A first big screen outing for the On The Buses team. The boys at the bus depot are horrified when their boss starts hiring women drivers. But getting rid of them proves tougher than expected. Prime ’70s slapstick in a film spinoff of the successful sitcom series starring Reg Varney, Bob Grant and Doris Hare.
Varney, plays Stan Butler, best mate of Jack (Bob Grant), both drivers at Luxton and District Traction Company. A shortage of staff has meant a lucrative rise in overtime opportunities for the pair. Stan is especially delighted since he has to provide for his mum (Doris Hare) and free-spending sister Olive (Anna Karen). So when hated boss Blakey (Stephen Lewis – looking like the bastard son of Bruce Forsyth and Adolph Hitler) decides to break company policy and bring in women drivers to make up the numbers, Stan and Jack scheme to oust the female competition.
Love it or loathe it, there’s no denying On the Buses’ place in the history of British pop culture. The LWT series (beginning in 1969) was huge, while this film was Hammer Studios‘ biggest ever money-spinner and spawned two sequels – Mutiny on the Buses (1972) and Holiday on the Buses (1973).
Anthropologically, it documents the drab small-mindedness of that vast proportion of the nation left out of the ’60s party and yet to be invigorated by Glam, colour TV and ’70s curtain designs. As an example of pre-PC farce, it takes some beating and is ripe for a resurgence in today’s climate of ironic nostalgia.
UK / 1971 / Hammer Films
Director: Harry Booth
Writer: Ronald Wolfe, Ronald Chesney
Cast: Reg Varney, Doris Hare, Michael Robbins, Anna Karen, Stephen Lewis, Bob Grant, Andrea Lawrence, Pat Ashton, Brian Oulton, Pamela Cundell, Pat Coombs, Wendy Richard