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ON THE BUSES
'On the Buses' was one of the most popular British sitcoms of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In its time, 'On The Buses' was as popular as 'Dad's Army' and 'Steptoe And Son'.
Beginning in 1969, 'On the Buses' was the brainchild of Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney, and was set in a bus depot. Made for ITV, by London Weekend Television, the series ran until 1973. As well as 74 TV episodes, the half hour series was so popular that three 'On the Buses' movies were also made.
Two Jack the Lads
The three main stars of the series were bus driver Stan Butler (played by Reg Varney), his conductor friend Jack (Bob Grant), and their nemesis, the permanently miserable Inspector Blake, better known as 'Blakey' (Stephen Lewis). 'Blakey' loathed Stan and Jack, as they only seemed interested in chasing after young women, and he considered that they didn't take their job seriously enough. 'On the Buses' was really of its time, and some of its humour would probably be considered too sexist for modern audiences.
Whereas Stan and Jack were mischievous, the other male characters in the series were more lugubrious. As well as 'Blakey', another important male character was Stan's brother-in-law, Arthur, who was played by Michael Robbins. Arthur was in a loveless marriage with Olive (Anna Karen), who he plainly felt no longer attracted to. Olive knew this, and was prone to emotional outbursts as a result.
Stan is middle-aged and lives at home with his mother (Cicely Courtneidge/Doris Hare), and the oddball pair of frumpy sister Olive (Anna Karen) and her miserable husband, Arthur (Michael Robbins). The latter three were also an important ingredient to the success of the show.
The Legendary 'Blakey'
Though it seems dated now, 'On the Buses' produced one of the most famous characters in British sitcom history in Inspector 'Blakey'. He was in the British comedy tradition of grumpy men who made fools of themselves. Like Alf Garnett from 'Till Death Us Do Part', Basil Fawlty from 'Fawlty Towers', and Victor Meldrew from 'One Foot in the Grave', 'Blakey' would get increasingly more exasperated when things went wrong. He was also made to look a little like Adolf Hitler to make the character seem even more ridiculous. But 'Blakey' did end up with a catchphrase that became legendary, namely, "I 'ate you, Butler."
There were seven series of 'On the Buses', and the final episode was 'Gardening Time', which was broadcast on May 20th, 1973. Stuart Allen produced and directed the first four series, and Derrick Goodwin and Bryan Izzard produced and directed the later series. The films are often repeated on British television, and the series itself has been repeated on ITV3 in 2011.
On The Buses Cast List
Cicely Courtneidge - Mum (first series 1969)
On The Buses Episode List
On The Buses DVDs available from booksmusicfilmstv.com - in association with Amazon.co.uk
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