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Monty Python’s ‘Great Olympic Moments’ you probably won’t see in Rio

Luckily, it can now not be Rio and it most really is not 2016 but the mind palaces of Monty Python have delivered us a number of the most memorable moments in Olympic video games history, apart from Mr. Bean at the 2012 London Olympics of path. First, Eric Idle reports from London on one of the maximum memorable occasions with the intention to for all time be etched in our collective reminiscence, the Second Leg of the Olympic very last of the guys’ conceal and are seeking for competition.
Right here, Francisco Huron of Paraguay (Terry Jones) and Don Roberts from Hinckley in Leicestershire (Graham Chapman) compete in this ‘severe Olympic sport’. Inside the first leg, Don Roberts succeeded in finding Francisco Huron inside the world record-breaking time of 11 years, 2 months, 26 days, 9 hours, 3 mins and 27.4 seconds. Now in this second leg, it’s Francisco Huron’s flip as the seeker. The very last takes the competition internationally, and lasts over eleven years. The Olympic hide-and-searching for very last premiered on 14 December 1972.
From there, we travel to Munich wherein the video games are held, officially, each 3.7 years. on this precise year, the video games had been tremendously successful, pulling collectively competition from over 4 million exceptional international locations with some of exciting occasions. From the first event of the day and the second semi-finals of The one hundred Yards with human beings and not using a experience of course to the two hundred Meter Freestyle for Non-Swimmers occasion to the world report placing soar by way of the Soviet Union access, these video games had been ones for the file books. However, I’m guessing we will not be seeing any of Great Olympic Moments in Rio over the direction of the following couple of weeks.

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Monty Python icon John Cleese almost made Thursday night football watchable

Thursday night football has been a raging tire wireless for the reason that its advent in 2006. For over a decade, wi-fi matchups, football, and a broadcast partnership with NFL’s approximate model a community have made it the low-hanging punching bag of sports fanatics throughout the united states, however this 12 months, they’re getting one tiny (and absolutely inconsequential) element proper:

The intros.

Before you block us on every achievable social media platform, throw all of your gadgets into a quarry, and circulate your complete circle of relatives off the grid, however, recognize that we aren’t speak approximately Tinashe’s interminable, least-soccer-component-you’ve-ever-heard TNF anthem, “Light the night time Up”. That need to burn within the wi-firey pit of football hell along O.J. and Jimmy Johnson’s toupée and for all eternity.

What we got here right here to praise instead, are CBS sports activities’ new digital TNF teases—neatly produced brief wi-fimovies slapped with some piece of Hollywood ass designed to either A. tell the tale of the sport, or B. upload some comedian levity to the four hours of brain-bruising war you tuned in for wi-fi week, for instance, Michael Keaton narrated a few Boardwalk Empire-esque records of the Packer-Bears competition. It became wiwireless. better than Tinashe. You likely already forgot approximately it.

Ultimate night, but, TNF manufacturers took things up some other notch, plucking Monty Python legend John Cleese out of some thing dingy Oxford pub he’s been holed up in for the past 25 years for an etymological riff at the absurdity of yankee football that is going down drier than a gin martini.

Positively, it’s no Holy Grail (or lifestyles of Brian, for all you elitist nerds inside the target market), but it’s a hell of lots better than Eli Manning dancing to a few automobile-tuned Snapchat pan-flash on country wide tv, so forestall what you’re doing and listen up. We’re most effective going to say this once: Congrats Thursday night time football. You did proper.

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Would ‘The Silly Olympics’ Monty Python caricature be allowed nowadays?

The Monty Python caricature ‘The Silly Olympics‘ changed into a first rate fulfillment, however would it not be broadcast today?
John Cleese: hiya, and welcome to Munich, for the 27th Silly Olympiad, an event held traditionally every 3.7 years, which this year has brought collectively competition from over 4 million unique nations. And here we are on the begin of the first event of the afternoon: The second one semi-final of the one hundred metres for people and not using a experience of course.
At the track a discipline of runners begin to get into their blocks for the 100 metres and there are the competitors; Lane One: Kolomovski of Poland; Lane two: Zatapatique of France; Lane three: Gropovich of the united states, subsequent to him: Drabble of Trinidad, next to him: Fernandez of Spain, and in the outside lane: Bormann of Brazil!

