On the Buses (TV Series 1969–1973) Poster

(1969–1973)

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Cor blimey Jack ! -- -- Stone the crows Stan!
dgrahamwatson5 September 2005
A huge cult like following way back then. In the days when there was only three TV channels "on the buses" was a gimmie when up against "Songs with praise" and some 1940's movie on BBC 2. Despite it being over 30 years old the last time I saw it a couple of years back I still found it reasonably amusing , although very dated and obviously politically incorrect. If you love political incorrectness this is the stuff for you! Let's just add it all up.

The flirting and groping of mini skirted female staff, (who for what ever reason were labeled as 'clippy's), the endless helpings of cholesterol laden food in the form of chips, eggs, bacon, meat pies and sausages in the canteen. Smoking cigarettes, no female bus drivers, a west Indian employee called 'Chalky' .( I cringe when you think that people were still laughing at the gag "I hope your head get's better" to an Indian employee wearing a turban). Lastly, Butlers tormentor Inspector Blakey who they insulted all the time, whose image was obviously based on Adolf Hitler with his mustache. I tell you it does not get any better than this.

It's hard to imagine today a comedy series being made about bus conductors in general let alone two homely looking middle aged men flirting with young women. In addition the average age of the cast in this series was probably 45 you would never get that nowadays! Yet it has to be said that there have been a number of comedy duffers that have long since come and gone that in no way can stand up to this one.

Memorable episodes, well, Stans new uniform getting ruined, getting radios for the buses that interfered with the airlines, Stan getting drunk on his home brew and Jack and Stan trying to impress the birds with their snazzy new uniforms claiming they were airline pilots. It's a credit to the writers that it is still watchable today!
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9/10
"Oh Arthur, Can I Take My Nightie Off?". "Zzzzzzzzzzzzz".
ShadeGrenade12 July 2006
British working class sitcoms were in vogue in the late '60's and early '70's, such as 'Steptoe & Son', 'Till Death Us Do Part', and, of course, this. Incredibly, the B.B.C. turned 'On The Buses' down even though the writers had devised the highly popular 'The Rag Trade'. London Weekend Television profited by their mistake.

'On The Buses' boasted a terrific cast and ( for the most part ) very funny scripts. Viewers cheered as driver Stan Butler and conductor Jack Harper frequently got one over the pompous Inspector 'Blakey' Blake. All over the country, his catchphrase "I 'ate you, Butler" could be heard in workplaces and playgrounds. And as for the sexy 'clippies'...sorry, feminists, but they really did exist, I'm afraid.

My favourite characters were the dowdy Olive and her grumpy husband Arthur. Even when the punchlines could be seen coming a mile off, they were usually delivered with panache and immaculate comic timing. Three movies were made, none as funny as the original, and a stage version in Canada in the late '80's. Its impossible to explain the show's appeal to young people, but it struck a chord with millions of viewers, and should not be dismissed lightly.
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"Favourite British sitcom!"
jamesraeburn200316 October 2003
On The Buses was the creation of the writing duo Ronald Wolfe & Ronald Chesney. It was rejected by the BBC, but it's extraordinary success on ITV makes the former's decision rather foolish. Indeed some found it vulgar in that Reg Varney's Stan Butler was chasing after young clippie's young enough to be his daughters, and it was cheeply made but this didn't deter audiences from loving it. It ran for four years from 1969 to 1973. A testament to the enormous populartity of the series is that three big-screen spin-offs were produced by Hammer. They were On The Buses (1971), Mutiny On The Buses (1972)and Holiday On The Buses (1973). They all retained the regular TV cast and the first of the films became the most popular British film of 1971. Made for only £97,000, it's takings even outgrossed the James Bond film of that year, Diamonds Are Forever.

The situation comedy revolved around the home life of bus driver Stan Butler (Reg Varney)who lived with is overly devoted mother (played by Cicely Courtneige in the first series, but replaced by Doris Hare at the start of the second series and remained thereafter), his none-to-bright sister Olive (Anna Karen) and his idle brother-in-law Arthur (Michael Robbins). The situation comedy also focused on his friendship with his lechurous conductor Jack (Bob Grant) and their uneasy relationship with their petty and miserable Inspector Blake (Stephen Lewis), known to them as Blakey. Then there was the womanising antics of both Stan and Jack, quite often it would go all wrong for Stan because his family never approved of the girls he brought home.

