Ronald Chesney, On the Buses co-writer, dies at 98

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Chesney started out as a harmonica player before turning his hand to writing

Ronald Chesney, the celebrated British sitcom writer who created On the Buses and The Rag Trade with writing partner Ronnie Wolfe, has died aged 98.

His daughter, Marianne Cadier, said he died peacefully on 12 April at Kingston Hospital in Surrey.

Chesney and Wolfe, who died in 2011, created so many TV comedies they were known as “The Other Two Ronnies”.

Chesney was also an acclaimed harmonica player who performed with Gracie Fields, Duke Ellington and others.

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Peter Jones with Miriam Karlin and Sheila Hancock in The Rag Trade

Chesney and Wolfe met in 1955 when the latter began writing for Educating Archie, a radio show on which Chesney had a “talking harmonica” novelty act.

After quitting performing, Chesney and Wolfe began a prolific collaboration that saw them create a string of sitcoms for the BBC.

The Rag Trade, starring Reg Varney and Miriam Karlin, depicted the comic conflict between management and staff at a London garment factory.

Meet The Wife, starring Thora Hird and Freddie Frinton as a middle-aged married couple, was another popular success.

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Stephen Lewis, Reg Varney and Bob Grant in On the Buses

Yet the BBC turned down the chance to make On the Buses, which eventually found a home at LWT and became one of their biggest hits.

Set in a bus garage in the fictional town of Luxton, the show spawned three spin-off feature films as well as a short-lived American remake.

Chesney and Wolfe’s later credits included Don’t Drink the Water, featuring On the Buses’ “Blakey”, and Take a Letter, Mr Jones with John Inman.

Morris Bright, chairman of Elstree Studios, remembered Chesney on Twitter as a “lovely modest chap”.

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