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'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.

- Paul Rance/

On The Buses Cast List

Cicely Courtneidge - Mum (first series 1969)
Doris Hare - Mum (1969-73)
Bob Grant - Jack
Anna Karen - Olive
Stephen Lewis - Inspector Cyril 'Blakey' Blake
Michael Robbins - Arthur
Reg Varney - Stan Butler
Henry McGee - Centre Manager

On The Buses Episode List

Series 1
The Early Shifts
The New Conductor
Olive Takes A Trip
Bus Driver's Stomach
The New Inspector
The Canteen
The Darts Match

Series 2
Family Flu
The Used Combination
Self Defence
Aunt Maud
Late Again
Bon Voyage

Series 3
First Aid
The Cistern
The Inspector's Niece
Brew It Yourself
Busman's Perks
The Snake
Mum's Last Fling
Radio Control
Foggy Night
The New Uniforms
Going Steady
The Squeeze
On The Make

Series 4
Nowhere To Go
The Canteen Girl
Dangerous Driving
The Other Woman
Christmas Duty
The 'L' Bus
The Kids' Outing
The Anniversary
The Cover Up
Safety First
The Lodger
The Injury
Not Tonight

Series 5
The Nursery
Stan's Room
The Best Man
The Inspector's Pets
The Epidemic
The Busmen's Ball
Canteen Trouble
The New Nurse
Lost Property
Stan's Uniform
The Strain
The New Telly
Vacancy For Inspector
A Thin Time
Boxing Day Social

Series 6
No Smoke Without Fire
Love Is What You Make It
Private Hire
Stan's Worst Day
Union Trouble
Bye Bye Blakey
The Prize

Series 7
Olive's Divorce
The Perfect Clippie
The Ticket Machine
The Poster
The Football Match
On The Omnibuses
Goodbye Stan
Hot Water
The Visit
What The Stars Foretell
The Allowance
Friends In High Places
Gardening Time

On The Buses, 1971
Mutiny On The Buses, 1972
Holiday On The Buses, 1973

On The Buses DVDs available from - in association with

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