Patricia Routledge's love of poetry

Tea Time Tidbit for the week of July 29, 2019

Tea Time Tidbit

Keeping Up Appearances' Patricia Routledge

Dame Patricia Routledge has always had a life-long love of poetry and at 90 years of age she continues to share her love through performances such as one she gave recently.

Routledge’s reading of John Keats’ immortal "Odes", at the Festival of Chichester, was in honor of the bicentenary of the composition of the six poems. One of the poems, "Ode to Autumn", the actress first learned as a child at school and she bemoans the fact that poetry “isn’t learned by heart any more,” considering poetry to be “a great comfort for later on in life.”

It was Routledge’s love of poetry and the English language that initially made her think she would become an English instructor. In fact, as Routledge puts it, she “had no intention of going on the wicked stage!” While attending the University of Liverpool, however, Routledge became involved with the University’s dramatic society and was encouraged to embark on an acting career. So after graduating with a degree in English Language and Literature, she trained at the Bristol Old Vic and subsequently auditioned for and was hired by the Liverpool Playhouse.

Eventually Routledge’s stage career took her to the West End and in 1966 to Broadway, where her performance left a critic for the New York Times declaring that Routledge “should be captured” and not allowed “to go back to west end.”

Several decades later it was Routledge who would capture the hearts of American television viewers, with her performance of Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances. From the minute she read the first script, Routledge said Hyacinth “lept from the page.” She understood her and recognized in her ladies she knew from when she was young. As did many of the people who have written to Routledge over the years from all over the world.

After five years Routledge decided that it was time to end Keeping Up Appearances. As she said in an interview, “Better to go out when people might be saying aren’t you going to do any more than saying is that still on.” She remains grateful to Hyacinth, as are we for the many years of laughter the character has provided.

Keeping Up Appearances will return to Afternoon Tea at 2:30pm on Tuesday, August 6th.

To contact Heather:
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117

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