Starter: Get set!
Starter’s Pistol: [Bang]
John Cleese: Well, that turned into a laugh, wasn’t it? And now, over to the alternative cease of the stadium. And here they’re simply awaiting the begin of the 1500 meters for the deaf. And they are below starter’s orders.
Starter’s Pistol: [Bang]
John Cleese: Nicely, we’ll be coming returned the moment there may be any action. And now over to the swimming. And also you be part of us here at the Bundesabsurd pool just in time to look the start of the 200 meters freestyle for non-swimmers. Watch for the pinnacle Australian champion Ron Barnett inside the 2d lane.
Starter’s Whistle: [Whistle]
Swimmers: [Splash]
John Cleese: Nicely, we will be bringing you lower back right here the moment they start fishing the corpses out. And now over to Hans Clay for the begin of the marathon for incontinents.
Hans Clay: Nicely, we installed for this event forty four competition from 29 exceptional countries, they all with the maximum superbly susceptible bladders. Now not a tight sphincter in sight geared up to embark, however, on the world’s longest race and they may be just aching to move!
Starter: To your marks! Get set!
Starter’s Pistol: [Bang]
Hans Clay: And they’re off! They may be off! Nicely, no…..
John Cleese: Properly…, lower back on the 1500 meters and the starter’s placing up a astounding show! we’ve had  scattered random fire, fuselage firing. It is sufficient to make you bite your very own foot off! And now the high leap! Katerina Ovelenskij, Soviet Union! however what a bounce! What a bounce! this is were given to be a document! And right here we are on the 3000 meter steeplechase for folks who suppose they’re chickens! there is Samuelsson of the usa, and over there may be Klaus of East Germany! he’s been a Rhode Island crimson now for the final three olympics. there’s the referee seeking to get them going, but he’s may be the leader, Abe Seagull of Canada was very good at the beginning then settled down on the water bounce, and has now long past crazy. Now we’re returned with the marathon for incontinents all over again. there is Polinski of Poland within the lead, and now Brewer of Australia is taking on! And so now it’s far Alvarez of Cuba, accompanied by way of the plucky Norwegian Borg, they’re inside and out like yo-yos those boys. These need to be a number of the weakest bladders ever to symbolize their country! And now, permit’s have a look lower back at what is taking place down on degree!

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Monty Python’s Circus and Other Interesting Facts

Michael Palin, illustrator Terry Gilliam and director Ian MacNaughton have teamed up to create Monty Python’s Circus, a fast-paced program that is considered one of the most influential comic compilation on television after surpassing October 5, 1969.

1. It turns into inspiration through SPIKE MILLIGAN.
Spike Milligan created the Goon Screen (aka The Beatles), a surreal radio program with his own involvement, Harry Secombe and Peter’s agent earlier than Milligan switched to television with Q … ( 1969-1982). The first series, the fifth, debuted 12 months earlier than Monty Python’s Flying Circus and produced pretty good effects.

“Terry Jones and I love Q … hints,” Michael Palin declared. “They were full of surrealism and invention, and [Milligan] was in great danger … while it came to Python, Terry Jones]and I was so impressed that we found Get the director’s call about stopping credit and hiring him.”


Initially, a BBC government wanted to call Baron von Took’s Flying Circus collection, the community’s comic advisor, who became a contributor to the Pythons and the BBC. can He also became a comedian for the studio’s target market before the first night of shooting. However, there have been a number of different considerations for the name, including Time Lapse; Bunn, Wackett, Buzzard, Stubble and Boot; Who is Canada ?; Oh! that is Colin Plint; A horse, a spoon and a bucket; The second frog; and Algy Banging Time. The BBC, in a provocative country, became interested in “Flying Circus,” and the troupe released “Monty Python.”

The giant footprint can be seen inside the founding credits of Cupid’s show, and comes from Bronzino’s description “An Allegory with Venus and Cupid.” In line with the National Gallery, the portrait appeared in about “1545” and was given to King Francis I of France as a gift. Terry Gilliam saw the painting at the National Gallery in 1969 while searching for some Flying Circus ideas.

4. The theme of the flaw has changed to JOHN PHILIP SOUSA’s “FREE STEP”.
The Pythons chose the “free bell” of John Philip Sousa (made using the Guards of the Grenadier Corps) as their subject, primarily for monetary reasons: as it became in the offense. It has changed to free after being published.

5. It turns into almost canceled after ONE EPISODE.

In keeping with some of the excavated internal memorabilia, BBC1’s Paul Fox said the troupe had “crossed the threshold of what was perfect.” Artistic head Stephen Heast said they were “immersed in the brutality of humor”. Leadership bill receipt Cotton Monty Python “seems to have a wish death.” Despite the thoughts and scores of the coffee market, the screen has struggled for three and a half seasons, during the 45 general episodes until 1974.

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Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Series 1

“Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Series 1”
Director/Producer: John Howard Davies (shows 1-4); Ian MacNaughton (shows 5-13)
Broadcast on BBC1

From the very beginning, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” demonstrated quite clearly that the group’s six members were after something quite uncategorizable. The first episode broadcast presented a surreal mix of violence (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart hosts a program depicting famous deaths), TV commercial and interview programme parodies, bizarre cut-out animations, and a shout-out to titans of modern art – all linked by pigs.

Series Highlights

Episode 1“Whither Canada?” (Original air date: 5 Oct. 1969) – Famous Deaths; Italian Lesson; Whizzo Butter; Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson; Picasso/Cycling Race; The Funniest Joke in the World

Episode 2“Sex and Violence” (Original air date: 12 Oct. 1969) – Flying Sheep (With French Lecture); A Man With Three Buttocks; The Mouse Organ; Marriage Guidance Counselor; Working-Class Playwright; “Epilogue”: Wresting to Determine the Existence of God; Carnivorous Pram and Rodin’s Kiss; The Mouse Problem

Episode 3, “How to Recognize Different Types of Trees From Quite a Long Way Away”(Original air date: 19 Oct. 1969) – The Larch; Courtroom Sketch; Bicycle Repairman; Storytime; Dirty Fork Sketch; Seduced Milkmen; Stolen Newsreader; Children’s Interview; Nudge Nudge

