Much has been written recently (including here) about the numerous re-boots that the BBC is planning as part of their Landmark Sitcom Season which is designed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of comedy on the channel since the original broadcast of Hancock’s Half Hour in 1956. While it is a bit hard to get excited about or even envision a re-make of Are You Being Served? that simply places Grace Brothers Department Store employees in the late 1980s with new actors, one that has caught most everyone’s attention centers around the creation of Roy Clarke’s mind palace, Hyacinth Bucket.
After 20 years, Clarke will be returning to the ‘world of Hyacinth’ for a one-off special to air later this year tentatively titled, Young Hyacinth. While the mere thought of imagining a non-Patricia Routledge Keeping Up Appearances redo is hard enough to imagine, the idea of seeing a youthful Hyacinth as sort of a social-climbing snob in training is no less difficult to imagine but it is intriguing, innovative and could be quite fun. One has to ask the question, “…is the world ready for a young Hyacinth?”
The BBC has confirmed that Kerry Howard (Reggie Perrin, Him & Her, Witless) has been cast as a young Hyacinth Bucket. A self-proclaimed huge fan of the ‘original Hyacinth’, Patricia Routledge, Howard said: “This is a gift of a part… I can’t wait to play her. She taught me about how you use your face, about intonation, about how your body embodies a gag. She’s totally uncensored. She’s going for the gag in every sense. She’s brilliant and I don’t think there’s a performer out there doing that now. The opportunity to have a go at it myself is really exciting. It’s a dream role. And Roy Clarke’s written it. It’s so good, so good.” The wonderful thing about this is that you get the feeling that Howard really does understand the comic genius that is Patricia Routledge and that this could very well be ‘the role of a lifetime’ for her.
Set in the late 1950s, the one-off episode of Young Hyacinth will focus on the early days of Hyacinth Bucket and try to give us more of an understanding as to just how our favorite social-climbing snob came to be as she desperately tries to force her family to climb the social ladder. Who knows, we may actually get to see Violet this time around!
If you are thinking that with Young Hyacinth, you’ll be a seeing a snobbish teenager that resembles someone in the cast of Mean Girls or Heathers, you might need to think again. Remember, our Hyacinth originally came from a poor, working-class background so it’ll be interesting to see at what point in her young, impressionable Wonder Bread years she developed her affection for Royal Doulton china with ‘the hand-painted periwinkles’ and learned to covet the ‘white slimline telephone with automatic redial’.
In addition to Howard, Katie Redford has been cast as Hyacinth’s sister Rose while Game of Thrones and The Full Monty star, Mark Addy, will portray Hyacinth’s father, a part-time brush salesman who travels on a tricycle and also has an alcohol problem. Young Hyacinth will also feature Tony Gardner (Lead Balloon, Last Tango In Halifax, Fresh Meat), Debra Stephenson (The Impressions Show), Tim Downie (Toast Of London) and James Wrighton (I Live With Models).
Howard, who is the sister of comedian Russell Howard, host of Russell Howard’s Good News on BBC2, will start shooting Young Hyacinth this week.