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Films: O is for...

On the Buses

It always amazes us that this programme could still be responsible for so many cultural reference points, since the show itself was always diabolical. Yet strangulated cries of “I ‘ate you Butler!” can still be heard regularly (if you listen in the right places) in public and looking like ‘Olive from On The Buses’ is still a rather cutting insult in many parts – most particularly a pub where some of us used to work. And in fact, aside from some generic randiness from the one with the Stonehenge gob and the supposedly hilarious sight of a man far too old to be riding a motorbike riding a motorbike, that’s pretty much all the show consisted of. Oh, but the film’s actually better than the series. We suggest you watch it whilst clutching a goblet of brown ale just to heighten your level of participation. One of the discontinued Truman’s varieties should suffice.



  1. Richard Davies

    December 13, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    The OTB films are helped by the higher budgets that provided more exterior scenes than the TV episode normally had.

    Olive’s attempts at being the depot cook (I couldn’t get the fat hot enough!) & Arthur’s bike loosing it’s sidecar (with Olive inside!) stand up to repeated viewings.

  2. Bullikins

    December 20, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    I’ve noticed the three On The Buses films are running consecutively on Christmas Day on ITV3. The Radio Times, in a tradition as age-old as St NIck himself, awards each a measly one star. Myself, I’d give em five stars apiece, show them on prime time BBC 1 and substitute the Queen’s speech with the clip of Little Arthur having a dump in Arthur’s cap.

  3. Glenn A

    November 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    I think I’ll pay 20 new pence to watch this at the local ABC, larf my head off and sink a few pints of Courage afterwards. So of its time, the early seventies films and the fleapits they were shown in still have a huge appeal to me.

  4. Glenn Aylett

    September 25, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    My first introduction to Stan Butler and friends, it was premiered on Border one Bank Holiday Monday in 1976, and to an eight year old, a bus reversing on a motorway and a kitchen being wrecked by an ugly lady was hilarious. Got older and saw Mutiny on Border when I was off school sick in 1982 and started to appreciate characters like Nymphy Norah and Stan’s escapades on the top deck of the bus. All three Buses films have been firm favourites of mine since.

  5. Droogie

    September 25, 2023 at 5:45 am

    There’s an excruciating clip of all the original cast reuniting on Wogan in the mid 80’s. Wogan is under the impression the show is returning to TV , but slowly reallises Reg Varney has arranged the reunion in the desperate hope it might raise interest in a new series and get them all work again. Suffice to say this never happened , and I only recall seeing Stephen Lewis occasionally appear on telly again.

  6. Richardpd

    September 25, 2023 at 10:17 pm

    Michael Robbins was in things up to his death in the early 1990s, especially two in One Foot In The Grave.

  7. Glenn Aylett

    September 26, 2023 at 3:15 pm

    The big tragedy of On The Buses was Bob Grant, who played the lecherous conductor Jack. He thought being in such a popular sitcom would make him rich and famous for the rest of his life, but he struggled to find work after OTB finished and had a battle with depression for the rest of his life that would eventually lead to Grant’s suicide in 2003.

  8. Droogie

    September 27, 2023 at 12:00 am

    If you watch the Wogan reunion clip, Bob Grant is noticeably speaking in a much posher voice ( possibly in the hope of convincing anyone watching he’s a proper actor with range and available for work.) it didn’t help that his character Stan was incredibly unlikeable, despite supposedly being a charming wag Poor Michael Robbins looks desperately unwell on the Wogan show too. I always felt the most sorry fir him as he seemed to have the best acting chops of all the OTB cast.

  9. Glenn Aylett

    September 29, 2023 at 1:34 pm

    Bob Grant was privately educated and was well spoken in real life. Problem was everyone thought of him as the leering lazy bus conductor from On The Buses and he struggled to find work after the show finished. Reg Varney seemed to do better with a one man show that toured Australia and managed to negotiate a decent deal on repeat fees for On The Buses. I do remember seeing Varney shortly before he died on a programme celebrating 50 years of ITV, where he turned up in a London bus at an On The Buses fan convention, and was full of praise for the show.

  10. Richardpd

    September 30, 2023 at 12:02 pm

    Reg Varney seemed to have steady work for many years after the series finished, but later had a few health issues that limited the amount he could work. He was also an artist of some note, having a few oil paintings exhibited over the years.

  11. Glenn Aylett

    September 30, 2023 at 9:00 pm

    Stephen Lewis did OK as well having a spin off series called Don’t Drink The Water, where Blakey moved to Spain, and as he wrote some of the OTB scripts, he enjoyed bigger royalties from repeats. Also he enjoyed opening supermarkets in character long after OTB finished and opened a local supermarket in 1980. From all accounts a nice man and always pleased to talk to fans.

  12. Richardpd

    September 30, 2023 at 10:12 pm

    Stephen Lewis also was the semi-regular character Smiler in Last Of The Summer Wine for many years.

    He was opposite of Reg Varney in OTB being fairly young when it started but made up to look older.

  13. Glenn Aylett

    October 1, 2023 at 4:49 pm

    Stephen Lewis was also given the Hitler style moustache to make Blakey look like a little Hitler and his hair was made greyer. The whole sitcom, except the last episodes where some of the regulars were missing, was great fun and the films still make me laugh now. OTB is still repeated as unlike Love Thy Neighbour, there is no racism to worry modern television audiences and it’s really about two lazy men trying to get one over their bosses and also trying to win over much younger women.

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