Friday, September 10, 2010
The Last Bus – 10 Oct 1968
Robin says this is his very first speaking part, which places it before “If….” Amazingly, I found it on YouTube! I knew beforehand it was something about “bus violence put out by the BBC for the schools" so I was assuming it was something about bullying on a schoolbus with Robin playing a character similar to what he played in “The Double Deckers”. But no. This interesting little half hour black and white dramatization takes a look at a late night double decker London bus with a few passengers on it, on their way home. On comes a group of 4 longhaired troublemaking youths, the leader of whom is Robin, playing “Robbo”. Another of them I noticed at the end was named Arthur Wild – could that be the brother of my beloved H.R. Pufnstuf’s Jack Wild???
The bus conductor comes around to take their fare. Funny how this is done! You don’t have to pay when you get on? The conductor walks around and asks where you’re going and lets you know the price! Seems like a big confusing hassle if there are a lot of people! Robin and his gang start giving him a hard time and don’t want to pay the full fare. Lighthearted arguing soon turn into angry accusations and racial insults (the conductor is Irish, the driver is black). The boys angrily leave the bus. But at the last moment grab the conductor and beat him up. The people on the bus sit in shocked silence, no one daring to go help out. The scene ends there and we are shown a man who talks to us a bit about what we have just seen. Then he starts to “interview” some of the characters from the film – ask them why they did nothing to help the bus conductor. Fascinating to hear their explanations and rationalizations. One older lady brings up a lot of issues you hear about today in America! And probably in Britain too. How she doesn’t know why, with all society does for underprivileged kids like these (free schooling, public housing, job training, etc) they still run around getting into trouble. I felt the interviewer’s comments back to her were a bit harsh, as she did have a point! What else is society to do about problem youths? Sheesh. The other people talked about fear for their own safety and worry for their families if something happened to them. They had a point too, and I’m sure most people could relate. How could the interviewer really expect these riders to go up against 4 strong violent young men? I suppose the 3 men on the bus could’ve gone out as a group but honestly, the older lady and the young girl would’ve been helpless (because, as you know from a lot of Robin's movies, all girls are good for is standing around and screaming a lot! ;-) )
I see the point the show was trying to make – how we should be involved and help each other but it would’ve made more sense to have put a few more people – stronger people! – on there.
Also, the “gang of toughs” looked more like a clean-cut mod pop group that a gang of serious street thugs that would act this way. It was hard to watch Robin be so mean and violent, he just doesn’t look like he SHOULD be! Was bus violence really a big problem back in 1967 London? I have to laugh just a little bit about this premise, me, who had to endure riding packed L.A. city buses full of gang members cursing, spitting, throwing things, carving graffiti into the seats and blasting rap music on my way to and from my private high school as a teen – as it went by the public high school on its way there. “Public school” has a WHOLE OTHER MEANING here in the US than it does in Britain! Give me a busload of troublemaking young Robin Askwiths any day!
As a sequel to this there was:
Sentence of the Court – 17 Oct 1968
But I can’t find it, so I’ll just give you this:
From the BFI website: “A sequel to 'LAST BUS', this semi-dramatised documentary looks at what the subsequent history might have been of the boys in the gang that attacked the conductor in Last Bus, what might have caused the boys to behave in the way they did, and what the nature of their punishment will be.”
Anyone have it? Could you YouTube it for me? Please?
Cool page I found which tells all about these shows: www.broadcastforschools.co.uk
And here's the YouTube of "Last Bus" - I meant to come back and put it on then just forgot about it, sorry!