For numerous reasons, I’m quite ready to let go of 2016, no questions asked. 2017 has started off brilliantly, however, with the news that Chichester’s own Patricia Routledge would be among the Queen’s New Year Honors being awarded DBE for her services to theatre and charity.
A long-time passionate supporter of the arts who has enjoyed a lengthy relationship with the Chichester Festival Theatre, Ms. Routledge is best known for her role as Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances, the situation comedy that holds the distinction of being THE most successful program in BBC history when it comes to international broadcast.
Armed with her early theatre training background from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Patricia Routledge launched her career at the Liverpool Playhouse. She spent years, professionally, on stage and in theatre (which included a 1968 ‘Best Actress in a Musical’ Tony Award for her performance in Darling of the Day) in addition to several big screen appearances including To Sir, With Love with Sidney Poitier and Don’t Raise the Bridge, Lower the River with Jerry Lewis.
It was 1969 when her relationship with the Chichester Festival Theatre began. “I first came here to perform in 1969, but I had been brought down to see it when it was still in the process of being built, said Routledge. “They didn’t insist on hard hats in those days, but I remember tramping over wood shavings and wires. And I just couldn’t believe it. So many people couldn’t believe it.”
“It really was the most amazing achievement especially when you think of the opposition (CFT founder) Leslie Evershed-Martin had when he first voiced the idea – and then everyone thought he was absolutely out of his mind when he had the idea of asking Laurence Olivier to start the company. Leslie Evershed-Martin had passion and vision, and he had a dogged determination and belief that it really could be done.”
One can only imagine the next time the private, slimline telephone with automatic redial rings in the Bucket household, you can almost hear the words, “The Bucket residence, the Dame of the house speaking…”, can’t you?