Saturday, 25 June 2011

Whatever Happened to the "On the Buses" Cast?


Further to my recent article outlining the life and times of British comedy icon, Reg Varney (link above), I have found some fascinating footage  of the cast from On The Buses, being interviewed by Terry Wogan on his BBC TV show in 1990.


It does beg the question as to whatever became of the actors whose antics used to make us laugh every week?

Reg Varney (as Stan Butler) - is covered in the article linked above.

Doris Hare (as Stan’s Mum) - Welsh actress Doris passed away in May 2000 at the grand age of 95. 

She was at one stage, offered the role of Ena Sharples (later to be made famous by Violet Carson) in the long running Granada TV soap, Coronation Street

It is generally forgotten that Doris was not the original actress to play the role of Mum. Australian born, Dame Cicely Courtneidge, played the part in the first (black and white) series in 1969.

Bob Grant (as Jack the conductor) - Three times married, Bob suffered from severe depression in later years. He tried to commit suicide on 3 known occasions. Firstly in 1987 and 1995 before being found dead in 2003 slumped over the wheel of a car filled with exhaust fumes. It is noticeable in the interview how much different Bob sounded to the character he played


Anna Karen (as Stan’s sister, Olive) – South African born Anna actually worked as a striptease dancer at London’s Panama Club in her younger days. 

Later to pop up occasionally as Aunt Sal in the BBC’s soap Eastenders, Anna, now 75, lives in Essex and still teaches drama at a Hornchurch theatrical school.

Michael Robbins (as Stan’s Brother-in-Law, Arthur) – Formerly a bank clerk, he started working as an actor, after appearing in amateur dramatic productions in the Hitchin, Hertfordshire area, north of London. 

He was to be seen in many British TV dramas and comedies during the 1960’s and 70’s, such as Minder, Z-Cars and Doctor Who. He died from cancer in 1992 at the age of 62.


Trivia Question : Do you remember Arthur and Olive's surname from the series? (Answer at the foot of the posting)

Stephen Lewis (as the Inspector, Blakey) – Born Stephen Cato, he began his working life as a merchant seaman, but left to pursue a theatrical career in his early twenties.. 

He and Bob Grant wrote a number of the later episodes and in fact the character of Blakey, played by Lewis, went on to become the main character in the last series of the sitcom, when Reg Varney left. 

Lewis went on to star in an "On The Buses " spin-off entitled Don't Drink the Water, where he and his sister (played by Pat Coombs) went to live in Spain. 

He appeared in many British comedy shows after the end of “On the Buses”, noteably in Oh Doctor Beeching, The Foster’s and  famously as Smiler Hemmingway in Last of the Summer Wine. He also had a part in the 1990 biopic of "The Krays"

It was announced today that Stephen Lewis had passed away (13th August 2015). According to the BBC report (available by clicking HERE) he was 88. RIP Stephen.

It leaves Anna Karen as the only surviving member of the cast,


During the interview, it is mentioned that there were plans to re-unite the cast in a new TV series. The idea was never taken up by London Weekend TV however.

What are your memories of On The Buses? Did you know or ever meet any of the cast members?

35 comments:

  1. Fantastic footage!!! i watched it as a child and loved it,it always made mw laugh,i still watch the re-runs now.Its such a shame that most of the good actors/actresses have now died.

    JASON.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Couldnt agree more Jason, very sad, they dont seem to produce actors / actresses with the same natural ability these days

      Delete
  2. I love this show. I am 19 at the momment and just happened to watch this how on the tele ITV and loved it. I have watched all the series. I just wonder all this good show and only 3 yrs production.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My son (16 ) and myself (67) enjoy all the funny comedies at brekkie ,and t time,either on the busses or fawlty towers,and robins nest,george and mildred etc ,bur I was just curious tonight about Richard O Sullivan,and was a bit suprised to see that he is older than me , an on a bit of a downer, I am sorry , If yo read this Richard , big thanks m8 !

    ReplyDelete
  4. I WAS IN MY TEENS, WHEN I STARTED WATCHING ON THE BUSES. LOVED IT. I WATCHED EVERY SERIES, PLUS THE FILM SPIN OFFS TOO. MY CHILDREN LOVED THE FILMS, WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG. NOW THEY ARE IN THEIR 29 AND 34, AND WE ARE WATCHING THEM ALL AGAIN. I ALSO LOVED MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE, RICHARD O SULLIVAN WAS GREAT YAY LOVE U RICHARD XXXX

    ReplyDelete
  5. I adore this show, I love all the classics growing up with them Only Fools And Horses, Fawlty Towers et al. I am fortunate enough to have them all and watch them all the time. All the DVD'S safely put away as with all my stuff and backed up to my media drive and my cloud account for safety sakes. I'd hate to have to spend hours backing them all up again. And now I have the joys of sharing these quality comedies with my boys 8 and 11. Funny that when I was 9 I didn't like Fawlty Towers whilst being forced to watch it on the coach on the way to Spain. Now definitely one of my firm favourites with my boys they laugh so loud at it. My youngest loves the signs being changed at the beginning of the show. We watch new stuff like How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory but, we always go back to watching the old classics together. They don't make shows like they used to. I sound like my dearly departed grandparents did when I was young and I'm only 32 hahaha. Thanks for a great article and the footage. Very much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  6. my last name is butler so I got teased at school lol

    ReplyDelete
  7. In 1988, here was a stage play of On The Buses, performed in Victoria and Vancouver with Mum, Olive, and Arthur. It turns out that Olive was the daughter of a Canadian solider stationed in England during the war!

