A look back at Richard Wilson as Victor Meldrew in ‘Keeping up appearances’

If you are a fan of British sitcoms, then you have probably heard of the hit series “Keeping Up Appearances.” The show, which aired from 1990 to 1995, follows the life of Hyacinth Bucket, a middle-class woman who strives to appear wealthy and sophisticated.

Series Details

“Keeping Up Appearances” ran for a total of five seasons and 44 episodes. The show was created by Roy Clarke and produced by BBC Television. It starred Patricia Routledge as Hyacinth Bucket, with other notable cast members including Clive Swift, Josephine Tewson, and Geoffrey Hughes.


The show revolves around Hyacinth Bucket and her attempts to climb the social ladder. She is obsessed with appearances and status, often putting on airs and graces in order to impress her neighbors and others around her. Her long-suffering husband, Richard, is often caught up in her schemes and attempts to keep her grounded.

Despite her best efforts, however, Hyacinth’s attempts at social climbing often end in disaster. Her neighbors, the lower-class and often eccentric couple, Onslow and Daisy, provide a humorous contrast to Hyacinth’s stuffy ways.

Catchphrase: “I don’t believe it!”

One of the most memorable aspects of “Keeping Up Appearances” is the recurring catchphrase, “I don’t believe it!” This phrase is often used by Hyacinth’s long-suffering husband, Richard, in response to her outlandish schemes and over-the-top behavior.

The catchphrase has become a cultural touchstone and is still widely recognized today, even by those who have never seen the show. Richard Wilson was relieved when it was suggested his comic alter ego Victor Meldrew be killed off

The 86-year-old comedian had grown “wearisome” of playing the angry old man in ‘One Foot in the Grave’ – which ran from 1990 to 2000 – and was sick of fans shouting his catchphrase, “I don’t believe it”, while out in the street, so he was pleased when showrunner David Renwick came up with an idea to end the show for good.

Richard said: “I’d been doing it for quite a long while and I was getting a bit wearisome of being angry all the time. “David said, ‘I’m thinking of killing Victor. What do you think?’ I said, ‘Kill him. Do it’.”

“I got the catchphrase shouted at me everywhere. In foreign countries, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s got here as well’.”

But while Richard was aware the show was ending and Victor would be killed in a hit-and-run, it came as a shock to the rest of the cast when they received their scripts.

Angus Deayton, who played neighbour Patrick, said: “I had no idea that it was going to be the final series until I saw the script for the last show and saw that Victor was going to die.”

And Doreen Mantle, who starred as Jean Warboys, added: “I was very sad. I didn’t want the series to end. But it was time that it ended.”

Richard praised his co-star Annette Crosbie, 89, who played Victor’s long-suffering wife Margaret, for her comedic work. He said: “She had never done a sitcom. But she was a very good comedian. She was quite straight, in many ways. But her comedy was very well done.”

Angus added: “Richard’s character is obviously the sort of serious one and Annette is a slightly lighter, jollier one. Annette was actually the more serious of the two and Richard was always playing jokes, keeping everything light and jolly.”

Overall, “Keeping Up Appearances” remains a beloved classic of British sitcoms, with its memorable characters, witty humor, and enduring catchphrase.

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Stevie Flavio
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