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 before heading to the small screen with early guest parts on Steptoe and Son, Coronation Street and Doctor at Large. In the mid-80’s, she became quite well-known as “Kitty” on Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, a role that looks a bit like the very early stages of Hyacinth Bucket.
As we celebrate Dame Patricia Routledge’s 88th birthday today, I’m reminded of a point in time in the late 1990’s that we had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interview her for a salute to British comedy program for broadcast on public television in the States. It was like sitting down with your favorite aunt or close friend. It was several years later when we, again, had the great good fortune to interview Ms. Routledge for the PBS special, The Funny Ladies of British Comedy. It was like seeing our favorite aunt all over again. You just wished it could be more than once every several years.
Days before the interview, we had several phone calls with her to briefly discuss our line of questioning but mostly to give us both time to become comfortable with each other prior to the interview. When the day came for the interview, because of extensive preparation on both ends, we came away feeling like we had just been schooled, in the most extremely positive way, in Comedy 101 while getting a brilliant look behind-the-scenes of the making of Keeping Up Appearances. We treasured every moment.
Here are two clips from that second PBS interview (the first starts with her co-star in Keeping Up Appearances, Judy Cornwell, with Patricia starting at approximately 2:35 into the clip).
Interview with Patricia Routledge for PBS’ Funny Ladies of British Comedy, pt 2
Happy 89th, Dame Patricia Routledge. Thank you for the lifetime of smiles you have given us over the years.