"It's pronounced 'Bouquet'..."
The show revolves around Hyacinth Bucket (apparently pronounced 'Bouquet', as she's often heard correcting people), social climber extraordinaire. Snobby, shallow, and blissfully unaware of how annoying she is, Hyacinth is desperately worried that she isn't upper-class enough. Which, considering her family (Rose, Onslow, and Daisy), 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 as well her increasingly panicked desperation whenever she loses control or fears her husband might stop loving her (no matter how often he reassures her otherwise). Her husband, Richard, is long-suffering verging on sainthood.
Astonishingly, Patricia Routledge manages to present Hyacinth as a sympathetic and sometimes pitiable figure while still keeping her hilariously insufferable.
Hyacinth's sisters, Daisy and Rose, are both much lower class, with a junked car (and resident dog) permanently parked in their front garden. 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, prostitute-hiring 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.
As well as running gags, the series employs a more subtle sliding scale to wealth, social status, and marital happiness - the poorest and unmarried sister, Rose, seems to be the happiest and also has the most active sex life. Daisy and Onslow seem to have a happy enough marriage despite their lack of social standing. Hyacinth and Richard are middle-class, with a testy but caring relationship. And Violet and Bruce are the most wealthy, but have a terrible marriage. Similarly, the three husbands have a sliding scale of laziness, with Onslow the worst, then Richard, who blithely accepts his wife's decisions without protest, while Bruce works very hard, if only to buy nice dresses for himself.
Came twelfth in Britain's Best Sitcom.
This series provides examples of:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Hyacinth pulls off a couple sentences with them.Hyacinth: Beautiful day, Elizabeth!
Elizabeth: Yes, isn't it?
Hyacinth: Completely conducive to contemplating cozy, charismatic country cottages!
Hyacinth: Richard! What a thing to say to someone with her own solid silver self-cleaning sauce separator!
- The Alleged Car: Onslow's beat-up '78 Ford Cortina (the one that runs - barely). The one in their front garden is a few steps beyond "alleged".
- Ambiguously Gay: Hyacinth and Richard's son Sheridan, although the hints are so obvious this is almost certainly a case of Selective Obliviousness on Hyacinth's part.
- Amusement Park: In "The Senior Citizen's Outing" episode, 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.
- Ass Shove: Hyacinth gets one from Richard early in the second episode, courtesy of a gardening tool.
- Awful Wedded Life:
- Zigzagged. In Hyacinth's marriage to Richard; he puts up with a lot, used to her snobbish behaviour and expensive attempts to climb the social ladder. But they do seem to care for each other.
- However tiresome Richard may find Hyacinth, it's nothing to the painful marriage between Violet and Bruce, which is one step away from a messy divorce, with Bruce being a cross-dresser implied to be having an almost in-your-face affair.
- Backseat Driver: Hyacinth. A bad one at that.
- Big Honking Traffic Jam: Hyacinth and Richard are delayed on their way to the Q.E.2 by one of these, complete with the background sounding of horns.
- Brief Accent Imitation: When Hyacinth is at Daisy and Onslow's house (where she would not normally be seen dead), the high-class but unfriendly Mrs Nugent turns up, to return some minimal underwear which Rose had donated to the charity shop. Hyacinth imitates a very slurred, Germanic monotone when talking through the door to her:Hyacinth: Vot is it you vont? I am a foreigner in your country.
Mrs Nugent: (shouts about the inappropriate garments)
Hyacinth: Vy not please to push them through the letter box?
Mrs Nugent: You could push most of them through the keyhole!
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Onslow.
- Camp Straight: Emmet. Catty, terribly fey, organises the local musicals... very appreciative of Rose's 'friendly legs'.
- Candlelit Ritual: Hyacinth's "candlelight suppers" are frequently mentioned, mostly by Hyacinth herself, but they never happen on-screen.Hyacinth: I'd love you to attend one of my candlelight suppers, Mrs Fortescue.
Mrs Fortescue: Candlelight what?
Mrs Fortescue: Have they cut off your electricity?
Hyacinth: I think subdued lighting makes a statement, don't you, Mrs Fortescue?
Mrs Fortescue: I like to see what I'm eating. I'm partially deaf, but damned if I want to go blind.
- Onslow's reaction to any sort of setback or remark at his expense is a sarcastic "Oh, nice!"
