‘No one’s going to hell, we’re going to Ilford’: TV bus driver on life behind the wheel

Sajjad Sharif 'Pappa Smurf' in his bus

Sajjad Sharif 'Pappa Smurf' in his bus - Credit: Archant

Having someone proclaiming imminent Armageddon is enough so throw anyone off their game – unless you are a bus driver from Ilford.

Sajjad Sharif 'Pappa Smurf' in his bus

Sajjad Sharif 'Pappa Smurf' in his bus - Credit: Archant

For Sajjad Sharif, 41, it is all in a night’s work to which he gave the sensible reply: “No one’s going to hell, we are going to Ilford.”

He was featured in the BBC2 documentary series Route Masters, which runs for another three weeks.

He drives the night bus 25 from Oxford Circus to Ilford and was followed by camera crews as they encountered everyone from the drunk to the slightly more unusual.

Mr Sharif, of Dudley Road, Ilford, said: “One bloke got on holding his Bible saying were are all damned, something about Mayan dates and the world coming to an end.

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“I told him no one’s going to hell, we are going to Ilford. He was quiet after that.”

He said the first day the camera crews came out with him he kept telling the passengers they were from Crimestoppers so he would not have trouble on his bus.

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Mr Sharif is known as Papa Smurf among colleagues as one of his strategies for dealing with difficult passengers is to offer sweets.

“I’m always giving out sweets as it keeps them busy,” he said. “When there’s a punch-up I tell them to calm downand that I don’t want to fill out lots of forms.

“It’s the party animals that are the problem.”

The father-of-three said that sometimes things happen on his bus that even he is unsure how to deal with.

“One middle-aged man left a large bag of ladies’ fetish underwear on the bus. I asked him if it was his but he said no,” Mr Sharif added.

“I didn’t realise what it was at first.”

Another problem he regularly encounters is women heading home after a boozy hen night.

“They try and kiss me – it’s a bit of a laugh for them as I’m quite religious and have a long beard,” he said.

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