On The Buses (ITV, 1969-1973)
This is one of the few sitcoms from the early-70s that I familiar with. It was also one of the rowdiest of its era, along with also being rather lowbrow, but this was rather popular viewers, if not the critics. I have already said about how I saw On The Buses on TV for the first time. When 6 O’Clock Live came to an end in the summer of 1992, LWT filled the slot before the launch of London Tonight in 1993 with various shows, including repeats of some episodes.
This seemed to be a rather curious choice because they were about two decades old even by this point (and I think an episode or two had been repeated as part of LWT’s 21st anniversary in 1989 too). On The Buses was originally written by Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney, who were the other Two Ronnies that worked in comedy. The main character was Stan, played by Reg Varney, who had a rather long career.
He was something of a cheeky chappy, and along with his mate Jack, they spent a lot of time working on double-decker buses. His home life is rather more chaotic though. He lives with his mother, along with his sister Olive, and her husband Arthur, and it is rather clear that their marriage is not a happy one. And this leads to all kinds of bickering. The other main character was Inspector Blake, who was always being given trouble by Stan and Jack.
On The Buses was a success to the point that there were not one, not two, but three film versions, along with seven series packed into only four years. There were some changes by the end though. Arthur had walked out on Olive, and Stan left to work in the midlands. This meant that for the final episodes, Blakey became the main character, moving into Stan’s house. After this, Blakey returned in the sequel sitcom Don’t Drink The Water, which I haven’t seen myself, but it seems that I haven’t missed much.
There was also an American version called Lotsa Luck, that was on NBC for one series in the mid-70s, but this wasn’t a success, and has never been shown in this country. There was even some talk in the early-90s of a revival, but this didn’t happen. And along with the repeats on LWT in 1992, there have also been a huge amount on ITV3, which continue right to this day.
All of the episodes have been released on DVD as well. For many years the familiar theme music has been used to introduce Clips Of The Week with Hawksbee And Jacobs on TalkSport (which are sometimes rather amusing), and in sketch show Harry And Paul, there was a rather bizarre take on the Stan and Jack characters, although this proved how familiar they still seemed to be all these years on.