- Rose's riposte to Onslow snarking at her expense (often focusing on her love life) is to snap, "Bog off, our Onslow!"
- Hyacinth warmly inviting Elizabeth to sit anywhere she likes. "EXCEPT THERE!"
- Pronounce Hyacinth's name as it appears to be written, and she'll correct you with "It's 'Bouquet', dear."
- Whenever the vicar or his wife see Hyacinth, their reaction is always a terrified "The Bucket woman!"
- Hyacinth invariably answers the phone by loudly announcing "The Bou-quet residence! The lady of the house speaking!"
- Whenever Hyacinth gets a call from Violet, she says to anyone within earshot (usually Elizabeth), "It's my sister Violet. She's the one with a Mercedes, swimming pool, sauna, and room for a pony." Or, if it's Daisy on the phone, "It's my sister Daisy. She's not the one with a Mercedes, swimming pool, sauna, and 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 member stations complete with breaks so that those stations airing the program could take time out to ask for viewer support.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Hyacinth just has no idea how hard a time she's giving everyone, or that people generally either fear her or laugh at her, and most of all, that all of her efforts to appear upper-class only underline her very common standing.
- Coitus Ensues: Once, between Daisy and Onslow, in a wrong place. Also Rose and Mister Finchley, who's helping Rose find her father while driving a van with loudspeakers.
- Comedy Series
- Compromising Memoirs: Rose plans to write hers in one episode. She begins by asking Daisy and Onslow how to spell "memoirs."
- Crazy-Prepared: Hyacinth goes so far as to set up a "NO PARKING - DELIVERY IMMINENT" sign in front of her house in anticipation of the delivery of a three-piece suite.
- Deadpan Snarker: Onslow and Richard.
- Give Hyacinth credit, she never fails from lack of effort.
- Give Richard credit too, for living with Hyacinth. Although you can't be sure if he's still with her out of determination or severe lack of such...
- Didn't Think This Through: Hyacinth has the perfect answer to Elizabeth spilling drinks: a cup with a lid.Emmet: And how were you intending to drink from it?
Elizabeth: Well, I take the lid off...
Emmet & Elizabeth: (in unison) and I'm back where I started.
Hyacinth: Worry not! I have the solution. I saw this while shopping, and I shall keep it especially for you. (Holds up a pink sippy cup)
- Dirty Old Man: Hyacinth's father.
- The Ditherer: Hyacinth is normally extremely decisive. However, she has moments of being unable to make up her mind, while the long-suffering Richard panders to her ever-changing whim, especially in this scene when his husbandly duty includes opening the car door for Hyacinth, just before they offer a lift to an elderly lady whom Hyacinth is keen to impress.(Richard opens car door)Hyacinth: Perhaps I should stay in the car.(Richard begins to close the door)Hyacinth: No, no, perhaps I should meet her at the door.(Richard opens the door, Hyacinth gets out)Hyacinth: Then again, I don't want to look too eager: perhaps I should stay in the car.(Hyacinth gets in)Hyacinth: (sharply, just as Richard closes the door) No, no!! (Richard opens the door) I think the best thing would be for you to ring the bell, and when she opens it, she'll find me admiring her garden. A subtle compliment, without going too far.
- The Ditz: Emmet and Elizabeth on occasion. In one episode, Emmet checks the temperature of a heating iron by touching it.
- Double Take: Elizabeth does a brief one in "Onslow's Birthday" when Hyacinth pronounces Ibiza with a voiceless alveolar sibilant (/s/) instead of a voiceless dental fricative (/θ/).
- Dreadful Musician: Hyacinth couldn't carry a tune in a bucket (er, bouquet). Not that she knows this, as Emmet repeatedly finds out to his cost when she tries to force herself into his musical productions.
- Drop-In Character: Elizabeth, against her will.
- Extreme Doormat: Some say Richard is a saint. Others say he just lets himself be pushed around by his domineering wife, putting up only mild protests even when she is wasting money, since it's easier than taking any responsibility himself.
- Fat Bastard: Onslow a good deal of the time, though he often subverts this trope.
- Fee Fi Faux Pas: Elizabeth is practicing her excuse to Hyacinth that she can't come to coffee because she has to visit her solicitor (lawyer). But when she answers Hyacinth's call, she instead says "I can't today, Hyacinth, I'm soliciting!". Cue Oh, Crap! face.
