Dame Patricia Routledge reminisces on her connection with the Queen

Even at 94, the screen legend is still keeping up appearances!

Dame Patricia Routledge breaks into the warmest smile while reminiscing about her stellar stage and screen career, which is now in its eighth decade.

“When I think about my showbiz life, I’ve loved every minute,” says the British-born star from her home in Chichester, UK.

“As a youngster, I dreamed of becoming a school teacher. Driving around in a flashy red sports car, with romances all over Europe during the holidays,” laughs the spry nonagenarian, who adds that acting became her calling.

“I began performing while at university. Then in 1952, I was fortunate to start work at the Liverpool Playhouse. I did everything from sweeping the floor to ensuring the actors made it to the stage on time.

“That same year, I made my professional stage debut in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Liverpool Playhouse. What a thrill that was!”

And what followed has been an extraordinary acting and singing career that has captivated millions of fans all over the world and, as a testament to her talents, a mantlepiece brimming with prestigious accolades, including an Olivier Award in the UK and a Tony for her starring role in a Broadway musical.

“The theatre is my first love, but I’ve also been blessed to have enjoyed great success on television and in the movies,” she tells.

The actress rubbed shoulders with royalty.

In 1990, Dame Patricia landed the plum role of snobbish social climber Hyacinth Bucket in the TV sitcom Keeping Up Appearances.

“Hyacinth leapt from the page,” she recalls. “I started to read that first script at 1am and couldn’t put it down.

“Her delusions of grandeur were outrageous. She sparked my imagination and I drew on the memories of several ladies I remember as a young girl.

“I have fond memories of working on that show and made many close friends.”

Sadly, most of her co-stars – Clive Swift, who played her hen-pecked husband Richard, Geoffrey Hughes, who played slovenly Onslow, Josephine Tewson as neighbour Elizabeth and Mary Millar, who played her sister Rose – have all gone. “Their passings are a profound sadness to me,” she says.

With co-star Clive.

Keeping Up Appearances was an international hit and had many famous viewers, with Patricia revealing, “It was one of the Queen Mother’s favourite sitcoms.

“And the late Queen Elizabeth liked it too,” she adds. “Hyacinth would be flattered beyond words!”

And while its popularity only grew each year, Hyacinth hung up her slimline phone “with last number redial” and put away her Royal Doulton tea set “with the hand-painted periwinkles” for the last time in 1995.

“I always think it’s better to go out on a high, leaving viewers wanting more than to linger too long and have them say, ‘Oh, is that still on?'” she reflects.

In 2017, Patricia was made a dame for her services to theatre and charity.

“That was one of the highest highlights of my life,” she confides. “The then-Prince Charles – now King Charles – had a word in my ear… You know what he said? ‘At last they have noticed!'”

A special moment with Charles.

In 2000, Dame Patricia made her first trip Down Under, to star in the stage production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Although mostly retired, Dame Patricia still tours with her conversation piece, Facing the Music, travelling around the UK and Ireland.

“You know, to still be working is such a thrill, as is getting out of bed each morning,” she laughs.

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