We had a real chuckle this morning when flicking through the channels on TV, when we came across the episode from 1993 of the very popular UK comedy with Patricia Routledge "Keeping Up Appearances" where she plays a pompous and incident prone Mrs Bucket.

The official slab about the episode that take place on the QE2 says:

"Sea Fever - Season 4, One-hour special (December 26, 1993) - Hyacinth has finally gotten her dream of cruising on the QE2, just like the starlets of old. But, when her attempts to find a superior path to the docks land her and Richard far-off the beaten path, it's she who ends up with mud in her eye. Also, finally catching up with the QE2 is not the end of her adventures; there's someone on board that shouldn't be, and Hyacinth needs to figure out what's going on!"

This hour long episode takes place all over the ship as Hyacinth chases all over it, looking for her sister and brother-in-law who she thinks have stowed away. They have in fact won a prize that puts them in a better cabin than Hyacinth is in (getting refused entry to the Queens Grill while her "poor relations" join the captain as part of their big prize they had won).

The ship looks a bit tatty and a bit "old fashioned". But it was 1993!

I had read in one of the message boards a discussion about this episode and the fact that Patricia had been back on the QE2 in her personal capacity as a passenger. Guess she got hooked too!


"QE2: The Royal Voyage" VHS

This 60-minute video was made in 1990, on the crossing that was celebrating the 150th anniversary of Cunard and the 21st for the QE2.

It follows the journey and observations of a chap called Bill Tidy who “wrote and presented” the video. There in is the problem!

The video itself now (of course) suffers from being very dated, as it is now some 14 years old! So part of the flaws are based on what was probably seen as “hip” at the time. But the main drawback is that you feel like you are watching your slightly loopy uncle’s holiday video.

Bill takes us on the celebratory crossing from New York to Cork (where Cunard ships used to pick-up Irish emigrants), then on to Liverpool, the Glasgow shipyard where she was built, Cherbourg (which used to be the key continental pick-up point and then to the meeting by the Queen on the Royal Yacht as the QE2 was proceeding up the Solent. The Queen and prince Philip board the QE2.

So it should have been a riveting and mesmerising story and video. Unfortunately, Bill Tidy decided to use as the main feature and flow that linked it all together silly and completely joke interviews. This may be fun on your home video, but ruined what could have been some really interesting interviews. He interviews the Cruise Director, Chief Engineer, the celebrities (Alan Tichmarsh, Roy Castle, Alan Wicker and some radio DJ I cannot remember) and some passengers and we find nothing out from them as they are talking nonsense (e.g. about the supposed live chicken run, the engines and controls not being for the engines but for the caviar, champagne and yoghurt machines, the “hip hip hooray” classes, the deck checker (Roy Castle in tap shoes), the 24 hour ship DJ who sleeps in instalments of 2 min and 30 seconds while songs are playing etc…..).

The only person he does not get away with (or maybe did not dare to) was the Captain who he interviews (and looks very uncomfortable being interviewed!).

To try and compensate there are then sub titles running through a lot of the video listing facts and figures about the QE2 which you cannot follow as they jar with what is going on on-screen.

There are, though, many spectacular shots from the air of the ship arriving and leaving the ports and on the Atlantic and so it is not all home made feel!

The ship also looks very dated and a bit tatty. But maybe that is more to do with the fashion and design being “of 1990” than anything, and maybe if we had seen the video in 1990 would have thought it looked great!.

This video is the kind of home made video your dad would have made when he got his hands on his first video camera and would subject you to every Christmas. Saying that though, after a few drinks at Christmas it may just take on a cult film status and be most entertaining….


"QE2: The last great liner" (Castle Communications) 1995

I own 2 versions of this video. One of which is billed as a "WH Smith Exclusive Video & Book" (pictured) and then just a video version with the same cover without the "WH Smith" flag and without the book!

The booklet that comes with the video is 96 pages and gives a more detailed history and lots of facts and figures, describing for example what is on each of the decks. This video covers the history of the QE2 from conception through to refits in 1994. It is a fairly "sanitised" version of the story, and either ignores or glosses over some of the trials and tribulations in the history.

It has interviews with the 1st master (Warwick) and a fairly detailed one with Master Jackson (the one who took the QE2 to the Falklands when it was requisitioned). There are then some other interviews with various historians and commentators. The problem is that the quality of the interviews (like the other videos I have seen so far) are of very "home made" quality and style.

This was the 1st video I ever saw about the QE2 and it is enjoyable and interesting, although it is now very dated but gives a good sense in 55 minutes of the ship and the inside and outside.


 "QE2: The Queen of the Seas" video review.

Of all the videos I have watched on the QE2 so far (see my other reviews), this is the one that I have enjoyed the most, found to be the best produced and (even though it is dated now as made in 1933) gives the best views and coverage of the ship.

It was shot towards the end of the QE2 world cruise as it left Southampton on the Mediterranean leg. Narrated by the UK news reader Michael Beurk, it has a well written script, great cross section of interviews with people who have been on the full world cruise and great photography.

This is the video I would recommend to see and learn about the QE2

Links: CUNARD.CO.UK          
Mail me: Gary Bembridge