Episode 4“Owl-Stretching Time” (Original air date: 26 Oct. 1969) – Art Gallery; Undressing in Public; Self-Defense Against Fresh Fruit; Secret Service Dentists

Episode 5“Man’s Crisis of Identity in the Latter Half of the Twentieth Century” (Original air date: 16 Nov. 1969) – Confuse-A-Cat; The Smuggler; An Interview With a Duck, a Cat, and a Lizard; Police Raid; Newsreader Arrest; “Match of the Day”; Job Interview; Burglar/Encyclopedia Salesman

Episode 6 [No episode title] (Original air date: 23 Nov. 1969) – Johann Gambolputty … of Ulm; Vox Pops; Whizzo Chocolate; The Dull Life of a City Stockbroker; Red Indian in Theatre; 20th Century Vole

Episode 7, “You’re No Fun Any More” (Original air date: 30 Nov. 1969) – Camel Spotting; The Audit; The Blancmange, From Andromeda to WImbledon

Episode 8, “Full Frontal Nudity” (Original air date: 7 Dec. 1969) – Army Protection Racket; Vox Pops; Art Critic; Buying a Bed; Hermits; Dead Parrot; The Flasher; Hell’s Grannies

Episode 9“The Ant, an Introduction” (Original air date: 14 Dec. 1969) – Llamas; A Man With a Tape Recorder Up His Nose; Mountaineering Expedition; The Lumberjack Song; Gumby Crooner; The Refreshment Room at Bletchley; The Hunting Party; The Visitors

Episode 10 [No episode title] (Original air date: 21 Dec. 1969) – Walk-on Role; Robbing a Lingerie Shop; Arthur Tree; Vocational Guidance Counselor; The First Man to Jump the English Channel; Pet Conversions; Gorilla Librarian; Letters; Strangers After Dark

Episode 11 [No episode title] (Original air date: 28 Dec. 1969) – Lavatory Humor; Agatha Christie Sketch; Literary Football Interview; Undertakers; “Interesting People”; The Battle of Trafalgar; The Batley Townswomen’s Guild Presents the Battle of Pearl Harbor; Undertakers

Episode 12 [No episode title] (Original air date: 4 Jan. 1970) – Falling From a Building; “Spectrum”; Mr. Hilter and the North Minehead By-Election; Ken Shabby; Falling Through the Earth’s Crust

Episode 13 [No episode title] (Original air date: 11 Jan. 1970) – Intermissions; Cannibal Restaurant; Albatross; Me Doctor; Historical Impersonations; Psychiatry and Operating Theatre

The Making of

“One of the first sketches was about sheep nesting in trees, which John and Graham had offered to ‘The Frost Report,'” said Terry Jones. “And the producer, Jimmy Gilbert, had said, ‘No, no, no, it’s too silly. We can’t do that.’ John’s thing was always, ‘The great thing about Python was that it was somewhere where we could use up all that material that everybody else had said was too silly.'”

The Pythons saw themselves not as primarily writers or primarily actors, but as writer-actors.

“Everybody loved performing, absolutely!” said Michael Palin. “Everybody wanted to go out there and put the dress on or whatever! I rarely heard instance where someone said, ‘Well, I don’t want to do that.’ The great thing was, because we were all brought up in the university cabarets, to get out there and show your own material was part of it. Writing was merely fifty percent; the other fifty percent was the performing of it.”

While Cleese & Chapman and Palin & Jones worked as writing teams, and Idle wrote solo, the five would shape their material into a cohesive script. Terry Gilliam, however, worked much more on his own, providing the animations that would glue disparate sketches together.

Gilliam said that in story meetings, “I always had the most difficulty because I could never explain what I was doing; whenever I did, there would be these blank faces. I was maybe in the best position because I had the most freedom. The others had to submit all their material to the group and get rejected or include or changed; mine, because I couldn’t explain it, and because we were always revising at the last moment, was pretty much never touched.”

“I think our budget was £5,000 a show,” said Jones. “It had been kind of a tight operation. Everything was planned very rigorously. We’d do the outdoor filming for most of the series before we started shooting the studio stuff. We had to write the entire series before we even started doing anything, because we’d be shooting stuff for show 13, show 1, or show 2 while we’re in one location, so that while you’re at the seaside you can do all the seaside bits.”


The first series of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” was originally broadcast on the BBC late on Sunday evenings – and not in all regions of Britain. (Sorry, Midlands!)

“Partly because of its programing and the time it went out, Python clearly was seen as very much of an adult experience,” said Michael Palin, “which is very interesting because nowadays the spirit of Python burns on in ten-year-olds, twelve-year-olds, thirteen-year-olds. So many children love Python. But at the time it was seen as an adult show.

“Also, we became sort of the intellectuals’ darling for a bit, written up in the Observer, things like that … The word ‘cult’ was quote soon applied to Python, though we weren’t quite sure what a ‘cult show’ is. It applied to something that is the property of only a very few select people. I’d never been interested in doing that before. ‘Frost Report’ was a very popular show; ‘Do Not Adjust Your Set’ was aimed at a popular audience. But Python seemed to fit into this niche of darling, irreverent, therefore only accessible to those of a certain sort of intellectual status, and that lasted for a long time.”

