Harmonica player and writer who created The Rag Trade and On The Buses

Born: 1920;

Died: April 12, 2018

RONALD Chesney, who has died aged 98, was a celebrated comedy writer, who, with his writing partner Ronnie Wolfe, created some of the most successful sit-coms of the 1960s and 70s, including The Rag Trade and On The Buses. Chesney was also for many years a successful harmonica player who performed with Duke Ellington, Gracie Fields and many others.

Chesney had come to his career as a writer in the 1950s while working on the BBC radio show Educating Archie, featuring the ventriloquist Peter Brough and his doll Archie Andrews. Chesney had a regular role on the show as a harmonica player and Wolfe was a scriptwriter for the programme. The pair hit it off and began working together as writers.

Their first hit was the BBC show The Rag Trade, which was groundbreaking when it was first shown in 1961. Before that, sit-coms and television comedies had tended to be domestic or suburban affairs, but The Rag Trade was set in a ordinary workplace - a garment factory - and as such was something new to television. Most of the comedy came from the conflict between the management, led by Peter Jones, and the workers, led by the shop steward Miriam Karlin, who provided the show's catchphrase: "everybody out!"

However, it was the duo's first ITV show On The Buses that took them to new heights and led to them being described as the nation's Other Two Ronnies. Again, the show was set in a workplace - this time a bus depot - and featured a pair of dodgy drivers, played by Reg Varney and Bob Grant, always trying to get the better of their grumpy inspector Blakey, played by Stephen Lewis. The catchphrase this time was "I'll get you Butler!" It was a huge hit and led to three successful movies.

For Chesney, his success as a writer meant that he had reached the absolute top of two different professions. Born Rene Cadier in the UK to French parents, he left school at 16 to become a professional harmonica player and entertained troops during the Second World War. He also performed at the Albert Hall and the Palladium and made professional recordings for HMV and EMI. In 1959, he coached the actor Liam Redmond on playing the harmonica in the film No Trees in The Street, starring Sylvia Syms.

However, it was the musical spot on the Archie Andrews show that led to his success in his second career in writing. The Rag Trade, which ran on the BBC from 1961-63 and then again on ITV from 1977-78, was his first hit, but it led to a string of others.

In 1963, there was Meet The Wife starring Thora Hird and Freddie Frinton as a middle-aged couple; two years later, there was The Bed Sit Girl with Sheila Hancock as a bored typist and then in 1967 Sorry I'm Single with Derek Nimmo as a grown-up student.

After the success of On The Buses, which ran for 73 episodes from 1969-73 and at its height was watched by 16million people, Chesney and Wolfe also wrote other hits for ITV. There was Romany Jones in 1972, which featured Arthur Mullard and Queenie Watts as a couple living on a caravan site; there was then a follow-up, Yus My Dear, featuring the same couple living in a new council house. There was also a spin-off from On The Buses called Don't Drink the Water following Blakey on retirement in Spain.

The writing duo's final British series was Take a Letter Mr Jones in 1981. It featured John Inman between series of Are You Being Served? as the male secretary to a female boss played by Rula Lenska, but it was not a success and ran for only one series.

Chesney, who was married with two children, continued to play the harmonica and was president of the National Harmonica League.