Sunday, 21 February 2010


It's Sunday afternoon again and with an iron in one hand and tv remote in the other, it pained me to see ITV1 scheduling 'Holiday on the Buses' as afternoon tv viewing. This was a film version of the popular tv programme 'On the Buses' from the 1970's. For those lucky enough to born after the 70's, thank your lucky stars that you weren't subjected to such puerile nonsense the first time round.

Here's the plot.. Stan (played by Reg Varney) plays a bus driver and his mate Jack plays a bus ticket collector. They're both randy, jack the lads who try to 'pull birds' usually unsuccessfully. Stan and Jack are pitched against Blakey, the bus company inspector who sports a Hitler-style moustache and is usually at the receiving end of Stan and Jack's escapades. He generally ends up covered in paint or having a large red bus run over his foot and him shouting 'eeee.. I'll have you Butler'. Stan lives at home with his mum and Olive his sister (who's overweight, wears thick glasses and is desperate to resume a sex life within her marriage) and brother-in-law Arthur (who pours scorn on his wife and avoids sex with her at all costs).

Holiday on the Buses sees our unlikely middle-aged lotharios (looking like leering 50 year olds) working summer season at a Pontins holiday camp. The film captures Stan and Jack working on mystery tour bus, with their bus caps perched jauntily on their heads, fag in mouth, and looking at the various provocatively-dressed 'birds' getting on their bus and saying quips like 'Corrr, blimey. Look at the bristols on that. There's more than 3 helpings there plus extra custard naaa-hhhhh'.

It was bad in the 70's, but is just plain wrong in 2010. It's bawdy, seaside postcard 'fun', dripped in innuendo and nudge-nudge wink-wink 'humour'. It's of its kind and of its day joining Carry On films, Benny Hill, Love Thy Neighbour, George and Mildred, amongst many others. At the risk of sounding like a card-carrying feminist, what's so galling about On The Buses and the like, is the way women are so negatively portrayed. The female characters in these programmes generally fitted into three categories...

The dollybird - short skirt, boots, cleavage on show, blonde and not very bright. Pursued relentlessly and without much success by the male characters for a bit of 'slap and tickle or how's your father'. (see any character played by Barbara Windsor, Sally Thomsett in Man About the House)
The old battleaxe / harridan - stern, shouting, severely dressed and the scourge of the male lead character (Peggy Mount, the headmistress in Please Sir, Hattie Jacques in Carry On Nurse)
The sex-starved, desperate, middle-aged, unattractive woman (Olive in On The Buses, Joan Simms or Patsy Rowlands in Carry On, Miss Jones in Rising Damp).

Did I watch Holiday On The Buses. No - I got off at the first stop and watched a dvd box set of Frasier instead. On the Buses and programmes of that ilk are nostalgic yes, but don't have a place on the tv screen at Fishfingerbutty Towers. Back to ironing my feminist dungarees and laughing to myself at that sweeping generalisation.....


  1. Whats wrong with holiday on the buses?

    I too saw on the buses this morning and found it a great laugh and a change from the usual cheesy family films shown by ITV 1 that everyone has seen a milion times.

    Being a 14 year old lad, on the buses has great humour to me. Its a film that wont be enjoyed by everyone because it requires a daft sense of humour which I have.
    It may be old and slightly cheesy, but the cast and script lines are very funny and true.
    Marc Leonard

  2. Hi birthday boy - thanks for checking in and for your comments. Glad you enjoyed the film and like you say, it's appeal and humour is probably more suited to 14 year old boys perhaps because it was written by one! And it definitely helps if you have a daft sense of humour (I wonder where you get that from?) xx

  3. Guess what, only on the buses was shown again today. This time mutiny on the buses. Still the best type of comedy films. Got them taped and goin 2 watch them over again.

    After a dodgy weekend, finally something to put a smile back on my face, you have to be a bloke to appreciate good films like this. But isn't programmes like Desperate Houswives which are watched by 90% women arn't these latterday similarities. What with take me out, Ladette to Lady, Loose women, oh how the tables have turned. You'll be wanting women dart players next.

  4. Hi Mark. Well, it's a good job we're not all the same. I would never describe On the Buses as a comedy. Tragedy yes, but comedy is stretching it. I can't say I've ever watched Desperate Housewives, Sex in the City, Ugly Betty etc etc. so hard to comment on whether the tables have turned or not. I think the fact that women are no longer portrayed as blonde numbskulls only fit for a bit of 'how's your father' with some leering middle aged gargoyle is a step in the right direction!