John Cleese said, “My experience is that critics recognize what is slightly original, but very frequently miss what is very original! And if you look back at the reviews of ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus,’ they were really not particularly noticeable – nothing remarkable about the reviews for quite a long time. I suspect you would probably get to show 9 or 10 of the first series before anybody was really writing that something remarkable was happening.

“A few people got it right away. But critics on the whole did something hat they do when they’re insecure: they describe what the show was like without really committing themselves to a value judgment.”

“Always we tried to epater les bourgeois,” said Eric Idle. “Once when filming, a British middle-class lady came up and said, ‘Oh, Monty Python, I absolutely hate you lot.’ And we felt quite proud and happy. Nowadays I miss people who hate us; we have sadly become nice, safe and acceptable now, which shows how clever an Establishment really is, opening up to make room inside itself.”

The series received three BAFTA nominations (for Best Light Entertainment Show, Best Script, and John Cleese for Best Light Entertainment Personality), and received two special BAFTA awards – for production, writing & performance, and for Terry Gilliam’s animations.

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Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Series 3

“Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Series 3”
Director/Producer: Ian MacNaughton
Broadcast on BBC1

In December 1971 the Pythons began recording their third BBC series, pushing themselves with more creative narrative development and more surreal characters (and, thanks to improved BBC budgets, more ambitious location shoots). The third series also marked the first Python episode in which a single story (“The Cycling Tour”) took up the entire half-hour.

Pushing the boundaries of taste, however, ended up inviting more oversight by the BBC’s censors.

Series Highlights

Episode 27“Whicker’s World” (Original air date: 19 Oct. 1972) – Njorl’s Saga; Multiple Homicide Trial; Police Pursuit Inside Body Animation; Stock Exchange Report; Mrs. Premise and Mrs. Conclusion Visit Jean-Paul Sartre; Whicker’s World

Episode 28 [No official title] (Original air date: 26 Oct. 1972) – Mr. and Mrs. Brian Norris’ Ford Popular; Schoolboy’s Extracurricular Activities; How to Do It; Mrs. Niggerbaiter; Farming Club; The Life of Tschaikowsky; Trim-Jeans Theatre Presents; Fish Slapping Dance; Submarine Fish Animation; Puss in Boots; BBC Budget Cuts

Episode 29 [No official title] (Original air date: 2 Nov. 1972) – The Money Programme; Erizabeth L; Church Police; Jungle Restaurant; Ken Russell’s “Gardening Club”; The Lost World of Roiurama; Argument Clinic

Episode 30 [No official title] (Original air date: 9 Nov. 1972) – “Blood, Devastation, Death, War & Horror,” featuring the Man Who Speaks in Anagrams; Merchant Banker; Nature Film; The House Hunters Animation; Mary Recruitment Office; The Man Who Makes People Laugh Uncontrollably; News Reader Gestures; BBC Announcers; “The Pantomime Horse Is a Secret Agent Film”

Episode 31“The All-England Summarize Proust Competition” (Original air date: 16 Nov. 1972) – The All-England Summarize Proust Competition; Everest Climbed by Hairdressers; Fire Brigade; “Party Hints With Veronica Smalls”; Language Lab; Travel Agent (Mr. Smoketoomuch); (Miss) Anne Elk

Episode 32 [No official title] (Original air date: 23 Nov. 1972) – Tory Housewives Anti-Pornography Campaign; Gumby Brain Surgeon; Molluscs; The Minster for Not Listening to People; Apology (Politicians); Expedition to Lake Pahoe; The Silliest Sketch Ever

Episode 33 [No official title] (Original air date: 30 Nov. 1972) – Biggles Dictates a Letter; Climbing Uxbridge Road; Lifeboat; “Storage Jars”; Why Television Is Bad for Your Eyes; The Show So Far; Cheese Shoppe; Sam Peckinpah’s “Salad Days”; Apology; Interlude

Episode 34“The Cycling Tour” (Original air date: 7 Dec. 1972) – The Cycling Tour, Featuring Mr. Pither, Trotsky, Bingo-crazed Chinese, Clodagh Rogers and Dancing Monsters

Episode 35 [No official title] (Original air date: 14 Dec. 1972) – A Bomb on the Plane; English Literature Housing Project; “Mortuary Hour”; The Olympic Hide-and-Seek Final; The Cheap-Laughs; Bull-Fighting; Chairman of the The British Well-Basically Club; Probe on the Planet Algon

Episode 36 [No official title] (Original air date: 21 Dec. 1972) – Tudor Pornography; The Rev. Arthur Belling; The Free Repetition of Doubtful Words Things; “Is There?”; Thripshaw’s Disease; Silly Noises; Sherry-Hoarding Vicar

Episode 37 [No official title] (Original air date: 4 Jan. 1973) – “Boxing Tonight”; Dennis Moore; Astrology Sketch; Ideal Loon Exposition; Poetry of the Off-License; “Prejudice”

Episode 38 [No official title] (Original air date: 11 Jan. 1973) – Choreographed Conservative Party Broadcast; “A Book at Bedtime”; Kamikaze Scotsmen; No Time to Lose; “2001: A Space Odyssey” Bone; Penguins; Spot the Loony; Rival Documentaries; New BBC Series Promos

Episode 39“Grandstand” (Original air date: 18 Jan. 1973) – Light Entertainment Awards With Dickie Attenborough; Oscar Wilde Sketch; Pasolini’s “The Third Test Match”; David Niven’s Fridge; Curry’s Brains; Blood Donor; International Wife-Swapping; The Dirty Vicar Sketch

The Making of

The third series featured some of Python’s most memorable bits: Dennis Moore, the Cheese Shoppe, “The Money Programme,” The All-England Summarize Proust Competition, Sam Peckinpah’s “Salad Days,” and the Fish-Slapping Dance. Terry Gilliam’s animations included an eye-gouging television set and a spot-on parody of “2001.”