- Femme Fatale: Rose
- Floral Theme Naming: The four sisters are called Hyacinth, Daisy, Rose and Violet.
- The Ghost:
- Hyacinth and Richard's son Sheridan is mentioned in almost every episode, and phones regularly to ask for money, yet is never actually seen.
- Elizabeth's husband, who is working in Saudi Arabia, which has led some in the KUA fandom to question whether or not Elizabeth even has a husband. She also has a daughter, Gail, who is away at university and lives with a fellow student named Harold; the fact that they are living together but not married attracts Hyacinth's disdain. Elizabeth herself, for her part, doesn't care either way.
- Hyacinth's other sister Violet, who is married to "turf accountant" Bruce, started out as a ghost but became an occasional on-screen character for the final season.
- 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, sauna, 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.
- Got Volunteered:
- Hyacinth frequently volunteers Richard to perform disagreeable tasks, such as repairing the church hall electrics.
- Having willingly volunteered for church cleaning, the Hyacinth accidentally volunteers to clean the church hall toilet, desperate to be picked for something after being rejected for pew polishing, changing flowers, brassware, changing the altar cloth.Vicar's wife: This needs quite a bit of work on it. Can I have a volunteer to clean the church hall (Hyacinth puts her hand up) toilet... Mrs Bucket, thank you.
- Grande Dame: What Hyacinth aspires to be.
- Helping Granny Cross the Street: Played with when Hyacinth and Richard give a lift to the elderly and stick-bearing Mrs Fortescue. Hyacinth encourages Richard to take her by the elbow, and escort her to the car. However, the perfectly agile Mrs Fortescue (who tends to wave her stick around) is not impressed.Mrs Fortescue: I don't need you to carry me!Richard: You wanted a lift into town, Mrs Fortescue.Mrs Fortescue: Lift? In the car.
- Henpecked Husband: Poor Richard.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen:
- Hyacinth's son, Sheridan, although he does eventually put in a brief and wordless appearance dressed in full motorcycle kit including face-concealing helmet. That could also count as The Faceless and The Ghost.
- Elizabeth's husband, who is said to be working in Saudi Arabia, and her daughter, Gail (whom Hyacinth looks down on for living with a man despite not being married to him).
- 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 or minimal dialogue 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, even opening the door to her side of the car herself rather than wait for Richard to open it for her as she always does... for a little while. A bystander, who had been on the receiving end of her usual behaviour, suggested Richard deserved a medal.
- Hidden Depths: Look very carefully at the covers of the books Onslow is seen reading in bed in some of the later episodes. They are mostly graduate physics textbooks, implying he is more intelligent than he lets on (not that this makes him interested in pursuing steady employment).
- Hilarity Ensues: Hyacinth tricks Richard into stealing a car after conning a Rolls-Royce dealer into letting them go for a test drive (Richard is clearly nervous about driving a car that costs more than their house, but complies with Hyacinth's directions as usual), 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.
- Holiday Volunteering: The Christmas Special sees Richard forced to dress up as Father Christmas as he hands out gifts to the old people at the Church Hall. Only he gets drunk on sherry with Emmet and Elizabeth has to take over.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Hyacinth. Patricia Routledge is actually a talented singer, but Hyacinth's loud, shrieking performances make every character within earshot wish they were many miles away.
- House Wife: Hyacinth, Elizabeth, Daisy, and Violet.
- Humiliation Conga: Many of the episodes are basically set-ups for humiliation conga lines targeting Hyacinth.
- Hypocritical Humor: Whenever Hyacinth claims that she's not the sort of person who puts on airs or who boasts about her social connections or who orders people around. In fact, she has stated that she hates snobbery in several occasions.Hyacinth: (loudly to the postman, seeing a neighbour) You will remember the name of the ship we're cruising on?
Postman: (equally loudly) The QE2!
Hyacinth: Not so loud! People might think I'm trying to broadcast it.
- "I Can't Look!" Gesture: Hyacinth when she hears how Daisy and Onslow came to be on the QE2.Richard: They're here offically.
Hyacinth: What do you mean, officially?
Richard: Your brother-in-law has won first prize: two tickets for this cruise, with all the trimmings. You should see their cabin...
Hyacinth: I don't want to know.
Richard: Champagne, flowers...