Michael Robbins left the series just prior to the last series, the writers came up with the scenario that Arthur finally walked out on Olive, and that they were looking to divorce. Reg Varney would soon leave with the hope of becoming a star of films in specials, but this turned out to be unsuccessful and little was heard of him after that. In the story Stan went to work in a bus factory in the Midlands, and Inspector Blakey became the main attraction as he moved in to the Butler household as a lodger. Towards the end, Ronald Wolfe & Ronald Chesney gave up their position as the series' house writers, and later scripts were supplied by cast members Bob Grant and Stephen Lewis as well as people like George Layton.

On The Buses is my favourite sitcom because it's one of the very few which have made me laugh. I also like the way it portrayed the working class background and the characters, especially Arthur (Michael Robbins) were marvelous, I will never forget them!
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8/10
Best Served with Fish and Chips and a Cuppa Tea
sts-2625 June 2008
Back in the early seventies, when I was a very small child, CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) ran On The Buses on Sundays in the late evening. During holidays (Christmas, the summer) I would be allowed to stay up and watch. I loved the show, even though most of the jokes went right over my head; there was, despite the jibes, a sense of family and community, and a complete lack of airs and graces (this was no Masterpiece Theatre presentation).

There was something warm and fuzzy about the show; it captured the ramshackle coziness of mid-twentieth century English working class life so often depicted on television, in the movies and literature (maybe more a folksy ideal than actual reality). And for Anglophiles, shows like On The Buses provided THE lexicon - Gordon Bennet, a good cuppa, blimey, a bit of how's your father. Many British comedies followed in Buses' footsteps - most notably Are You Being Served and Only Fools and Horses- and were better produced, better acted, and longer lived, but this was one of the first great iconic English working class comedies.

Before the arrival of VCRs I would often wish for another viewing of On The Buses, but it never came - first, there were waves of British TV programs washing up on North American shores, and so there was no looking back, then the flood of VHS, then DVD, releases made an actual TV run unnecessary. However, a specialty channel in Canada began televising the show again, and I was pleased to see that the magic is still there.

Go on, put the kettle on, and let's have a butcher's.
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Only positive things can be said.
MillBay24 July 1999
This British comedy realistically portrays the lower-middle class existence. We have Stan, the bus driver, who is approaching middle-age, but still lives at home and helps support his Mum. Living in the same household is Stan's sister, Olive, and her husband, Arthur. Everybody lives together and pools their resources due to economic conditions. The home is a row house, and nothing fancy. This is much more realistic than many comedies of today, where minimum wage earners live in large Manhattan apartments, which only Bill Gates could afford to rent or own.

This is definitely one of my favourite television series of all time. There is not one person in the cast who doesn't belong. Each character brings a unique talent and comedic style which makes this series one of the greatest. Who can ever forget poor, homely Olive and all the ridicule she must endure from her layabout husband, Arthur, and brother, Stan. And then there's Inspector Blake, who must endure his bus driver, Stan, and conductor, Jack(Stan's best friend), who call Blake everything from Dracula to Hitler. Of course, Blake's contempt for his workers doesn't make their life any easier either. I must say that I love British comedies and truly feel that this one is one of the best. I see that videos of the three "On the Buses" movies are available now, as are many of the episodes and I strongly recommend them if you want an evening of wit and entertainment. A rare treat indeed.
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7/10
Funny, But Not As Great All These Years Later
crossbow010624 September 2010
I can just imagine everyone sitting by the telly watching this first run then. Decades later, its amusing, but not a revelation. The characters are good, Reg Varney was a class comic actor and the supporting characters are fine. A few things do grate on you when you listen to more than 2 episodes at a time, namely Mum's piercing scream "Stan!" and the constant put downs about Olive. If memory serves, they tried to adapt this show for American television, a short lived series called "Lotsa Luck" starring Dom Deluise. I liked the show,but my context is not nostalgic, since they did not run this series in America. For many, this is revisiting an old friend. I especially liked that Bob Grant (Jack) and Stephen Lewis (Inspector Blake) co-wrote a number of the episodes, their episodes were some of the best later ones. So, in a nutshell, if you're watching for the first time, watch two episodes at a time and you'll enjoy it. For those who grew up with the show, add a grade or two from mine and enjoy watching the show again.
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10/10
Better than the moon landings anyday
parcdelagrange4 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
21st August 1969, the BBC was running a whole evening covering the landing on the moon by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin earlier that day, ITV was showing the most recent episode of 'On The Buses', I was in borstal at the time, and this was long before the days of prisoners having TV in cells, we had one television (black and white) in the recreation room, which we were allowed to watch for half an hour hour each night, there were only 3 channels to choose from, BBC, ITV and BBC2, and the 'screws' used to ask for a show of hands to see which channel we would watch on any particular evening. You may have thought, that because of the importance of the event, we would overwhelmingly vote to watch the moon landing ... you would be wrong, we voted almost unanimously to watch 'On The Buses' .. that was the popularity of the programme back then. Now, over 40 years later and watching it on re-runs, I can still see why we voted as we did. It was so ludicrous that it was brilliant, the characters were all of the seaside comic postcard variety, even back in the late 60's/early 70's, the idea of a 40 year old man living with his mother and dysfunctional sister/brother-in-law would be considered suspicious, and the notion that 2 middle aged and not particularly good looking men at that, would be able to 'pull clippies' young enough to be their daughters is the basic joke the series revolved around. It is good old fashioned, bawdy, slapstick fun, not meant to be taken seriously, and all the better for not being fettered by being made before the political correct brigade ruined entertainment as we knew it.
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10/10
''Get that bus out!''
Rabical-9113 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
'On The Buses' is in my book one of the funniest and most underrated British sitcoms of all time. Despite running for seven series and spawning three movie spin-offs, it strangely seems to have fallen off the radar.