One of the most surreal sketches ever featured a city gent (Terry Jones) who makes people laugh uncontrollably just by uttering a word. Fired from his firm due to the debilitating effect he has on his co-workers, he pours out his soul to his manager, even threatening suicide, while his boss is reduced to uncontrollable fits of laughter.

While previously the BBC did not interfere with the production of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” during the third series, program executives began making their presence felt before episodes were transmitted.

“The BBC was changing – it was more sensitive to political pressure – but it felt like special attention was being paid to us because we were ‘naughty boys,'” said Terry Jones.

“When the first and second series went out, nobody ever looked at the shows or anything until they went out. In the last [second series] episode we had the ‘Undertaker’ sketch, which was a gross breach of good taste! … I think Ian [MacNaughton] really got carpeted for that. And then [for] the next series, they wanted to look at the shows before they went out.”

At one point BBC executives presented a memo dubbed “Thirty-Two Points of Worry,” about items in episodes that were deemed offensive or problematic, such as the “Proust Competition” participant who lists his hobbies as “strangling animals, golf and masturbating.” [Apparently, strangling animals was OK, but masturbation was not.]

“Some of the [points] were things they’d made up,” said Jones, such as, “‘You must remove the giant penis that John holds around the door.’ What on earth are they talking about? Had a look at it – it was actually a severed leg that somebody had to sign in the ‘Curry’s Brains’ sketch.’ It was just they weren’t looking very carefully!”

One bit that was cut due to BBC pressure was the “Wee-Wee Sketch,” in which Eric Idle offers Terry Jones a drink from his vast wine cellar, except the wine turns out to be wee-wee. “He’s been laying down wee-wee for years!” said Terry Gilliam. “It’s just a very silly sketch.”

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Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Series 2

“Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Series 2”
Director/Producer: Ian MacNaughton
Broadcast on BBC1

In the show’s second series the Pythons were even more confident and daring than in their first, as evident in both the tightness of the editing and the breadth of their material – thus avoiding the “sophomore jinx.”

Series Highlights  [Note: None of the shows had official episode titles]

Episode 14
 (Original air date: 15 Sept. 1970) – Face the Press; New Cooker Sketch; Tobacconist Adverts; The Ministry of Silly Walks; The Piranha BrothersEpisode 15 

(Original air date: 22 Sept. 1970) – Man-Powered Flight; The Spanish Inquisition; Novelties Salesman; A Tax on “Thingy”; The Semaphore Version of “Wuthering Heights”; Court CharadesEpisode 16 

(Original air date: 29 Sept. 1970) – Exploding Stuffed Animals; The Rehearsing Bishop; Flying Lessons; Hijacked Plane; Poet Ewen McTeagle; Psychiatrist Milkmen; Deja VuEpisode 17

 (Original air date: 20 Oct. 1970) – Gumbys; Architect Sketch; How to Give Up Being a Mason; The Bishop; Home on the Pavement; Poet Reader; Chemist Sketch; Police Constable Pan-AmEpisode 18 

(Original air date: 27 Oct. 1970) – Live From the Grill-O-Mat Snack Bar, Paignton; “Blackmail”; Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things; A Room That Destroys Itself; A School Production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”; A Man Alternately Rude and Police; Boxer Ken Clean-Air SystemsEpisode 19

 (Original air date: 3 Nov. 1970) – “It’s a Living”; Eric Dibley’s “If”; Dung; Timmy Wilson’s Coffee Time; Raymond Luxury Yacht; Registry Office; Fairy Tayle Animation (With the Black Spot); Election Night Special (Featuring the Silly and Sensible Parties)Episode 20

 (Original air date: 10 Nov. 1970) – “The Attila the Hun Show”; Secretary of State Striptease; Killer Sheep; The News for Parrots; Village Idiots; Test Match; Michael Miles Quiz ShowEpisode 21 

(Original air date: 17 Nov. 1970) – Archaeology Today; Silly Vicar; Wife Swap; Mr. and Mrs. Git; Mosquito Hunters; Judges’ Cloakroom; Ms. Thing and Mrs. Entity; Beethoven’s Mynah BirdEpisode 22 

(Original air date: 24 Nov. 1970) – How to Recognize Different Parts of the Body; Bruces; The Man Who Contradicts People; Plastic Surgeon; Military Swanning About; Woman Trips Bus Animation; Killer Cars Animation; Verrifast Plaine Company Ltd.; The Batley Townswomen’s Guild’s Re-enactment of the First Heart Transplant; The Death of Mary Queen of Scots; Penguin on the Television; Inspector Muffin; “Bing Tiddle Tiddle Bong!”Episode 23