Hyacinth: (covering her ears) ALL RIGHT! ALL RIGHT! ALL RIGHT!!
- 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.
- Hyacinth applies endless troll logic to her planned new kitchen work surface. "I had to consult the vicar about the colour: I needed his confirmation that this is Angel Gabriel blue." When she goes to the shop to order it, she is at first dismayed that the colour has been discontinued, but when the shop keeper says they might be able to get it, she is delighted because "it won't be seen in many homes". While the shop keeper's back is turned, she then starts pouring various messy cooking materials over a nearby work surface, to see how well they cope with spillages. When the horrified shop keeper returns, she says "I may have to leave the fairy cake mixture until it sets, and then come back."
- Irony: All of Hyacinth's upper-class "friends" much prefer her poorer relatives to her.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY":
- It's not 'Bucket', it's 'Bouquet', as Hyacinth will insistently claim. However, Richard claims "It was always Bucket until I met you," and Hyacinth herself, upset at the time, once pronounces it "Bucket" before quickly correcting herself, suggesting this is a bit of Selective Obliviousness on Hyacinth's part.
- In an episode where Hyacinth is telling everybody she is going on holiday (when she isn't), she says "brochures" frequently, pronouncing the O as in "odd". In the same episode, she accidentally answers the phone with "The Brochure residence..."
- Jerkass: Hyacinth. She does veer into Jerk with a Heart of Gold territory, 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. And 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, leaving him coherently sobbing. She also is shown to have a resented love for her slobbish relatives.
- 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, literally in one case, as she uses him as a gangplank to board a boat.
- Large Ham: Most of the women, especially Hyacinth.
- Lazy Bum: Onslow and Daisy.
- Limited Wardrobe: Onslow, who (except for the odd occasion when Hyacinth or Daisy force him into a suit) apparently only has one outfit.
- Lots of Luggage: Hyacinth takes mountains of "matching executive luggage, with the genuine leather embellishments and initials" on board the cruise liner, the Q E 2.
- 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.
- Midnight Snack: When Richard has insomnia in their tiny ("old-world-bijou") attic apartment.Richard: Well, I'm going to make some old-world-bijou tea.
Hyacinth: Oh why not, dear? An impromptu midnight snack! That's the beauty of living in a place like this, one can break with one's routine. (sits up and bangs head on low ceiling)
- Missing Mom: Daddy is a widower - and that's all the info we get. Though he is pretty old, so natural causes are a good bet.
- Mistaken for Cheating: This is how Emmet is introduced. Hyacinth sees a strange man wearing just towel come out of Elizabeth's house to get something off the porch. After Hyacinth spends several minutes fretting over what this will mean for the neighborhood and her reputation and dragging Richard into it, they find out the man is Elizabeth's brother.
- Mock Millionaire: Hyacinth wants to give the impression that she and Richard are much wealthier - and therefore much more cultured and upper-crust - than they appear. She coaxes Richard to steal a Rolls-Royce, drive it to a hotel, and make an appearance at its coffee shop just so she can show off to Lydia Hawksworth, who made a disparaging remark at one of her candlelight suppers. This backfires spectacularly when the police catch up to her and arrest them just as Lydia drives up.
- Monochrome Casting: A VERY extreme example.
- 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 electric circuits and babysits dogs. The dogs run away when the church is turned into a virtual war zone and explodes.
- Neat Freak: Needless to say, The Bucket residence is always immaculate, and the Lady of the House presumably does the housekeeping herself (Richard doing "manly" tasks such as gardening, under his wife's gaze "My Goodness! Is that a dead leaf?", and polishing the car). When drinks are spilled by Elizabeth, Hyacinth is far more concerned for her new suite than anybody's comfort. Occasionally, Hyacinth tries to put other people's houses in order: she polishes the postman's badge, and in a cafe, she starts polishing the cutlery.Waitress: Two coffees. Are you having a meal?
Hyacinth: I don't think so.
Waitress: Need a fork for your coffee, do you?
- Newhart Phone Call: Whenever Hyacinth talks to Violet, Sheridan, or a person trying to call the Chinese Takeaway, we only get her side of the conversation, though Hyacinth does repeat snippets of what they say.Hyacinth: (on the phone to Violet) That sounded like he wants you to dress up as Robin Hood and Maid Marian!... Oh, he does want you both to dress up as Robin Hood and Main Marian... What do you mean, I haven't heard the worst part?... (groans) He wants to be Maid Marian.