    ReplyDelete
  8. In 1988, there was a stage production of Buses, staged in Victoria and then Vancouver, with Mum, Olive, and Arthur. In this production, it turns out that Olive's father was a Canadian solider serving in England during the war!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Loved on the buses as my dad was a bus driver and sometimes went to work with him when I was a young lad, it was a great community. .I was also just by chance at the holiday camp in North Wales when it was filmed in 74...great days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Long gone ,they were good days , loved watching this as a kid with my great , dad ,,,

      Delete
  10. Arthur and olives surname is rudge
    love this comedy started watching on the buses a couple of years ago after the first time i watched it i just had to get the boxset of it can't get enough of it

    ReplyDelete
  11. lets have fun and bring all the old stuff back.xxxxx

    ReplyDelete
  12. Love all the old stuff, on the buses george & mildred, open all hours. I could watch them all day! They don't make them like that any more. Can't really remember them as a child but was born in 1981.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think its fantastic I still watch the re runs on tv at the moment I also loved the films what great actors all of them and you never no who might pop up in one of the re runs

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm 29 and I absolutely love ON THE BUSES , great show, it definitely deserves a place up the top with all the best British sitcoms, like ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES, PORRIDGE, OPEN ALL HOURS and FAWLTY TOWERS. ( just had to fit all my faves in, lol.)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great show, I'm 29 and I absolutely love on the buses.! ( my grandad is a bus driver and I remember his red number badge from years ago like 'stans) ,It definitely deserves a place as one of the best British sitcoms alongsdie only fools and horses and porridge and such. They don't make sitcoms now like they did then, no character and witty one liners. The inbetweeners was good but it still lacked the Raw and simple sense of humour as the sitcom's I've mentioned above

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great show...Great cast.A pity they didn't do 30 or more episodes a season, then we would have had a lot more hilarious antics to enjoy! Any way you look at it, this is a truly Classic Comedy Series! It's sad that most of our beloved cast members are now gone,but they live on in this show and we'll never forget them, as we watch all the episodes over again and again with smiles on our faces and laughter in our hearts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love watching the old sit coms like George and Mildred, Rising Damp. Man about the House and On The Buses. They certainly don't make the sit coms as good these days. Wish they would do a remake though of On The Buses and i could see someone like Bradley Walsh playing the role of Stan. Even though Stepen Lewis is 75, he is one and only Blakey. Come on ITV, lets do it!

      Delete
  17. to bad it had to end

    ReplyDelete
  18. loved them all, and still watch them.

    ReplyDelete
  19. It was horrible sexist rubbish! I was 10 or 11 when I used to watch this. The character of Olive was there solely to have fun poked at her for being an unnatractive woman. Even at that age I found this disturbing. We were supposed to accept that it was reasonable for her husband to spend part of every episode trying to avoid having sex with her! The men, on the other hand, were crude, ugly and unfunny but it was apparently fine that they should spend every episode trying to get their "leg over" brainless, much younger "dolly-birds." The really infuriating thing was that, most weeks, ferret-faced Jack succeeded. Were we watching the same programme, here? I'm no prude, I have a wicked sense of humour and it takes a lot to offend me but this - as I remember it - was utterly foul!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Get a life you pathitic person...on the buses was some of the best British comedy in the 60s and 70s and still is...
      Sounds like your a last of the summer wine person have you got your pipe and slippers ready....
      People like you want to make me have the runs.....

      Delete
    2. If you hated the show sooooooooooooo much, why exactly did you bother watching it week after week? You talk as if you had no choice. Do you make a habit of doing things you don't like and then complaining about it? I wouldn't be quite so quick to feel superior if I were you. I happen to have the OTB boxset, and I thoroughly enjoy it - episode after episode. :)

      Delete
    3. So you were disturded ,,poor bed wetter ,get a life ,,it was a great show ,,with great years the 70

      Delete
    4. Bought the complete box set and still have VHS tapes of the 3 Spin off films. You sound like one of the irritating PC brigade with your criticisms. Jack and Stan's flings with much
      younger 'clippies' was a little far fetched but comedies and jokes are not meant to be taken seriously, as dear old Bernard Manning used to say.

      Delete
  20. Who cares what you think Betty it was the way it was back then times have changed I bet you still don't like it today

    ReplyDelete
  21. Yes fair play Paul tubero...A man who knows good British comedy....This Betty person is talking absolute nonsense.....I thought Mary Whitehouse was dead.......

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thank you 'Uncle' for such an interesting artile. I remember watching On The Buses as a child & now me & my hubby enjoy wathing the reruns on Gold. They still make us huckle.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Am 34 and I started watching on the buses with dad and I absolutely love it I recently bought the complete box set n watch it regularly

    ReplyDelete
  24. I'm 52 and still watch all the ones repeated such a great show as was the others in that time so sad they can't make our soaps as funny instead of doom an gloom nice article

    ReplyDelete
  25. I v read somewhere but don't know how old the story is that Bob and vic where thinking of a reboot of on the busses they would have to treat it right I love the show grew up with on the busses

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi - thanks for your comment. I hadn't heard this but after some investigation I found this article in the Sun. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/3778108/Vic-Bob-are-going-On-The-Buses.html
      The idea is for Vic to play Jack and Bob as Stan. They also want Paul Whitehouse to play Blakey. What are everyone's thoughts on that?

      Delete
  26. I was only a child when this first aired but even then I was hugely confused why a clearly middle aged man with a dated 50's haircut and his frankly grotesque horse faced mate managed to attract so much female attention.

    Watching the repeats now makes me squirm with discomfort.

    The one saving grace of this monstrosity was Stephen Lewis/Blakey perhaps one of the greatest comedy performances ever.

    ReplyDelete
  27. @Mike Godfrey

    My GOD never know about Vic and Bob considering this, that would have been 'interesting'

    I know Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse did a parody some years ago (on Youtube I believe)

    ReplyDelete