 (Original air date: 1 Dec. 1970) – French Film; Scott of the Antarctic; Conrad Poohs and His Dancing Teeth; Fish License; Rugby MatchesEpisode 24

 (Original air date: 8 Dec. 1970) – Conquistidor Instant Coffee Advertising Campaign; Prime Minister Striptease; Job Interview; “It All Happened on the 11:20 From Hainault &c”; Mr. Neville Shunte; Toothy Film Director; Crackpot Religions; How Not to Be Seen; Crossing the Atlantic on a Tricycle; “Yummy Yummy Yummy”; “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” repeated in 30 secondsEpisode 25

 (Original air date: 15 Dec. 1970) – The Black Eagle; Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook; World Forum Communist Quiz Show; Ypres 1914 Sketch; Art Gallery Figures on Strike; Hospital for Over-Acting; Gumby Flower Arrangement; SpamEpisode 26 

(Original air date: 22 Dec. 1970) – Royal Episode 13; Coal Mine Disputes; The Man Who Says Things in a Very Roundabout Way; Krelm Toothpaste Commercial Animation; How to Feed a Goldfish; The Man Who Collects Birdwatcher’s Eggs; Insurance Sketch; Exploding Version of “The Blue Danube”; Lifeboat; Cannibalism Animation; Undertaker SketchThe Making of

Michael Palin said, “I think there was always a conscious desire to do something which was ahead of or tested the audience’s taste, or tested the limits of what we can or cannot say. I think it’s probably strongest in John and Graham’s writing; they enjoyed being able to shock (whereas Terry and I enjoyed surprise more than shock). … The two of them would put together things like the ‘Undertaker Sketch,’ purely because they knew it was outrageous, and yet they did it in a way none of the other Pythons would have done, so it was quite refreshing.


Unlike Series 1, which went out late Sunday evenings, Series 2 was broadcast Tuesdays on BBC1. There were still regional channels that did not pick up the show, however, stirring much protest in the letters pages of the Radio Times.

On repeats, some sketches fell to the scissors of the BBC’s censors. “Fairy Tale,” Terry Gilliam’s cartoon featuring a prince who discovers a black spot on his face (“Foolishly he ignored it, and three years later he died of cancer”), was edited to replace the word “cancer” with “gangrene.” A Gilliam cartoon in which Christ is crucified on a telephone pole was also cut.

The notorious “Undertaker Sketch,” in which John Cleese brings his dead mother in a sack to a funeral home, only to be offered the option of having her for dinner (“Tell you what, we’ll eat her, if you feel a bit guilty about it after, we can dig a grave and you can throw up in it”), was cut on a repeat, and lost. A copy of an NTSC recording from North America was the source for reinserting the sketch back into the episode for syndication in the 1980s.

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Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Series 4

“Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Series 4”
Director/Producer: Ian MacNaughton
Broadcast on BBC1

Filmed after the completion of “Holy Grail,” the fourth series (whose title was shortened to just “Monty Python”) constituted just six episodes. John Cleese had already expressed his desire to move on to solo projects (“Fawlty Towers” would premiere on the BBC in September 1975), and so he does not appear, although he received a writing credit for his contributions with Graham Chapman.

Series Highlights

Episode 40, “The Golden Age of Ballooning” (Original air date: 31 Oct. 1974) – The Golden Age of Ballooning, Featuring the Montgolfier Brothers; Louis XIV, George III and Ferdinand von Zeppelin; The Norwegian Party

Episode 41“Michael Ellis” (Original air date: 7 Nov. 1974) – Buying an Ant; Ant Poetry Reading; Toupee Hall; Various Endings

Episode 42“Light Entertainment War” (Original air date: 14 Nov. 1974) – “Up Your Pavement”; RAF Banter; Courtmartial; Programme Planners; Programme Planners’ Conference; The Last Five Miles of the M2; Woody and Tinny Words; Show Jumping; “When Does a Dream Begin?”

Episode 43“Hamlet” (Original air date: 21 Nov. 1974) – “Hamlet”; Bogus Psychiatrists; “Nationwide”; Police Helmets; Father-in-Law; Boxing Promoter; Piston Engine; Queen Victoria Handicap

Episode 44“Mr. Neutron” (Original air date: 28 Nov. 1974) – Postal Box Dedication; Mr. Neutron; “Conjuring Today”

Episode 45“Party Political Broadcast” (Original air date: 5 Dec. 1974) – Most Awful Family in Britain; Icelandic Honey Week; Waiting Room Stabbing; The Brigadier and the Bishop; The Man Who Finishes Other People’s Sentences; David Attenborough and the Walking Tree of Dahomey; The Batsmen of the Kalahari

The Making of

Though Cleese’s absence is palpable, there is still some stellar material, including the “Light Entertainment War” episode (in which RAF pilots cannot understand each other’s banter), “Mr. Neutron” (in which a supposed alien agent of world domination must put up with tiresome suburban housewives); and “The Most Awful Family in Britain 1974 Competition” (in which the Garibaldi Family only manages to score a disappointing 15 on the disgustometer).