- Nice Hat: Hyacinth usually wears a grand hat when out and about. When she orders Richard to choose a hat for her, he is indecisive, and she accuses him of "being unfaithful to her hats". In an episode where her car passes Elizabeth's car going in the opposite direction:Elizabeth: I didn't like Hyacinth's hat.
Hyacinth: I didn't like Elizabeth's hat.
- 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. Richard himself once lampshaded the fact by saying something to the effect of "you never know who you'll end up falling in love with." Of course, that comment went completely right over Hyacinth's head.
- 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.
- Interestingly, his name actually appears in every single episode, as the RSVP card Hyacinth prepares in the title sequence is made out to "Major & Mrs. Wilton Smythe".
- 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.
- Not Me This Time: In "The Commodore", when Hyacinth has Elizabeth and Emmett over for tea, she hears the usual sound of china falling and breaking. She is in the middle of saying "Eliza..." when she stops and realizes it was Emmett who dropped the china this time. Elizabeth can't help but laugh at it happening to her brother for once.
- Not This One, That One: Hyacinth and Richard are borrowing a yacht, and she is delighted with the beautiful yacht she thinks it is. Then it turns out to be the floating nutshell next to it. Her solution? Let's move it a bit further, it will look better on its own. It would have helped if either she or Richard had actually known how to steer the thing.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: How Hyacinth sees Onslow. While he is a Lazy Bum and a Fat Slob, he's actually quite likeable and most people seem to prefer him to Hyacinth.
- Oh, Crap!:
- "It's that Bucket woman!" This is said by many people, especially the vicar, and Elizabeth and Emmet, sometimes when they have headed somewhere to get away from Hyacinth... and there she is.
- In an episode where Richard has forgotten their wedding anniversary, Richard's terror is palpable when he sees her on the phone complaining to the Post Office about Richard's surprise present to her not being delivered. In the same episode, she graciously allows him out for a drink with Emmet, when Richard managed to save the day by ordering a home security system just in time. The code to disarm is it the day, month, and last two digits of the year of their wedding. At the end of the episode:(Richard comes home, alarm starts bleeping, Richard starts entering the code)
Richard: A 9, a 2, and... oh my God, what was the year?... Which year did we get married?... (desperate) I've only got seconds to think... she will kill me!!... It was 62. (types it in, beeping stops) Oh, that was close... (alarm sounds, Hyacinth erupts from bedroom)
- One Steve Limit: Averted.
- There are two minor characters named Michael: The Vicar and the postman.
- There are also two Hawksworths: Emmett and one-off character Lydia.
- Only One Name: Daisy, Onslow, Rose, and Michael the Vicar.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: When Hyacinth starts to get riled up, her affected upper-crust accent will tend to slip and her natural working class accent will start to slip through.note
- Parental Obliviousness: Hyacinth in regards to Sheridan's sexuality. Some of Richard's reactions indicate that he does know (or at least think) Sheridan is gay.
- Percussive Maintenance: Onslow and Daisy turn their TV on and off by giving it a whack on the top. More impressively, Daisy once changed the channel this way.
- Prequel: A 2016 one-off special, Young Hyacinth, takes place in the 1950s. The special gives a justification for Hyacinth's attempts at social climbing: the family grew up in near-poverty as Daddy spent most of his wages on alcohol. When she lands a job as a maid for one of the local gentry, she starts harboring ambitions of rising above her station and attempts to pass off Daddy's alcoholism as an old war wound affecting him. Daisy frequently pokes holes in Hyacinth's fantasies and is forced to take over Daddy's original job as a canal bridge operator while he's off getting stinking drunk when he's supposed to be selling brushes.
- Punctuality Is for Peasants:
- Due to her own terrible map-reading (which she blames on Richard), Hyacinth is late for her cruise on the QE2, and is tearfully appalled that the ship does not wait for her, or turn back.
- When she is the hostess, she expects complete punctuality from her guests: if she invites them for coffee at ten forty-five, she expects them to appear just then, and not at ten forty-four or ten forty-six.
- Rape as Comedy:
- Hyacinth being not infrequently pawed and chased around by overly amorous men. Somehow manages to be funny because Hyacinth most certainly qualifies as an Asshole Victim.
- Hyacinth's father also occasionally pushes his skirt-chasing into this territory.
