KUA's Clive Swift: 1936-2019
Tea Time Tidbit for the week of February 11, 2019
This week we bring you the sad news that Clive Swift, who played Hyacinth Bucket’s hen-pecked husband Richard in Keeping Up Appearances, died after what was reported to be a short illness, at his home on February 1st.
Patricia Routledge and Clive Swift
According to his agent, Swift died “peacefully at home” surrounded by his family. He was just a week short of his 83rd birthday. He leaves behind two sons, Adam and Joe. Swift’s daughter, Rebecca, sadly died of cancer in 2017. Their mother, the novelist Margaret Drabble, was married to Swift from 1960 to 1975.
Although Keeping Up Appearances only ran for five years in the U.K., it has been a staple on Afternoon Tea for far longer. So long, in fact, that Swift and Dame Patricia Routledge, who played his wife Hyacinth in the series, seem like family to many of us. It’s hard to believe, therefore, that Swift almost turned the role of Richard down.
According to an interview Swift did with The Express, it was only when Swift realized that the writer would be Roy Clark who had written another Afternoon Tea favorite, Last of the Summer Wine, that he relented. At the time, Swift had been acting for over 30 years.
Clive Swift and Patricia Routledge
Swift’s first television role was in 1961, and in the 1960s he was also a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, for whom he took on many great roles, appearing alongside such theatre legends as Vanessa Redgrave, Peggy Ashcroft and Peter O’Toole. His portrayal of Caliban, opposite Timothy West’s Prospero, in the 1966 production of The Tempest, was critically acclaimed. Sometimes Swift managed to combine his talents as a classically trained Shakespearian actor and a television actor, such as when he played the Friar in a 1976 televised production of Romeo & Juliet.
Swift also appeared in a few films, including the 1981 film Excalibur, where he played King Arthur’s adoptive father Sir Ector. The director of that film had actually given Swift his first film experience about 20 years earlier when he cast him in a film called Having a Wild Weekend, featuring the Dave Clark Five.
All in all, Swift’s career spanned six decades, with his last television role being in 2017 in an episode of Midsomer Murders ("Crime & Punishment"). But it is as Richard Bucket that Swift will always be best remembered. On hearing of her co-star’s death Dame Patricia Routledge said she was "deeply saddened."
"Clive was a skillful and inventive actor with wide experience, as his successful career proved," she said. "I so much admire what he brought to the barely sketched role of Hyacinth's husband and treasure the memories of our happy collaboration."
Keeping Up Appearances airs on Afternoon Tea Mondays through Fridays at 2:30pm.
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