Keeping Up Appearances' Clive Swift
Tea Time Tidbit for the week of October 31, 2016
As Richard Bucket
One of the most valuable resources for actors in London is a place in Covent Garden called The Actors Centre. It’s where theatre folk go to network, share, create, and learn.
The organization has been around a fairly long time, since 1978 to be exact, and although it was founded by a number of people, including John Alderton (Upstairs Downstairs) and actress Sheila Hancock (the wife of John Thaw), the man who initiated the idea is someone we see daily on Afternoon Tea; Clive Swift, better known as "Richard" in Keeping Up Appearances. In fact, it’s widely acknowledged that “without Clive Swift, there would be no Actors Centre”. For Swift, who has over a half century of acting credits, it is his work on behalf of The Actors Centre that has made him the most proud.
Swift came up with the idea for the center when he was in his 30s and realized that actors who were between jobs needed a communal meeting place to stave off depression and forestall their tendency to drink. HE worked tirelessly for over 20 years to seek funding and support for the center and although he is no longer physically involved in its activities, he continues to take an interest in the organization in an advisory capacity.
Advertisement for the Edinburgh Festival show in 2007
Since Keeping Up Appearances came to an end in 1995, Swift, who’ll turn 81 next February, has kept himself busy, appearing on stage, television and the big screen. He’s also toured in a one-man song and music show, Richard Bucket Overflows, which he performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2007.
Despite having been a key member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for eight years in the 1960s, Swift says that being Hyacinth’s husband is still what he’s most known for and even though the show concluded years ago, when people see him in the street, they still shout out "Hello, Richard".
In the 2015 television series, Suntrap
“They expect me to be as nice and placid as Richard and I’m really not like that!”, Swift says. In fact, he almost didn’t accept the role of Richard, until he found out that the writer was Roy Clarke, who had also written the highly successful Last of the Summer Wine. Swift is also dissimilar to Richard in that he is NOT married. He and his first and only wife, the novelist Margaret Drabble, who he met while they were both studying at Cambridge, divorced in 1975 after fifteen years of marriage. They remain good friends and although Drabble remarried in 1982, still see a lot of each other. Of their three children, only one has gone into television. Their youngest son, Joe, is a presenter on the long-time popular BBC gardening show called Gardener’s World. Eldest son, Adam, is an academic living in Oxford and their daughter, Becky, is a literary consultant. Also, unlike Richard, Swift has grandchildren, of which he says he is “very proud”.
You can see Swift as Richard Bucket, in Keeping Up Appearances, weekday afternoons at 2:30pm on MPT.
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