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For Midweek Madness, the vintage voice of Patricia ("Hyacinth Bucket") Routledge

By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun

11:21 AM EST, February 19, 2014

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OK, so the first thing you need to know about this Midweek Madness installment is that it isn't quite mad.

But let's face it, when you think of Patricia Routledge, who turned 85 this week, you think of Hyacinth Bucket (it's pronounced "bouquet"), the fussy, snobby character she portrayed to hilarious effect on the 1990s Britcom "Keeping Up Appearances." (Given how often it still airs on PBS stations over here, perhaps it could also be called "Keeping Up Ratings.")

One of the many brilliant things about Miss Routledge is her ability to imitate hideous singing as Hyacinth.  It takes a true singer to do that perfectly, and she is a true singer. Her long, distinguished list of credits includes the E.Y. Harburg/Jule Styne musical "Darling of the Day," which earned her a Tony, and the ill-fated "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" by Leonard Bernstein and Alan Jay Lerner.

Her 1970s album of ballads and things includes this pretty tune, "And I Was Beautiful," from Jerry Herman's "Dear World." Not mad, as I said, but certainly unexpected and diverting, which makes it appropriate enough for Midweek Madness -- and for sending birthday greetings to the divine Patricia Routledge.