Given Cleese’s departure, the level of surrealism – attributable to the Michael Palin-Terry Jones writing team – was also quite high, such as a bit in which a post office official, dedicating a new mailbox, delivers a long, droning speech about its uses (“to post letters, post-cards and small packages”), which he then repeats in French (“la poste les lettres, les cartes-postales, et de petits paquets”), and then in German …


While the first three series of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” were sold to non-commercial public television in the United States (which broadcast them pretty much as-is), the six episodes of the fourth series were bought by the commercial network ABC, which intended to air them as two 90-minute late-night specials.

Unfortunately, in addition to cuts made for time (to accommodate about 24 minutes of commercials for each special), the network’s censors also slashed material for supposed “broadcast standards” – ludicrously eliminating words such as “damn,” “hell” and “naughty bits”; jokes (“He used to go through four Jehovah’s Witnesses a day”); and entire characters (one of the ordered cuts included “Entrance of man in wheelchair with sword in head, deleted to eliminate offensive references to handicapped individuals”). Punchlines were cut, making jokes incomprehensible. Python was surreal and stream-of-consciousness, but ABC’s Python was head-shaking.

The first “Wide World of Entertainment” special, broadcast on 3 October 1975, contained “The Golden Age of Ballooning,” “Mr. Neutron,” and “Party Political Broadcast.” When the Pythons later reviewed a tape of the show sent to them by Nancy Lewis, their U.S. manager, they were aghast, and sought an injunction against ABC’s planned broadcast of the second special.

Thanks to a clause buried in the Pythons’ original contract with the BBC, edits to the broadcasts were not permitted without their approval, and so they sued ABC at the United States Court House in New York’s Foley Square. Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin appeared in court on behalf of the group. They argued that the edited programs did not constitute “Monty Python,” and therefore broadcasting them would damage the group in the eyes of its audience. The edited programs could also potentially alienate a larger audience outside of the PBS stations’ markets (for whom the ABC shows represented their first exposure to the group), thus jeopardizing the future sale of Python books, records and films.

ABC, which held that its cuts did not distort the Pythons’ material, argued that dropping the planned broadcast of the second special would damage the network in the eyes of its affiliates and the public.

Eventually, the judge and all parties sat in the jury box to watch a screening of two versions of “Light Entertainment War”: first, as originally run on the BBC, and then as it would appear as part of “Wide World of Entertainment.” Nearly eight minutes were cut from the latter.

“I think their biggest mistake was letting us show our version before they showed their version,” said Gilliam. “Ours comes out, we get the laughs. Then they show their version and there’s no laughs. Not only has it been chopped up badly, but it’s old material, it’s not as funny as the first time. That’s just dumb! If they’d shown theirs first, maybe they would have got the laughs so when they showed our stuff maybe ours would have looked long-winded. [The feeling could have been], maybe ABC did the right thing – they weren’t trying to ruin it, the stuff deserved trimming.”

Judge Morris Lasker favored ABC in his decision partly because of the network’s claims of damages that could be incurred, and partly because of questions about copyright. [The Pythons held copyright over the scripts, but the BBC owned the copyright of the performances of those same scripts.] But by the time the case reached the U.S. Court of Appeals, ABC’s second compilation had already aired, on 26 December 1975, thus making moot its claims of potential damages. The appellate judges were then concentrating on matters of copyright, and whether ABC’s showing of “Monty Python” was a mislabeling of inferior goods, illegal under the Lanham Act.

Python and ABC (in conjunction with the BBC and Time-Life, the show’s distributor) ultimately reached a settlement, which awarded the Pythons full rights to all 45 TV episodes. The fourth series was eventually sold to PBS in the States, “naughty bits” intact.

A footnote: The ABC edit was nominated for a 1976 Emmy Award for Outstanding Special – Comedy-Variety or Music.

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Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus (1972)

“Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus”
Director: Ian MacNaughton
Producer: Alfred Biôlek, Thomas Woitkewitsch
Broadcast on ARD TV (Germany)

After a compilation of Python sketches won a second place prize at the Montreux Festival in 1971, Alfred Biôlek, a producer from Bavaria Films, contacted Ian MacNaughton to propose a Python show for German television, launching “Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus.”

Episode Highlights

Episode 1 (Original air date: 3 January 1972) – Carrying the Olympic Torch; Albrecht Durer Documentary; Anita Ekberg sings Albrecht Durer; “The Merchant of Venice” Performed by a Herd of Cows; The Flasher Animation; Little Red Riding Hood; Silly Olympics; Stake Your Claim; “The Lumberjack Song”; Bavarian Restaurant

Episode 2 (Original air date: 18 December 1972) – William Tell; Common Market Sex Maniacs; Sycophancy; National Fish Park; Mouse Stampede Animation; Chicken Mines of North Dakota; German vs. Greek Philosophers’ Football Match; Colin “Bomber” Harris Wrestles Himself; Hearing Aid; Happy Valley

The Making of

The Pythons ended up filming two 45-minute shows for Bavarian television, very close in style to the BBC series (except that both episodes were shot entirely on film, with no live studio audience). “Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus” was mostly all-new material, with only a few hints of their BBC work (Michael Palin does sing “The Lumberjack Song” in German). Terry Gilliam also contributed new animation, as well as opening titles that simply replaced English with German.

