As the grinning, lecherous bus conductor Jack in the sitcom On the Buses, Bob Grant became one of the most familiar faces on British television in the late-1960s and early-1970s. He was driver Reg Varney's lustful sidekick, forever chasing birds and infuriating and outwitting the humourless inspector Blakey played by Stephen Lewis.

London Weekend Television made more than 70 episodes of On the Buses between 1969 and 1973 - after the BBC turned it down - and it was Britain's most popular show for three successive years.

The first of three spin-off movies was the most successful British film of 1971, outperforming Diamonds are Forever. The series was shown in more than 40 countries

and the Americans attempted their own version called

Lotsa Luck.

But Grant, who died at the age of 71, never found another vehicle to rival On the Buses, though its laddish humour still enjoys a sizeable following, even in these PC times. Behind the happy-go-lucky image, Grant suffered from depression and was found dead in a fume-filled car in his garage in Twyning, Gloucestershire, having apparently committed suicide.

Born in Hammersmith, London, Grant trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, served in the Royal Artillery as a lieutenant during national service, and did, indeed, have a spell ''on the buses'' before working with

the legendary Joan Littlewood at the Theatre Royal Strat-

ford East and making a splash in the West End in 1962

starring in Blitz!, Lionel Bart's follow-up to Oliver! and another huge hit.

Grant had appeared in

the comic play Sparrers Can't Sing at the Theatre Royal, written by Stephen Lewis, who later played Blakey in

On the Buses, and was in the 1963 film version, with James Booth and Barbara Windsor. One of his biggest stage

successes was the 1964 musical Instant Marriage, which

he wrote and starred in with Joan Sims. It was panned by critics, but ran for a year in the West End.

On the Buses transformed him into a household name and, when he married a

former cocktail waitress in 1971, the wedding was mobbed by fans. He appeared in the three spin-off films - On the Buses (1971), Mutiny on the Buses (1972), and Holiday on the Buses (1973) - and wrote later episodes.

Grant and Lewis also wrote a Comedy Playhouse pilot, The Jugg Brothers (1970), in which they played two brothers, but it was not turned

into a series. Grant also

co-wrote a sitcom pilot, with Anthony Marriott, called Milk-O (1975), in which he and Anna Karen (Olive in On the Buses) played a milkman and his wife.

He and Marriott also wrote several stage comedies, including No Room for Love (1978). Grant became a regular on

the panto circuit, but had difficulty escaping the sexual comedy on which his fame was founded.

In 1981 he appeared at

the King's Theatre, Edinburgh, in a touring production of

the once-controversial

revue Oh! Calcutta!, accompanied by a chorus line of naked men and women

less than half his age. But he found it increasingly difficult to get work.

Bob Grant, actor and playwright; born April 14, 1932, died November 8, 2003.