In the swinging 60s, the world of British sitcoms was forever changed with the arrival of On The Buses. At the centre of this beloved comedy was the talented actor and comedian Bob Grant, whose portrayal of bus conductor Jack Harper won the hearts of millions. But behind the laughter and success lay a life that took a tragic turn once the sitcom ended.
Born on 14th April 1932 in Hammersmith, West London, Bob Grant’s journey to stardom began at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. While honing his acting skills, fate had a peculiar twist in store for him – he worked as a frozen food salesman and even as a bus driver in his spare time. Little did he know that these experiences would become intertwined with his fame.
Bob’s career took off with a bang, gracing the stage and screen with his talent. He impressed audiences with his roles in plays like The Good Soldier Schweik and the musical Blitz! at the Adelphi Theatre. His appearances in Sparrows Can’t Sing and the film version of Till Death Us Do Part further solidified his place in the entertainment world.
However, his role as bus conductor Jack Harper in On The Buses catapulted him to stardom. The sitcom’s phenomenal success led to three feature films, making Bob Grant a household name. His on-screen chemistry with co-star Stephen Lewis, who played the infamous Inspector Blakey, added to the show’s charm. Off-screen, Bob found love, marrying Kim Benwell amidst a media frenzy and celebratory bus rides.
But as the buses eventually stopped, Bob Grant’s life took a downturn. Trapped in the shackles of typecasting, he struggled to find new acting opportunities, leading to bouts of depression and bipolar disorder. The once-bright star found himself facing a dark and lonely road.
Desperation led him to pen a farewell note, contemplating a tragic end. Yet, amidst the darkness, a glimmer of hope emerged. He returned from the brink, gaining a few more acting jobs and seemingly finding a way forward.
However, Bob’s demons continued to haunt him. In 1995, a suicide attempt by carbon monoxide poisoning underscored his ongoing struggles. Miraculously, he was rescued in the nick of time, yet the shadows of despair lingered.
Seeking solace and a fresh start, Bob and Kim moved to a tranquil cottage in Gloucestershire. The idyllic surroundings offered a brief respite, and Bob even returned to the stage in Funny Money. But the rollercoaster of life had more in store.
As bills piled up and acting offers dwindled, Bob faced a relentless battle with depression and financial hardship. Tragically, in 2003, he made his final and fateful decision. Alone in his garage, Bob succumbed to the darkness, ending his life as exhaust fumes filled the air.
The news of Bob Grant’s passing sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry and left fans mourning the loss of a true comedy legend. Though his life took a tragic turn after the sitcom ended, his memory lives on through the laughter he brought into countless homes. As we remember this great comedy actor, let’s also reflect on the importance of compassion and support for those battling mental health issues, ensuring that no one suffers alone in the shadows.