Scarborough's Basil Fawlty is back, this time on town's buses

As new buses are being rolled out in Scarborough, people might have spotted a new, yet familiar face behind the wheel.

By Martina Moscariello
Friday, 24th May 2019, 3:10 pm
EY staff and drivers on one of the new open top buses.
EY staff and drivers on one of the new open top buses.

Malcolm Harper, known to many as Scarborough’s Basil Fawlty, is back with a new mission: keeping passengers entertained on bus journeys along the seafront.

After selling the Raincliffe Hotel in Valley Road in 2017, the former hotelier – whose strict policy against rowdy guests earned him the nickname of John Cleese’s famous character – was on the lookout for a new challenge.

He said: “Initially we were planning to go back to Scotland or other parts of Yorkshire but Scarborough had this draw for us, we love it here.

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New bus driver Malcolm Harper behind the wheel.

“After we sold the hotel we stopped at one of our flats on Fulford Road to see what I was going to be doing and then I ended up going for an interview with East Yorkshire [or EY, formerly EYMS].

“I’ve had bad legs for a while so I applied thinking I wouldn’t get it. But EY is actually an equal opportunity firm so it was nice to not be rejected.”

After six weeks of training in Hull, Malcolm is now one of the drivers running the 109 service connecting the town’s Spa to the Sands development on North Bay.

“It’s going from strength to strength,” he added. “I’ve got good reviews coming in and people are actually waiting for me at the bus stops because they want to have a laugh and a joke, that’s what it’s all about instead of sitting there being miserable.

“The run is lovely and you can make it a bit more interesting by explaining certain little points along the route and say things like ‘Nelson never sailed into these waters’ which make people laugh.

“If someone’s looking miserable but get off the bus happy looking for you the next day then you know your job’s been worthwhile.”

The 58-year-old will soon have the pleasure of driving EY’s brand new open top buses, a fleet of eight that have been rebranded Beachcomber.

These were officially unveiled at an event at the Spa at the end of last month and will be rolled out one at a time from the end of May.

They feature a contactless payment system, improved seating and extra capacity.

Team Leader Thomas Betteridge said: “The open top service is iconic to Scarborough and this year we’ve invested £250,000 to try to make it the best it can be and create a friendly, dedicated team, which Malcolm is a great example of.

“We’re also working to build partnerships with local businesses and we’ve introduced joint ticketing with Coastliner to allow their customers to purchase a day ticket which gives them access to our services including the open toppers.”

The six-figure investment has also seen the company set up a new online retail platform allowing customers to buy tickets before getting on board.