The first episode was performed in German, a language most of the Pythons could not actually speak. Dialogue, which had been translated for them into German, was recited parrot-fashion or read off cue cards.

“We sort of gaily said, ‘Oh, we’ll learn it phonetically,'” said Terry Jones. “It was only when we were doing the first shot when the full impact of what we were trying to do suddenly hit us, when Mike was having to be an Australian talking about the hinterbacken das ein kangaroo – the rectum of a kangaroo – and realizing you had to talk Parrot German with an Australian accent! We suddenly realized we had bitten off more than we could chew.”

When it came to shoot the second episode, the German producers requested that it be shot in English – not because the Pythons’ German was so bad, but because the first German-language film couldn’t be sold to other territories.

By its absence, the lack of a live audience reveals how effective was the Pythons’ skill in front of an audience, but there are compensating pleasures, including a nod to the Munich Olympics (featuring such track events as the 100-Yards for People With No Sense of Direction); a football match between Greek and German philosophers; a study of grizzled old men panning, Klondike-style, for chickens; and “Little Red Riding Hood,” starring John Cleese as the diminutive heroine.

Some of the material was later screened during the Pythons’ stage shows, and a fairy tale written by Cleese and his then-wife Connie Booth was adapted for “Monty Python’s Previous Record.”

The English-language “Fliegender Zirkus” was broadcast in the U.K. in October 1973, but both episodes were long unseen until their video release in the late 1990s.
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Parrot Sketch Not Included – 20 Years of Monty Python (1989)

“Parrot Sketch Not Included – 20 Years of Monty Python”
Producers: Charles Brand, Anne James
Running Time: 0:58
Original U.K. Broadcast Date: 5 October 1989 (BBC)
Original U.S. Broadcast Date: 17 March 1990 (Showtime)

Presented by Steve Martin, this anthology of some of the group’s best bits from “Flying Circus” and “Fliegender Zirkus” (minus the eponymous Parrot Sketch), compiled by John Lloyd, marked the 20th anniversary of the original series’ premiere. “Some people like them, I guess,” espoused Martin in the intro.


Among the clips (in whole or in part): William Tell; “Merchant of Venice” with cows (though it uses the German subtitles, so you have no idea they are actually reciting Shakespeare); Silly Olympics; Dennis Moore; How Not to Be Seen; the Exploding Blue Danube; World Forum; Greek-German Philosophers Football Match; RAF Banter; the Golden Age of Ballooning, with re-dubbed narration by Palin; French lecture on Flying Sheep; Conrad Poohs and His Dancing Teeth; Architects Sketch; Freemason; Minister of Silly Walks; Queen Victoria Handicap; Kitchen Sink Playwright; Fish Slapping Dance; A Man With a Stoat Through His Head; Vacuum Baby animation; Mrs. Niggerbaiter; Mosquito Hunters; Lovely Day animation; Sam Peckinpah’s “Salad Days”; Stabbing Victim; Boot Camp Hospital; Come Back to My Place; Barber Sketch and “Lumberjack Sketch”; Dictating a letter; World War II film trailer; Spam; the Man With a Tape Recorder Up His Nose; the Mouse Organ; the Mouse Problem; the House Hunters; Competing Documentaries; Escape Artist Pianist; Argument Clinic; It’s the Arts animation; the Spanish Inquisition; Tripping the Bus animation; the Visitors; Flying Harness; and Raymond Luxury Yacht.

“Well, there you have it – the best of Monty Python,” says Martin at the end. “Where are they now?

“They’re in this cupboard,” he gestures, opening a closet to reveal the six Pythons crammed inside. “Sad, isn’t it?”

The Making of

“Parrot Sketch Not Included” also did not include an original sketch filmed for the special with Martin and the six Pythons playing schoolboys. According to “The Pythons Autobiography,” the comedy bit was shot but then cut, to Terry Jones’ relief.

“Somebody had cobbled this thing together,” he said. “When I read it I thought, ‘This is just terrible, we can’t do this.’ … I’m very glad that they cut it.”

“The idea of getting Steve Martin and the Pythons together was a nice one,” said Michael Palin, “in the sense that we respected each other, but it was not necessarily the easiest way of producing the best comedy. That’s why I’ve always felt Python was at its best when it just was the group of us. It was quite a self-contained momentum. It couldn’t be exported, it couldn’t be grafted on to anyone else nor could anyone else be grafted on to Python.”

The special marked the final TV appearance of Graham Chapman, who was suffering from throat cancer. “Suddenly Graham was carried in,” said Eric Idle. “I think Steve had not seen him, nobody had bothered to warn Steve that he might be sick and he just looked at him. He was gaunt and being carried in, and what was good about it was everybody was there, everybody who ever worked for us in come capacity as working on it, and it was like a nostalgic last time to do this. We weren’t very good, we weren’t very funny, but it was a nice experience.”

“Of course when we shot on the day I don’t think we’d realized how ill he was,” said Jones. “He had this frame in order to keep him upright, he had to wear this frame, so he was very, very ill at that stage. It was extraordinary he actually got on camera. That was when we knew he was not at all well.”

Chapman died on October 4, 1989, the day before “Parrot Sketch Not Included,” was first aired.

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