The much-maligned ‘difficult middle film’ of the On The Buses trilogy takes the Butler family out of their usual surroundings and exchanges the bus depot and Mum’s front parlour for the luxury and exhilaration of the knees-up atmosphere of a holiday camp in Wales (it was filmed at Pontins holiday camp in Prestatyn).
Mum, Olive and Arthur are there on holiday but Stan and Jack – having been sacked from the depot – are working there, operating the camp’s open-top bus. But they haven’t got away from Blakey – he is the camp’s security inspector!
It’s actually less than two minutes before we get our first dollop of sexism – a woman running for the bus finds her breasts fall out of her dress for no reason whatsoever.
Still, it does at least make Stan laugh – but then what doesn’t? He and Jack spend the entire movie laughing uproariously with little or no provocation. You get the impression that they’d wet themselves watching paint dry.
The plot sees Stan lusting after a young girl, but being continually thwarted by her domineering mother.
It’s a “recipe for hilarity” (sic) and whether it’s on a storm-lashed boat or the swimming baths, Stan and Mavis’s exploits always produce the same result.
Later conquests include Maria, an Italian stereotype, and a staff co-worker. Even Stan’s mum gets a one-night stand, with Stan considerately reminding her to “put your tin drawers on.”
When one of the comic “highpoints” is Arthur Mullard overhearing Olive trying to locate a light switch in the dark (“I can’t find it”) and thinking she’s talking about sex, you can see why this work reaches the upper levels of literary sophistication.
New comedy characters were introduced for the film – among them Kate Williams (from Love Thy Neighbour) and Wilfrid Brambell (Steptoe & Son). All the series regulars are present, and if you enjoyed the TV series you’ll love the film. If not, you’d better wait for the next bus!
Inspector Cyril ‘Blakey’ Blake
Mrs Mabel Butler