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.