Buses, Blakey and Blokey Humour

Reg Varney and Bob Grant in On the Buses (1971)

Stan (Reg Varney) and Jack (Bob Grant) are a likely pair as they work on the London buses always trying to get away with something behind their boss, Blakey's (Stephen Lewis) back. And things are quite cushdie as whilst they are a bit of a work shy pair the shortage of bus drivers means that overtime is always available. It is a good thing for Stan as back home his mum (Doris Hare) and his sister Olive (Anna Karen) spend, spend, spend and Olive's husband Arthur (Michael Robbins) is tight with his money. But when an unwritten law is broken and the bus depot starts employing women drivers Stan & Jack need to sabotage things before it all goes too far.

Oh how times have changed, can you imagine "On the Buses" being made now either as a TV series or a movie with its working class set up and abundance of sexist humour which objectifies women. Nope and it has to be said that whilst you can't change the past when you watch "On the Buses", the 1971 spin-off movie, you can't but help cringe at the opening scenes which sees plenty of comedy around Stan and Jack trying it on with attractive women with even them stopping so Jack can get his leg over. Of course Stan and Jack being a pair of likely lads is part of what this movie and the TV series was built upon and more often than not at some point they end up being bested by various women.

Stephen Lewis in On the Buses (1971)

But whilst "On the Buses" starts in a now cringe worthy style and in fairness drops in as much sexual humour as you will find in a "Carry On" movie there is some other comedy in there. From Blakey always falling foul of Stan and Reg to the humour of Stan's home where he still lives with his mum, his sister and her work shy husband it has that working class vibe which I doubt a modern generation of movie fans would appreciate.

Despite its flaws "On the Buses" does feature a good cast and the timing between Reg Varney and Bob Grant was spot on and as good as any other comedy double act of the 70s. Plus they were always surrounded by great comedians with both Anna Karen and Stephen Lewis always providing big laughs with their over the top, quirky characters. It is a case that whilst Varney and Grant were the stars of "On the Buses" without Stephen Lewis as Blakey or Anna Karen as Olive it would never work.

What this all boils down to is that "On the Buses" is a relic of the British comedy past which whilst still amusing thanks to its working class humour and great timing of all its stars it is one of those comedies which certainly wouldn't get made now due to all the sexual comedy and sexism.

Tags: British TV Shows & Their Movies

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