Televised from 1969 to 1973, On the Buses was a popular British sitcom that was shown on London Weekend Television.
Set in the fictional town of Luxton in Essex, it focused on the lives of workers at a bus depot and their families. Although the series gained negative reviews from critics, it was well received by audiences.
Bus driver Stan (played by Reg Varney) is one of the main characters of the show. He lives up to his Jack-the-lad reputation by chatting up the female workers at the depot. Stan’s mother Mabel, sister Olive and brother-in-law Arthur also feature in the programme.
Stan works alongside conductor Jack, who as well as being his colleague is also his best pal and neighbour. The comical interactions between the pair are a highlight of the show and their mischievous nature sees them getting up to all sorts of tricks, from turning diversion road signs the wrong way, to fiddling with the radio controls or just trying to woo the ladies.
Inspector Blake devotes a lot of his time attempting to get Stan and Jack into trouble. In a comical twist, many of Blakey’s schemes backfire, causing himself extra bother and often resulting in him coming to blows with the General Manager.
On the Buses ran for seven series, with a total of 74 episodes, and there are several standout scenes that viewers recall over the four years that it appeared on the television screen.
In ‘Foggy Night’, bad weather causes Stan to abort the bus journey, which sees a cow boarding the bus and Inspector Blake ending up in a ditch.
‘Canteen Trouble’ is another popular episode that involves Inspector Blake replacing the canteen lady, after he discovers she has been giving Stan and Jack extra portions of food. When the new dinner lady proves to be a handful, Blakey decides the easiest option is to install a food vending machine instead.
In ‘Brew It Yourself’, Stan’s home-brew beer proves to be much stronger than he’d anticipated – he turns up to work somewhat inebriated. Although Inspector Blake has rumbled him and makes him take a breathalyser test, Jack intercepts the test so that the results come back as negative. Stan is sent home ill, and is subsequently greeted by family members who are also feeling the effects of the home-brew.
Following on from the success of On the Buses, three spin-off films were released in the early 1970s, entitled On the Buses, Mutiny on the Buses and Holiday on the Buses. The film of the same title as the series was ranked as Britain’s top box office film of 1971.
On the Buses was also adapted for the stage, and two five-minute Christmas specials were released. A revival of the series, Back on the Buses, was talked about in 1990, although it never got off the ground.
Now, anyone who has watched the sitcom will know that anything can happen on one of Stan’s bus journeys. If you don’t fancy taking your chances on public transport, why not get behind the wheel yourself and hire a minibus for your road trip? You’ll find a wide choice of high quality and affordable options at H&H Van Hire.