'On The Buses' was the brainchild of writing duo Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney and starred the late, great Reg Varney as cheeky chappie bus driver Stan Butler. The premise was pretty basic - Stan worked for the Luxton & District bus company and lived with his domineering mother ( Cicely Courtneidge, then Doris Hare ), his well meaning but none too bright sister Olive ( Anna Karen ) and her layabout husband Arthur ( Michael Robbins ). His best friend is Jack Harper ( Bob Grant ), who also works for Luxton & District as a conductor and spends much of his time with Stan either trying to pull the clippies or making life hell for the small minded Inspector Cyril Blake ( Stephen Lewis ).

The idea was originally put to the BBC by Wolfe and Chesney but the corporation, thinking it would not have been a success, rejected it ( despite the fact that the writers had earlier devised for them the hugely successful 'The Rag Trade' and 'Meet The Wife' ). It was then taken to ITV where Frank Muir, then head of the light entertainment department of London Weekend Television, recognised the show's potential. The critics tore it apart, of course, but viewers took to it straight away.

If you were to discern from my description of 'On The Buses' that it was cheap, smutty and had all the subtlety of a slap in the face with a wet fish, you would be right, but to say that it wasn't funny would be nothing short of churlish. I have been a fan of 'On The Buses' ever since I was a child and to this day I never tire of watching it. 'On The Buses' was also a hit over in America, so much so that they even attempted their own version - 'Lotsa Luck' - which starred the late Dom DeLouise as Stan Belmont, a lost property clerk at New York City's bus depot. It bombed.

My favourite characters apart from Stan and Jack, were Mum and Arthur. Michael Robbins in particular was one of the jewels in the show's crown and when he left after series six it just was not the same. To make matters worse, Reg Varney jumped ship half way through the final series as he felt the show was running itself into the ground. That seemed to be it for 'On The Buses'.

Well, no, not quite. Stephen Lewis' Blakey received his own show - 'Don't Drink The Water' - in which he, along with prudish sister Dorothy ( Pat Coombs ), retired to Spain. Anna Karen's Olive was also spun off into another show - the late '70's retread of 'The Rag Trade'. A revival entitled 'Back On The Buses' ( reuniting the entire cast including Michael Robbins ) was planned in the early '90s but due to Reg Varney's health problems, the project was sadly abandoned.

