What Happened to “Keeping Up Appearances?”
by David Thiel
It's difficult to correctly anticipate the reaction I'll receive to a change in our regular program lineup. Sometimes a single night's pre-emption is enough to spur an audience member to call and demand the return of their favorite show. Sometimes weeks--or, in extreme cases, months--go by before I hear from anyone.
In the case of the British comedy Keeping Up Appearances, three Saturdays off the air was what it took. I've received perhaps a dozen calls and e-mails about it.
So, why did we send Hyacinth Bucket off on holiday?
Keeping Up Appearances (henceforth KUA) has been part of the WILL-TV lineup for a long time. We began airing it Sunday, April 2, 1995. When I initiated "Britcom Saturday Night" on June 7, 1997, it was the first show of our two-hour comedy block. By the time I put it on hiatus last December, those same 44 episodes had run in a nearly unbroken loop for more than 18 years. Children born when it premiered were looking forward to their high school graduations.
With another two-year license renewal impending, I felt that it at last might be time to give KUA a "rest." I already had more than enough comedy inventory to keep "Britcom Saturday Night" running beyond July, the beginning of our next fiscal year.
Our program acquisition budget is tight, and repurchasing KUA meant not having the money to try something new. I'd been hearing good things about the new Father Brown mystery series coming out of England, and was eager to bring it here. So, it really did come down to a simple choice: air KUA for the umpteenth time, or give our viewers the opportunity to enjoy a brand new show?
Father Brown premieres Thursday, March 13 at 8:00 pm.
None of this is to say that Hyacinth will be permanently pushing up daisies. I fully expect that she will return one day, Royal Doulton tea cup in hand.