What Keeping Up Appearances Teaches Us About Family

Because Keeping Up Appearances isn’t just a very funny sitcom – it’s a valuable guide to dealing with your nearest and dearest.

Keeping Up Appearances


Family life is all about compromise. Sometimes, no matter how annoyed you might be, no matter what utter nonsense your wife/husband/father-in-law is spouting, you should just sigh, shrug, and accept it to keep the peace. Richard from Keeping Up Appearances is an absolute master at this - just look at how he silently endures Hyacinth's never-ending nagging with only a roll of the eyes and a weary exhale. Even when she made him dress up as Santa Claus for a Crimbo event, he put up with it. (He did then get smashed on sherry just to cope, but we'll ignore that bit.)

Patricia Routledge as Hyacinth Bucket and Clive Swift as Richard Bucket.

Patricia Routledge as Hyacinth Bucket and Clive Swift as Richard Bucket.


It can be a chore, dealing with old family members, but it's got to be done. Even if they're as batty as Daddy, who has a habit of randomly going missing, re-enacting World War Two, bringing piles of dung to barbecues, or just deciding to go off to join the French Foreign Legion. Yet Hyacinth always makes time for him - even arranging a grand picnic so he "can drop as many crumbs as he likes". Hyacinth Bucket, tolerating wanton crumb droppage? Now that's love.


The one snag with a long-lasting marriage is the huge intense bonfire of passion can fade into a mere campfire of comfort. Don't let it! Be like Daisy, who works tirelessly to keep Onslow interested in the carnal side of things, whether that's by wistfully banging on about their early courtship or waving one of her Mills & Boon books in his face. Just don't do what Daisy did that time when she interrupted their love-making to ask "If I'd died in child birth, would you have married again?" That might prove a bit of a mood-killer.

Judy Cornwell as Daisy and Geoffrey Hughes as Onslow.

Judy Cornwell as Daisy and Geoffrey Hughes as Onslow.


Yes, you're fond of your kin. But remember: familiarity breeds contempt, so try to keep your distance sometimes. As Hyacinth once said, "Richard you know I love my family but that's no reason why I should have to acknowledge them in broad daylight."


If you live in a house with too many rellies around, it's important to have some alone-time to avoid being driven absolutely barmy. Cultivate a hobby, such as fishing, gardening or - as in Onslow's case - beer-drinking. In front of the telly. Despite being barraged on all sides by Daisy, Rose and Daddy, plus the occasional wince-inducing visit from Hyacinth, Onslow knows how to stay in his own bubble with only fizzy alcohol and horse-racing for company. Make sure you stock up on beverages, though, or you'll end up "sitting here completely surrounded by no beer". Terrible.


Do you know what most of us don't do often enough? Big our relatives up. It's true. We Brits are a humble, self-deprecating lot, but it shouldn't always be that way. Sometimes it's nice to let people know how highly you think of your nearest and dearest. Your friends will admire that quality in you, just like Hyacinth's friends appreciate being told that Violet is "the one with the Mercedes, swimming pool, and room for a pony". And remember, constantly repeating the exact same description will only make you and your family look all the grander in everyone's eyes.