Even allowing for the fact that much of it has dated, 'On The Buses' is still an absolute joy to watch and will remain so for years to come. Favourite episode? Probably it would be 'Brew It Yourself' in which Stan takes up home brewing. Second to that would be 'Vacancy For Inspector' in which Jack gets promoted to the rank of inspector.
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I'll get you Butler!'
Guru-1713 February 1999
A truly classic piece of totally un-pc British sit-com. Men approaching 50 'pulling the birds' (Especially Jack!) A genius comedy creation in 'Blakey' and summed up with the much missed Michael Robins' pained smile. Check out the TV series before watching any of the films as they do not do the programme justice.
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Bob Grant, 1932 - 2003
BritishFilms121 November 2003
This is classic sitcom at it's finest. It follows the adventures of a London bus driver [Reg Varney] and his conductor [Bob Grant] on the No. 13 route to the Cemetery Gates. Inspector "Blakey" brought fame to Stephen Lewis who later became a famous face as Smiler in Last of the Summer Wine, but here he is in his most famous role ["Get that bus out"].Three feature films [On the Buses, Mutiny on the Buses, Holiday on the Buses] did the TV series no favours I recently read of Grant's death from suicide [aged 71]. It came as a great shock, as he always appeared to be such a happy person on the programme.
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10/10
On The Buses Is The Greatest Sit-com Of All Time.
caledoniancraig-128 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In my book On The Buses is the greatest sit-com of all time.It has all the ingredients to make superb viewing such as:- wonderful cast,great acting,superb scripts,memorable moments,one-liners and double entendres.If you are a member of the politically correct society then this classic is not for you.This series ran for 74 episodes and three spin-off films and quite superbly hits all the right notes.Written by the great comedy writing duo Ronald Chesney and Ronald Wolfe it stars Reg Varney (bus driver Stan),the late Bob Grant (bus conductor Jack Harper),Stephen Lewis (Inspector Blake),the late Doris Hare (Stan's mum),Anna Karen (Stan's sister) and Michael Robbins (Stan's brother-in-law) all of whom excel.
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8/10
Along For The ride
screenman19 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This was a series that was almost a perfect parody of working-class London. Reg Varney et al fitted their characters so well they could have walked into a bus terminal and never been questioned.

I at first loathed the series. There was a bawdy, gross-out thread that seemed to just go beyond that of the 'Carry-On' franchise and smacked of simple bad-taste. And yet the plots were so believable, the characters so life-like, that I found myself enjoying it against my better judgement. A show that can overcome innate prejudice has to have something going for it.

The series employed a great deal of location work with real buses on real (otherwise deserted) streets, which lifted it beyond the simple tedium of studio sitcom and added to its stamp of authenticity. A real bus garage was employed in the shooting.

Thirty years on, we still have buses, but sadly no longer conductors. The operators are often (though not always) rude, sullen and defensive. Passengers are course, ignorant and badly-behaved. It would be hard work to remake the series today and still find any good humour.

But this is still very watchable, if a bit nostalgic. it's a lot funnier than plenty of current 'comedy'.

Even the spin-off movies are worth a look.
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5/10
A bus very low on laughs
videorama-759-85939126 October 2016
The Brits know how to comedy, only here they've really missed. Sorry, but this show is not in the same vein as Some Mothers Do Ave Em, Are you being Served and of course, Benny Hill, probably the greatest English comic out there. Nevertheless, is the characters that make the show, most of all, Stephen Lewis as Blakey. Take him out of the equation, it would be a lesser reason, not to watch it. This is another comedy, which has you wondering when the laughs will start, and when they do, it's only mild laughter. Yes, this weak show, falls short on laughs. Olive, who plays Varney's suffering sister, and indeed is no oil painting, is unforgettable. Second to Blakey is Jack (Bob Grant), a player with the ladies, while Varney is solid as Stan. It may not be funny, but it's still watchable, because of the good performances by the actors. You be the judge.
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Greetings From America!
richard.fuller13 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Bought 12 episodes of this show now available on tape. This show has never seen the light of day in the U.S. of A.

The only person connected here (tho she wasn't in any of these episodes) that I have heard of is Cicely Courtenidge (read about her in a movie actors book; never saw her in a movie. I suspect that book was a British publication), and the only person I recognized in these twelve episodes was Wendy Richard from "Are YOu Being Served?" in one brief appearance.

What did I think of the show? First impression is that it was odd. At this same time, we in America were watching Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, All In The Family, Mary Tyler Moore show, Newhart, MASH.

I remember odd things that might have compared, such as a short-lived show called "The Corner Bar".

But enough of American shows.

I let my sister watch an episode and she thought Olive and Arthur were hysterical.

I thought ol' Stan was excellent at some zingers.

The Inspector didn't seem to really be into it until much later on, in an episode dealing with Stan's health from sitting on the job all day long. Before that, Inspector seemed to strain facial expressions.

I'm watching episodes of Hi De Hi now. Pity we didn't see more of these shows back when they first come out.
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8/10
Middle-aged busmen 'pulling' young girls!
naseby8 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Two lecherous, skiving Busmen, Stan Butler, (Reg Varney) and Jack Harper (the late Bob Grant) are always at odds with their bus Inspector, Blakey (Stephen Lewis) who played an excellent role as the hard-pressed butt of the boys' jokes. (He looked like Hitler, but hadn't the same type of application in taming the two!).

