social climbing in earnest. It's also suggested (and the actor has said in interviews) that Richard is quite lazy, and appreciates having decisions made for him. Routledge herself once emphasized this by stating that Hyacinth never fails to cook, clean and iron for her husband.
Women Are Wiser: Inverted; Richard is a lot nicer, more practical and likable than Hyacinth. He also has the common sense thing going on, while Hyacinth... not so much. The trend continues with Daisy and Rose, who have common sense but are often Distracted by the Sexy, and Michael-the-vicar's wife, who's having trouble understanding why everyone dreads Hyacinth.
Your Cheating Heart: Rose always has relationships with married or otherwise committed men, to the point where Onslow and Daisy are surprised when one of her boyfriends turns out to be single.