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“When you’re out there you think you’re the world’s best driver. Until you come into an environment like this. And that’s when you come down with a bang.” - Jim Johnston, bus training officer This new six-part documentary series for ITV focuses on the ultra-competitive world of trainee London bus drivers. With 20 applicants for every place on the intensive six-week course, the bus drivers’ school promises to be a gateway to a steady salary and a virtual job for life. First, however, the prospective drivers must learn how to safely negotiate a ten-ton bus through London’s overcrowded streets. The trainees are filmed from the first moment they sit behind the wheel of a bus through a set of increasingly complex manoeuvres designed to test their abilities to the limit. Those who make it through the early stages then face the toughest assessment of all – their bus driving test, a 90-minute examination. This will determine if the trainees have what it takes to achieve their dreams, and make it as a bus driver. If they pass this ultimate test, then every crash, every stall, and every heart-in-mouth emergency stop over the six weeks has been worth it.
|S01E01||Episode 1||19/03/2015||In the first episode, a new batch of recruits are starting their six-week course at one of London’s largest double decker driving schools. Single mum and former van driver Claire Carter is hoping that becoming a bus driver will be a smart move - with the steady salary a key motivation for her. She says: “If I do this then next year hopefully it might mean I can take my kids on holiday. They’re my babies, they’re my life.” On her first day out on the open road Claire has a close encounter on a pedestrian crossing and nearly has a head-on collision. With the help of her instructor Alagarsamy Gopal, Claire needs to dig deep to summon the strength and the courage to stay on the course, and pursue her goal. She says: “When I got home I was so deflated. I was talking to my eldest son saying, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ And he was like, ‘Mother, pull yourself together, you can do this.’” Meanwhile, former recovery driver Yasin Cassim has moved to London from Gloucester to try his hand at the Double Decker driving course. He’s four weeks in and he and his instructor Mickey Welch are getting on famously, but when it comes to making mistakes, Yasin rarely believes it’s his fault. Mickey says: “Some of them think they know it all but they don’t. If you don’t listen you won’t last long on this job. Just open your eyes.” And when Yasin has a progress check with training officer Jim Johnston, sparks fly. After he is told off for not using the bus lane, Yasin storms off. Mickey has to resort to jokes, songs and even threats to keep his lippy trainee in line. But Yasin faces an uphill struggle to convince the instructors he has the discipline to be approved for his test, and let loose in a ten-ton bus. Training officer Jim says: “A problem with attitude there, he doesn’t like being told what to do.”|
|S01E02||Episode 2||26/03/2015||This time, single mum Claire Carter is approaching the end of the course. She nearly quit after an eventful first week, which involved a close call on a zebra crossing and near head-on collision. Claire’s pressing on, determined to show her teenage children that anything is possible. But if she is to be granted her all-important driving test she has to prove she can control not only her ten-tonne vehicle, but her nerves as well. As Claire prepares herself for a progress check, training officer Phil Soper says: “Claire is a nervous person. My plan is to put her under pressure today so when she does get to test it flows quite nicely.” But Claire is piling the pressure on herself. She says: “Passing the test would mean everything to me personally because it’s a challenge. I could finish decorating my house, save to take my kids on holiday. To fail now, I’d be absolutely devastated.” Meanwhile, for fellow trainee Manuel Daniel becoming a bus driver would make him a hero in his household - as his seven-year-old son loves buses. Manuel says: “He loves the bus routes - he knows 59, route 133, 58, 468, sometimes he teaches me the bus route. When I get the job and come back home and tell them, ‘Look Gabriel, from now on your daddy is a bus driver.’ I believe the first thing he will say is, ‘Dad, let me come with you!’” More importantly qualifying would allow Manuel to rent a flat for his family, giving his son his own room. However, he is struggling - while his driving gives instructors serious cause for concern, he also needs to pass crucial written exams to achieve his son’s dream. Senior training supervisor Maxine Deslandes says to him after one failed exam: “I will grant you another test… If you fail it the outcome could be the manager decides to terminate your training, so what you need to put in your mind is this is it.”|
|S01E03||Episode 3||09/04/2015||This time, Manuel Daniel is three weeks into the course and struggling. He’s failed a series of crucial safety exams and his driving isn’t up to the high standard expected. For Manuel becoming a bus driver will mean the world; he will finally be able to afford to move out of his parents’ house and rent a place of his own, with a room for his bus-loving son. He says: “I’m happy with a second chance, I’m not ashamed. I’m looking forward to doing the test and passing. More pressure now.” Bart Kosciolek’s on a mission to become London’s friendliest bus driver. Originally from Poland, Bart came to the UK eight years ago. He’s tried his hand at being a chef, but is now set on gaining his bus driving qualification. With his infectious giggle, he wants to spread a little happiness to the capital’s seven million daily bus passengers. He says: “Come on, let’s have some fun. A little smile, a little joke is going to help people make their mood for the day.” But instructor Anna Groom is only prepared to go along with Bart’s antics so far. She says: “He’s a very good driver, he just has to remember while he’s busy smiling and laughing he has to concentrate on driving as well.” Newly-married Rodney Willis has given up a job as a used car salesman to drive a double decker. He believes becoming a bus driver will give him the security he craves. He says: “I’m quietly nervous, but quietly confident. I’ve had my heart set on driving a bus. That’s my plan A, plan B and plan C really.” But despite having driven hundreds of cars, nothing can prepare Rodney for taking control of a 10 tonne double decker - particularly when he finds himself surrounded with hundreds of marching protesters in the middle of Trafalgar Square.|
|S01E04||Episode 4||16/04/2015||This time, newly-married Rodney Willis is preparing for his test. Despite having driven hundreds of cars in his previous job as a car salesman, nothing can prepare Rodney for taking control of a ten-tonne double decker - particularly when he finds himself surrounded with hundreds of marching protesters in the middle of Trafalgar Square. Now he’s ready for his test, but forgetting to indicate at a roundabout sees Rodney lose his cool. A face to face meeting with training manager Geoff White results in Rodney being told to buck up his ideas, or face being thrown off the course. Geoff says: “Anytime you forget when you’re driving in service, you’re probably talking about killing somebody, you can’t afford to forget can you? No. You need to get over it, grow a pair, move on.” Former traffic warden Alvin de Guzman is a father of three who faces a battle to get to grips with the English language as well as the double-decker buses he is learning to drive. After several near misses with cars and lorries on London’s roads, Alvin needs to dramatically improve and show his instructors on his regular progress checks that he has the ability to understand what’s needed of him. He says: “Of course I am worried about it because they will check the way I drive now again, I hope I will make progress. I have a 15-year-old daughter, I have a 13-year-old son, and I have a one-year-old daughter. I don’t want to let them down.” Meanwhile, Courtney de Santos is brimming with confidence having turned to bus driving after helming a white van. He says: “I’d say I mastered driving one of them [a van], it was a piece of cake, so I was like, ‘Let me try something bigger.’ When I try and do things, I do things to the best of my ability, when you go into something you might as well be the best.” But his new instructor Shabaz Alam believes the young trainee is too cocky and isn’t learning from his mistakes, so sets out to put Courtney through his paces. “I’m a hard man to ple|