The characters in ON THE BUSES were cast brilliantly; there was Stephen Lewis as Blakey with all that is officialdom and pompousness in an authority figure, but always being brought back down to earth by Stan and Jack. Blakey would have a catch phrase that would sweep the nation with his "I hate you Butler"
Blakey is a classic character of TV and of the bus industry, the Captain Manering (Dads Army) of his day.
Reg Varney as Stan Butler was the cheeky chappie who had his heart in the right place, looking after his family and loyal to his mates. Especially Jack as played by Bob Grant, Jack was the man about town, the ducker and diver but also a ladies man. Then of course there was Mum, the one that held the family together even when Stan tried to break away.
Then you have Olive and Arthur that couple of happily married bliss that could keep a relate bureau busy for months. Olive was always seeing the best in everything even her husband Arthur. He was the opinionated and not to hard working man and thought himself a little less common than the family he married into.
Thanks to the writing talents of Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney, you cared about what happened to the characters and laughed along with them at the antics they got up to. Sharing in the fun and feeling as though the Butler Clan could have easily been the family from next door to were you lived.
All the ingredients blended together to create something that was to strike a cord with viewing public.
It was about working class people who were proud to be working class, trying to get by one day at a time, just like many others of that era. It was a show that was to reflect the times and a programme the whole family could watch together... Viewers tuning in weekly to see what antics the crew would get up to. When the theme music started you knew you could sit back relax and have a laugh with the crew of the number 11 bus. Add to that the buses, the clippies and the other birds what more could an adolescent teenager want in a TV show. So after the delight of watching some of the series it was to turn up on the big screen at cinemas and along with millions of others we flocked along to watch it, most traveling on a bus to reach the cinema. ON THE BUSES was the top box office movie in 1971 beating OO7 Diamonds Are Forever.
So successful was the movie that just like Buses 2 more would come along later. Mutiny ON THE BUSES and Holiday ON THE BUSES.
I think it will also be a piece of social history in years to come for others to look back on before the days Political Correctness went mad.
No violence no swearing no big budget special effects just good entertainment watching the antics of the Butler household made it the Big Brother of its day, only it was funnier. The show was exported to 38 countries around the world, after all the buses are something everyone can relate to.
It was so good that I began running the fan club and collecting memorabilia. I turned up at a bus event dressed as Blakey last year and the smiles and laughs I got was heart warming. It is still loved by many and deserves to be shown again so a whole new generation can enjoy it. After all we get re-runs of Dads Army, Are You Being Served, Steptoe and Son. In fact I bet the BBC wished they had never turned the project down, much to the delight of LWT. Critics hated it but power went to the passengers that were happy to be onboard for seven series and 3 feature films, not bad going for a sit-com.