- Really Gets Around: Rose.Rose: (during one of her many "I'll change my ways" rants]) I'll get a skirt that goes all the way down to the floor!
Onslow: Bet that skirt's gone to the floor a few times.
- Reluctant Retiree: Richard Bucket, mostly because he'll then have to spend more time with his wife. One of the jokes in the pilot is people congratulating Richard on his upcoming retirement... only to then immediately switch to condolences as they realize what this'll mean for himnote .
- Repeated Rehearsal Failure:
- Hyacinth drills Richard in performing for people she wishes to impress, who rarely performs to her satisfaction.Hyacinth: Show me how you intend to greet Mrs Fortescue.
Richard: (uncertainly) Good morning, Mrs Fortescue.
Hyacinth: No, no! It's too tentative. You must make her see you are powerful in local authority circles. Now try again.
Richard: Well, couldn't I say "Good Morning Mrs Fortescue", and wear a large label saying "powerful in local authority circles"?
Hyacinth: I don't find that very amusing, dear. I hope you're not going to spoil things with lower-middle-class humour.
- In the same episode, she makes Richard practise ringing the doorbell.Hyacinth: Oh no, Richard, that was almost a tradesman's ring. Keep the index finger straight.
- Hyacinth also drills a policeman (making him remove his shoes, as with most visitors) who has visited to tell her that her daddy is at the police station.Hyacinth: When you leave this bungalow, I want you to be wearing a broad smile. I don't want anyone thinking that my daddy is in trouble.
- In the same episode, when Richard has the job of collecting daddy, she makes him wear dark glasses, and tells him that if anyone asks, he is on business.Hyacinth: Pssssst! You don't look like you're on business! You look like someone going to fetch daddy from the police station.
- Elizabeth simply cannot say "no" to Hyacinth's daily invitation for coffee. Sometimes she rehearses doing this, on one occasion saying she has an appointment with her solicitor. When Hyacinth does call her, she bursts out with "I am soliciting".
- Hyacinth drills Richard in performing for people she wishes to impress, who rarely performs to her satisfaction.
- Repeating So the Audience Can Hear: Hyacinth's phone conversations.
- Rich Language, Poor Language: Hyacinth works hard at her RP to cover her naturally Midlands accent, which nevertheless can slip through when she's flustered.
- Right Under Their Noses: Poor Richard, who cannot help at all when Hyacinth wants to know if he would notice some holiday brochures left casually lying around.Richard: Hyacinth, it's no good asking me. I didn't even notice when your father was on fire.
- 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 Green Lotus Chinese Takeaway (they have the same number as Hyacinth's, but one digit removed). Naturally, this irritates Hyacinth, and, at one point, she has Richard call the Chinese embassy to force the Green Lotus to change their number, to no avail.
- Hyacinth is delighted when her son Sheridan calls her and he immediately asks for money. "Oh Sheridan, darling—(blinks incredulously) 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, swimming pool, sauna, 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."
- Hyacinth makes most visitors to her house leave their shoes outside, especially tradesmen. In one episode, she makes the vicar do so, and Richard as well.Vicar: (seeing Richard taking his shoes off) You too, Richard?
Richard: Oh yes. I once left a mark on the wood block, in 1968.
- Emmet's suggestions for excuses when he wants Elizabeth to tell her he's not available.
- The very manual control of Onslow and Daisy's TV.
- Elizabeth breaking Hyacinth's china, later mugs, and the ways she tries to avoid this.
- Hyacinth's senile Daddy runs away to cause chaos at the worst of moments.
- Hyacinth constantly micromanaging Richard's driving, usually with "keep your eyes on the road, dear", just after she has told him to watch something else.
- Also, Daddy's discreetly off-screen (mostly) adventures.
- 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 bi-annual 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.
- Hyacinth will often have a flash of inspiration in the middle of the night, which she will excitedly wake Richard with. This is often preceded with enough Hollywood Darkness for the viewer to see the time on her alarm clock.
- Although Hyacinth has great pride in her "white Slimline telephone with recall facility", and is sometimes seen polishing it, occasionally the characters use a phone booth; which is always a traditional red British telephone box.
Richard: Excuse me, but are you married by any chance? Well, have you ever forgotten your wedding anniversary? Then you'll understand my urgency.
