Tuesday, November 16, 2010
ITV's long-running (at least, in British terms) sitcom On the Buses - shown here in memory of its star Reg Varney, who died on this day in 2008 at the age of 92 - was initially pitched to the BBC by its writers, Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney. The Beeb passed, giving ITV's London Weekend Television the chance to snatch up the property, from which 74 episodes were made in all. While the show was a critical flop, it was hugely popular with viewers - and not just in the UK either, but in Canada, Australia, and in the US.
Varney played bus driver Stan Butler, saddled with an obnoxious family and a job at a bus depot in the fictional London borough of Luxton made even more frustrating by an overbearing boss. Stan's mum was played in its first series by Cicely Courtneidge (and later, as here, by Doris Hare), his sister Olive by Anna Karen, and his brother-in-law Arthur by noted character actor Michael Robbins; at work, 'our Stan' traded quips with best friend and bus conductor Jack Harper (Bob Grant) and barbs with Inspector Cyril 'Blakey' Blake (Stephen Lewis).
This particular episode first aired on March 12th, 1972, as part of the show's sixth series; currently, the whole kit and kaboodle - all seven series! - are all available in a lavish DVD box set.
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