Doris Hare MBE (1 March 1905 – 30 May 2000) was a Welsh actress, best known for her appearances in the popular sitcom On The Buses alongside Reg Varney and Stephen Lewis.
Born in Bargoed, Mid Glamorgan, Doris Hare’s parents had a portable theatre in South Wales and it seemed inevitable that she would become a part of it, making her debut at the age of three in Current Cash and appearing in juvenile troupes all over Britain as a child, before going solo as ‘‘Little Doris Hare’‘.
Appearing in music-hall, variety, cabaret revues and pantomimes, Hare also acted in plays by George Bernard Shaw, Noel Coward, Alan Bennett, Pinero and Harold Pinter. In 1930, the actress toured in The Show’s the Thing, taking the part made famous by Gracie Fields. Hare was also on radio during the early days of the BBC at Savoy Hill and was hostess of Shipmates Ashore, the BBC’‘s programme for the Merchant Navy, earning her an MBE in 1941. In October, 1932, she made her (apparently) only recording session in London; “Three White Feathers” b/w “The Old Man of the Mountain” issued on Zonophone (6265). In the 1960s she spent a year with the National Theatre, three years with the Royal Shakespeare Company and performed with the Chichester Festival Theatre company for several seasons. Doris Hare made her screen debut in the classic Night Mail film of 1936. She became best known as a comedy actress, and appeared in films like The History of Mr Polly (1949) and popular TV programmes such as Dixon of Dock Green and The Saint. Hare came to national attention in the small-screen role as Stan Butler’s widowed mother, Mrs Mabel Butler, in On the Buses, taking over the part from Cicely Courtneidge in the second series of the raucous ITV comedy, which had started in 1969.
The series ran until 1973 and spawned three spin-off films On the Buses (1971), Mutiny on the Buses (1972) and Holiday on the Buses (1973) in which Hare recreated her small-screen role. The cast also performed a stage version of the popular series in Vancouver, Canada, in 1988. After the show ended, Doris Hare spent a year in the West End farce No Sex Please, We’re British. Having turned down the role of Ena Sharples in Coronation Street, Doris did play Alice Pickens in the series during 1969. She was due to marry Albert Tatlock, but the wedding never took place. In 1969 she appeared in the paranormal detective series Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) in the 13th episode “But What a Sweet Little Room” as the scary scientologist Madame Hanska. She also appeared in the Confessions series of films with Robin Askwith and Anthony Booth during the 1970s. One of her last film roles was as a nun in Nuns on the Run with comedy actor Robbie Coltrane in 1990. A couple of years later she made her final stage appearance in the West End farce It Runs in the Family. Doris Hare won a Variety Club of Great Britain Special Award for her contributions to show business in 1982.