- When Richard has forgotten their wedding anniversary, he sneaks to a phone box to order a present for Hyacinth.
Hyacinth: Why are you calling from a payphone? Oh, Onslow's been cut off again; surprise, surprise.
- Daisy (accompanied by Onslow and Rose) calls Hyacinth from a phone box.
Hyacinth: That's my call you're making!
- Hyacinth loses her temper when somebody else gets into a phone box just ahead of her. Richard famously stands up to her in this scene.
Caller: I don't think you need a telephone, with your voice.
Richard: GET BACK IN THE CAR!
- Elizabeth and Emmet travel somewhere, saying it is such a relief to get out of the house, away from Hyacinth; only to find the woman herself at their destination. On one occasion, this realisation dawns when they hear Hyacinth's voice from afar, and they whisper in unison "Hyacinth!".
- Selective Obliviousness: The source of much of the show's comedy. There are occasional hints that Hyacinth knows full well what other people think of her, or that her last name really is pronounced "Bucket", or that her son is gay, or that her father is nothing but a senile old lecher (who was also a perpetually drunken wastrel in his younger days) but just refuses to accept them due to her Pride. Hyacinth is a very British character in that respect. Arthur Lowe's iconic portrayal of Captain Mainwaring has a lot of that sort of self-conscious self-importance about him, but was actually quite brave when it came to it. David Jason's portrayal of Del-boy Trotter was mostly of a failure with ideas above his station, but with a strong sense of responsibility - he had mostly brought up Rodney due to their father's failures, and it never occurred to him to desert Raquel when she fell unexpectedly pregnant.
- Serial Homewrecker: A number of Rose's boyfriends are married, and at one point in the show she laments that "they always go back to their wives in the end".
- 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 she had to actually look up in the dictionary to find the fanciest words for, and everyone else calls a "riverside pique-nique"), and "distributing gifts to the poor". It's sometimes made fun of (you know, even more than usual) when she needs to describe something but struggles to come up with expressions worth her standing.Hyacinth: (desperately to Richard) You won't leave me here alone, with my matching executive luggage with the genuine leather embellishments and initials??
Richard: I wouldn't dare.
- 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.Rose: You didn't tell me he was young!
- She's Got Legs: Emmett's description of Rose: "The one with the friendly legs." Also:Onslow: We've left your father in good hands.
Daisy: Do you think our Hyacinth will think our Rose qualifies as "good hands"?
Onslow: All right, we've left your father in good legs.
- Ship Tease:
- Richard and Elizabeth might have been much happier people if they'd married each other. The Christmas episode has Richard and Elizabeth kissing under the mistletoe and Richard gets reprimanded by Hyacinth for trying to go back in for seconds.
- Richard was very happy to help Rose out of the car when she was wearing a short skirt and she was happy when she had to be pressed into the back seat against Richard, who didn't mind it, either.
- There's some between Hyacinth and Onslow: When Onslow kisses Hyacinth, mistaking her for Elizabeth, Hyacinth's mood improves considerably. Then, on the QE2, Hyacinth leaves Richard sitting to go dance with Onslow.
- A Simple Plan: Hyacinth's attempts at raising her social status.
- 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.
- Skirts and Ladders: Invoked by Daisy in a Christmas Episode when she refuses to climb up a ladder to see a lifeboat on these grounds. However, this is averted in another episode, where Rose climbs a ladder wearing a very short skirt.Hyacinth: Rose, I forbid you to go up that ladder wearing that skirt.
Rose: (cheekily) Do you want me to take it off, then?
Hyacinth: No, of course not! (to herself) Though I doubt if anybody would notice the difference.
- Slobs vs. Snobs: Ambitious, uppity social climber Hyacinth on one side; slovenly, perennially unemployed Onslow and Daisy and voracious mantrap Rose on the other. The fact that Hyacinth, Daisy, and Rose's senile father lives with Daisy, Onslow, and Rose and yet Hyacinth remains devoted to him means their paths cross on a regular basis, and the three slobs are generally the ones who get the last laugh in such meetings.
- 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 have 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".
- Also in the Cruise Special, she telephones the ship when she is left behind. An officer suggests that she tries to "catch them up". Hyacinth replies "Important as I am in local circles, I have not risen to the level where I can walk on water".
- Social Climber: Hyancinth fits this trope to a T. She probably will not stop until she becomes queen, noting how fitting it is for her to act out a role as one in a play.
