On February 17th 2019 Dame Patricia Rutledge, a long time supporter of theatre in Bristol, celebrated her 90th birthday. The Slade family and all others associated with this website, in particular the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, where she and Julian first met nearly seventy years ago, sent her their very best wishes.
PATRICIA ROUTLEDGE and JAMES CAIRNCROSS in ‘Christmas (Back) in King St’ (1959)
Photograph: Desmond Tripp . Courtesy of the University of Bristol Theatre Collection
In her long career Patricia has played many parts on stage and television but, perhaps because she is so well known for her television role as the dominating wife Hyacinth Bucket in ‘Keeping Up Appearances’, her singing talents have not always been remembered as they should be. For example. in 1954 Patricia played the part of Carlotta t=in the Bristol Old Vic production of Sheridan’s comic opera ‘The Duenna’ for which Julian Slade had written new music. This production came to London where it was praised by audiences and critics alike. In 1959 she played ‘Mrs Rooms’, mother to’ Victoria Rooms, in the Bristol revival of Julian and Dorothy Reynolds’ 1952 Christmas show ‘Christmas in King St’. In 1960 the show was adapted for London audiences and re-named ‘Follow That Girl’,succeeding ‘Salad Days’ at the Vaudeville Theatre and again starring Patricia. This time Mrs Rooms became ‘Mrs Gilchrist’ and ‘Victoria Gilchrist’ was played by Susan Hampshire.
Over the years Patricia has been a wonderful friend both to The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and to Julian’s memory, most recently (2017) making a special guest appearance in ‘A Celebration of the Music and Songs of Julian Slade’, a one night compilation show marking the 70th Anniversary of the Theatre School snd the 10th Anniversary of the School’s Julian Slade Award. The Award was set up in 2007 in Julian’s memory by his brother Adrian and nephew Rupert Slade. It is given each year to the student showing the most exceptional musical talent.
This show was staged at Bristol’s Redgrave Theatre and performed by seven of the Award winners, ably assisted by five current students. Patricia’s guest appearance and memories of julian were a very special contribution to the success of the evening.
Adrian, Rupert and the whole Slade family wished her a very Happy 90th Birthday!
PAUL RUMMER, Principal of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, added: ‘On the occasion of Dame Patricia’s ninetieth birthday, I would like to wish her many happy returns from all her friends at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. She was one of the very early students at the School while it was still based in the docks near the Bristol Old Vic. She has always been a quietly active supporter of the school and its students; most recently she was part of our celebration of the music of Julian Slade. During rehearsals on the day she gave an impromptu example of how to deliver lines with absolute clarity, something those in the theatre at the time will never forget. Dame Patricia is a role model for our students and we wish her the happiest of birthdays.’