Firstly, apologies. I’ve been so busy with Big Brother and The X Factor that I haven’t had time to update my blog. However, you’ve all been perusing and leaving comments – so cheers for that. It’s nice to see.
So one night, there I was surfing (as you do), when I came across a surprising find: On The Buses, now on the Men & Motors channel. Imagine my shock when I found myself laughing. Cheap, vulgar and misogynistic it may have been, with an over-reliance on saucy seaside postcard humour, but in these politically correct noughties days, it can boast making me laugh a couple of times. And that’s no mean feat. Unlike the classic Steptoe And Son ("’Arrrrold!" "You dir….ty old man!"), it has dated horribly. It was aging even as it was broadcast during its original run from 1969-1973 – and yet, I found it all oddly endearing. Double decker buses! Glass milk bottles! Half pence coins! Smoking!
Besides, how could anyone dislike bus driver Stan Butler (played by the 50ish Reg Varney)? Stan is characterised by his horniness: desperate for the mini-skirted, busty, nubile women working in the depot (who always fancy him), it’s not unusual to find him clocking off and keeping the passengers waiting while he has a bit of ‘ow’s yer father’ with the chosen wench. The series made Reg Varney an unlikely sex symbol – only in this country could a man like Reg become an object of desire. Makes yer proud to be British, doesn’t it?
Stan’s best mate is his conductor, a right jack-the-lad called Jack with a hugely infectious laugh who says "Cor blimey" more times than Jodie Marsh has been Tangoed (has anyone ever seen her natural skin colour?). Our horny bus driver lives with his bingo-obsessed mum who loves him to death. In the same house resides plain sister Olive and her layabout, sponging husband Ar’fur. One character who must be mentioned is long-suffering bus Inspector ‘Blakey’ Blake; Stan and Jack delighted in making his life a misery, prompting weekly lip-quivering exclamations of "I’ll get you Butler!" and "I ‘ate you, Butler!"
I think the very absurdity of On The Buses is what tickled me the most: two middle-aged skirt-chasers (one with teeth Austin Powers would envy). Poor Olive, frequently slated by bitter, lazy husband Ar’fur. Mum, who feeds her son more stodge than yer average foie gras farmer gets into a goose (she wants her son married, but thinks nobody’s good enough for him). The female conquests – who are either blind, or newly-released from prison. And finally, Blakey. Poor Blakey. Was there ever a more pathetic authority figure?
To put this daft programme into even starker perspective, it’s as well to remember that it was around at the very same time as Monty Python’s Flying Circus. And just a couple of years after the bus roared into the depot for the last time, John Cleese would go on to Fawlty Towers. But still, it got me chuckling which is more than I can say for the likes of ‘Orrible, My Family, Dinner Ladies, Grown Ups, My Hero, Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps etc
Today I am mostly lovin’ – BBC Four for repeating Spike Lee’s searing documentary When The Levees Broke. Quality, quality television.
Today I am mostly hatin’ – Everybody Hates Chris. Not the show – but that bloody Footloose promo! Flippin’ ‘eck Tucker! Hasn’t the Paramount Comedy Channel got any staff these days? Change the bloody promo!
MSN Editor Coops