Although they're the main characters, they have able support from Stan's family at home, mostly causing him problems, one way or the other. As great as the first three are, an excellent character in the support role, it has to be said, is Stan's morose brother-in-law, Arthur, (Michael Robbins) who's always at odds with Stan/his family. So although there are plenty of comic exploits 'on the buses', it shows madcap situations in Stan's home and with the family. (Who ALL live in the same house incidentally!). Olive, (Anna Karen) Stan's dowdy, podgy, dim sister is married to Arthur and the butt of his jokes about her being less than sexy, stupid and gluttonous (Though I take his point - she was seen eating pickled onions in bed!) Although she aptly bit back at times with her famous catchphrase "Don't be such a pig!" There was also Doris Hare as 'Mum' though it should be said that's not a lot more than what she was, pretty non-descript.

At times though, the script had very little to do with the buses - one where they're buying a new loo springs to mind, or a snake loose in the house, were thinly tied into anything to do with the buses! Stan and Jack (The latter, the shop steward incidentally, happy to call 'everyone out' and down tools as it were!) are always chasing the mini-skirted 'clippies' (female bus conductors), calling them in typical '70's fashion 'birds'.

Also, they used the bus as their private 'run-around', so were constantly late in doing so and treated the passengers' delays as secondary to their own agenda! (Unless of course, it had anything to do with chatting up a 'bird'!) This is another comedy along with likes of the 'Carry-Ons', 'Benny Hill Show', 'Love Thy Neighbour', ''til Death Us Do Part' etc where 'Political correctness' wasn't entertained - so we were! Old-fashioned it may be, but there were plenty of funny lines in it nonetheless, even if at other times it may have struggled. That said, it seemed a little poor when strangely, Reg Varney as Stan left, an odd situation keeping it running with 'Blakey' lodging at the Butlers' house. Also, Arthur moved on at some point and this is when I think, the series showed it was definitely tired by this time.

One of my favourite lines was at Christmas, Stan noticed the Inspector's Nephew's present of a toy bus, with an equally plastic toy bus crew. Stan says: "Oh, look, this one must be the Inspector - you can see the seam where they stuck his head on!"

Another one berating poor Blakey, where he's being checked out by the company nurse. Nurse: "Perhaps you'll feel better sucking on something." Stan:"Yeah, he will, that's why we call him 'Dracula'!"
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10/10
i remember watching as a young teen such fun
sadie_m_lady2 May 2021
Looking for this show to come back around such fun love british comedy , whole family was a riot.
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10/10
Greats
scottbarry-8835830 March 2021
Absolutely brilliant comedy, never get bored watching these, so much better than the so called comedy around now.
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10/10
Class
bevo-136786 March 2021
A real good old fashion bus movie. Much better than that bus movie speed
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9/10
Great British Old School Comedy
Robbo-313 January 1999
This is some of the most watched old school British comedy shows that was ever screened. If you like in any way the likes of Love Thy Neighbour and similar shows then this is a must! Great show that sadly ended far too soon.
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10/10
Its a great life on the buses!
flyingleerdamer-16 September 2008
An excellent comedy series from 1969 - 1973 starring Reg varney as the clippie chasing Stan and his conductor, Jack.

Inspector Blake is the jobs-worthy inspector who excels at any chance to report, ban and sack his bus crews for immoral behaviour, being a 'puppy' or usually just sex-mad and depraved.

On the buses won an award for best show of 1971 and it is clear to see why.

Together with a great cast including Micael Robbins, Bob Grant and Stephen lewis - On the buses is a legend among sitcoms!

The DVD box-set is well worth a buy, containing extras and archive footage of the team opening housing estates in Braintree, opening a tailors, and a car park. There is also segments from the other Reg Varney and the first episode of the spin-off with Blakey - don't drink the water.

Another treat in the DVD is the play, the best pair of legs in the business, with Reg Varney.

And like, if me you are an avid fan - the on the buses forum is at www.otbfanforum.4umer.net .
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2/10
terrible!!!
maximum196916 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Where to start? Poor writing, lame acting and direction. The worst excesses of 1970's "comedy" The jokes, so called, are over played and hammy. The direction suggests that the louder you say a line, the funnier it is!! When you remember that Monty Python was just being born, snd comedies like Dads Army were around, or Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads as two examples. This dross just does not compare. The characterisations just are not funny. Proof again that I.T.V. just couldn't do comedy! Other than Rising Damp perhaps. Avoid,unless you are brain dead, very lonely or think that the height of sophistication is drinking Special Brew lager out of a can with a curly straw.
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1/10
Never seen this before
missraziel24 January 2019
And I wish I never had, it's boring, lame and uninteresting, just had me falling asleep within the first 5 mins! Terrible next to other shows of the time.
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