Monday, 29 April 2013

Stan Butler
It's interesting that, although you can easily miss the short runs of genuinely worthwhile repeats on ITV3, it's almost impossible to avoid On The Buses. This has been the case for several years now. (Unless you have the strength of character not to watch ITV3, obviously. But come on.)

I won't insult you by suggesting that you don't know the bare bones of the set-up at the Luxton and District Bus Company between 1969 and 1973, but in case it's slipped your mind, the key personnel are Stan the bus driver, Jack the conductor, Blakey the Inspector and Olive, Stan's sister-in-law. One is a cocky yet sensitive everyman, one is a priapic, snaggle-toothed heart-throb, one is a put-upon jobsworth, and one is a vilified, sullen laughing-stock. Hilarious. I honestly don't think I'm addicted, or anything like that.

It's a very bad programme: lazily performed, barely rehearsed, repetitive, deeply boring. The writers can't seem to help returning to the same few feeble devices over and over again. These are chiefly: the pursuit of smashing, randy birds; the pointless outwitting of the management for no clear reason; the evasion of hard work in favour of smoking; and the overcrowding and chronic money worries of the Butler household, which lead to a lot of sexual frustration and domestic strife.

There is also a strange, perhaps unconscious, fixation about playing with food. Stan often finds himself in situations which require him to conceal sausages in the breast pocket of his bus driver's jacket, stick oysters and fried eggs down his trousers, or hold several extremely hot potatoes in his mouth for comical reasons.

The other thing is the relentless, torrential use of the word blimey. Naturally, you would expect working-class ladies and gentleman in a 1970s sitcom to do plenty of mild swearing, but the blimeying in On The Buses surpasses all normal usage. It exceeds anything that might punctuate the dialogue to help comic timing. It's just incontinent. Once you notice it, you can't focus on any of the other totally crap factors at play - all you can do is prepare to flinch in the face of the next blimey.

Am I making myself clear? Well, this is what a typical episode, The Lodger, sounds like if you remove all the dialogue except the blimeys:

No comments:

Post a Comment