- Spelling for Emphasis: As well as frequently spelling out her surname "My name is Bouquet, B-U-C-K-E-T", Hyacinth once says to Richard "T-O-W-N, dear, town. It's that large thing with all the shops."
- Status Quo Is God: Rose continually says she'll stop pursuing married men, but it never lasts more than an episode.Rose (excitedly): I've come to a decision! I've decided to give up men.
Onslow: Yep, third time this week.
Daisy: And it's only Wednesday.
- 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.
- Just about everyone, but especially Emmet is this when Hyacinth is around.
- Strictly Formula: Every episode is basically a series of Running Gags with a few details tweaked. A standard for all Roy Clarke works.
- Hyacinth will have a new scheme to help her climb the social ladder. Richard, Elizabeth and Emmet (and sometimes The Vicar) will be roped in to assist her.
- A neighbour/postman/milkman will approach the house and unsuccessfully try to avoid Hyacinth.
- Elizabeth will be invited to coffee (during which she will smash a cup).
- Hyacinth and Richard will go for a drive somewhere.
- Hyacinth will get a phone call. It will be from her son, one of her siblings or a Chinese restaurant.
- When Hyacinth mentions her (mostly unseen) sister Violet, she will mention the "sauna, swimming pool, room for a pony". At one point Elizabeth mouths this as Hyacinth says it; at another, Hyacinth says instead "sauna, swimming pool, and a musical bidet... classical, of course."
- There'll be a couple of scenes involving her Obnoxious In-Laws, who will later show up to embarrass Hyacinth.
- Rose will be infatuated with her latest boyfriend.
- Daddy will be up to his usual bizarre antics.
- The episode will finish with Hyacinth's plan Gone Horribly Wrong and she'll probably end up falling in a river, getting covered in mud or being chased by something (or someone).
- 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.
- Talking with Signs: In an episode where Bruce and Violet are arguing loudly in their house, Hyacinth distracts the crowd outside by holding up signs telling them which songs to sing, to drown out the noise.
- Theme Naming: Hyacinth and her sisters are all named for flowers. Is that why she insists on pronouncing it "Bouquet"?
- The Three Certainties in Life: One gag compared being invited to one of Hyacinth Buck... err... Bouquet's candlelight suppers to the inevitability of death and taxes.
- There Will Be Toilet Paper: When Richard is shaving, several times Hyacinth grabs his arm when announcing her latest wild idea, causing him to cut himself.Richard: One of these days, you're going to find me lying in a pool of blood.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Onslow and Daisy love Bacon Butties. Onslow is also partial to Beer and Crisps (potato chips).Daisy: I remember when I used to interest you far more than crisps...
Onslow: Weren't as many flavors back then!
- Truth in Television: During the time period when the show was originally filmed, it was not uncommon for women Hyacinth's age to turn as fretful as she does as they aged, so it's quite probable that she was far less insecure and desperate when Richard first married her. As the possibilities for older women continue to expand, this may become an Aluminum Christmas Trees fact.
- Unnamed Parent: Hyacinth, Daisy, Rose, and Violet's father, who is only referred to as "Daddy" throughout the series and never given a name.
- The Unpronounceable:
- Rose's Polish fiancé, whom Rose, Daisy, and Onslow settle to call "Mr. Whatsit."
- And Mrs. Thing.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Hyacinth. Big time. Although her relatives are by all accounts lazy slobs, they look like saints in comparison.
- The Vicar: Michael the vicar, who is terrified of both Hyacinth (for being loud and blustery) and Rose (for having a huge sexual appetite)."It's the Bucket woman!"
- Tied Up on the Phone: Hyacinth sometimes gets tangled in the cable of her prized white Slimline telephone with recall facility, complete with absurdly long cord.
- Video Inside, Film Outside: Averted; inside and outside, almost the entirety of the series was shot on video, with only occasional bursts of film.
- Westminster Chimes: The Buckets' doorbell plays the first notes of this tune. Upon hearing the doorbell, visitors inevitably roll their eyes as though they're thinking, "Good God, even Hyacinth's doorbell is pretentious!"
- 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, (but nothing like as bad as Onslow) 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.
- White Glove Test: A test Hyacinth Bucket often does (yielding a very low success rate).
- 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 (at first).
It's pronounced 'Tropé'.