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Monty Python’s Flying Circus
CompleteFlyingCircusDVD.jpg
DVD cover – Monty Python members (l-r):
Back: Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Graham Chapman
Front row: Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Eric Idle
Format Sketch comedy
Created by Graham Chapman
John Cleese
Terry Gilliam
Eric Idle
Terry Jones
Michael Palin
Starring Graham Chapman
John Cleese
Terry Gilliam
Eric Idle
Terry Jones
Michael Palin
Carol Cleveland
Opening theme "Liberty Bell" by John Philip Sousa
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 45 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 30–40 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel BBC1 (1969–1973)
BBC2 (1974)
Original run 5 October 1969 – 5 December 1974
Chronology
Followed by And Now for Something Completely Different

Monty Python’s Flying Circus (known during the final series as just Monty Python) is an innovative, highly influential BBC TV sketch comedy programme from the Monty Python comedy team, and the group's initial claim to fame. The show has been noted for its surreality, risqué or innuendo-laden humour, sight gags, and sketches without punchlines. It also features the iconic animations of Terry Gilliam, which are often sequenced or merged with live action.

The first episode was recorded on 7 September and broadcast on 5 October 1969 on BBC One, with 45 episodes airing over four series from 1969 to 1974, plus two episodes for German TV.

The show often targets the idiosyncrasies of British life (especially professionals) and is at times politically charged. The members of Monty Python were highly educated (Terry Jones and Michael Palin are Oxford graduates; Eric Idle, John Cleese and Graham Chapman attended Cambridge; and American-born member Terry Gilliam is an Occidental College graduate; additionally, Cleese studied law and Chapman was a doctor), with their comedy often pointedly intellectual by way of numerous references to philosophers and literary figures. It followed and elaborated upon the style used by Spike Milligan in his groundbreaking series Q5, rather than the traditional sketch show format. The team intended their humour to be impossible to categorise, and succeeded so completely that the adjective "Pythonesque" was invented to define it, and later, similar material. (Jones once commented, jokingly, that the fact that they had inspired a new word in the dictionary shows how miserably they had failed.)

The Pythons play the majority of the series characters themselves, including the majority of the female characters, but occasionally they required an extra actor. Regular supporting cast members include Carol Cleveland (referred to by the team as the unofficial "Seventh Python"), Connie Booth (Cleese's first wife), Series Director Ian MacNaughton, Neil Innes (in the fourth series) and The Fred Tomlinson Singers (for musical numbers).

The series' famous theme song is the first segment of John Philip Sousa's The Liberty Bell, chosen because it was in the public domain, free to use without charge.

Contents

Title

The title Monty Python's Flying Circus was partly the result of the group's reputation at the BBC. Michael Mills, BBC's Head of Comedy, wanted their name to include the word circus because the BBC referred to the six members wandering around the building as a "circus" (in particular "Baron Von Took's Flying Circus"[1] after Barry Took, who had brought them to the BBC). The group added flying to make it sound less like an actual circus and more like something from World War I. Monty Python was added because they claimed it sounded like a really bad theatrical agent, the sort of person who would have brought them together, with Eric Idle suggesting Monty and John Cleese suggesting Python.

The BBC had rejected some other names put forward by the group including "Whither Canada?", "Ow! It's Colin Plint", "A Horse, a Spoon and a Bucket", "The Toad Elevating Moment" and "Owl Stretching Time".[2]

Recurring characters

In contrast to many other sketch comedy shows, Flying Circus made up new characters for each new sketch and had only a handful of recurring characters, many of whom were involved only in titles and linking sequences, including:

  • Arthur Putey (Palin), a socially inept, extremely dull man who appears most notably in the "Argument Clinic", "Marriage Guidance Counsellor", and "Ministry of Silly Walks" sketches. His sketches all take the form of an office appointment with an authority figure (usually played by Cleese, but occasionally Chapman), which are used to parody the officious side of the British establishment by having the professional be contained in the most bizarre field of expertise. In the "Marriage Guidance Counsellor" sketch a cowboy in black (played by Cleese) tells Putey to "hold his head high" and "be a man".
  • The Reverend Arthur Belling (played by both Chapman and Palin), is the vicar of St Loony Up The Cream Bun and Jam. He is insane and in one sketch, has an appeal to the insane people of the world to drive sane people insane and in another sketch politely joins a couple and "converts" them to his insane sect of Christianity.
  • The “It’s” man (Palin), a hermit with torn clothes and a long, unkempt beard who would appear at the beginning of the programme, often after performing a long or dangerous task, and introduce the show by just saying, “It’s...” before being abruptly cut off by the opening titles, which started with a Terry Gilliam animation sprouting the words 'Monty Python’s Flying Circus'. "It’s" was an early candidate for the title of the series.
  • Historical figures, such as Julius Caesar (Chapman), Napoleon (Jones), or a Viking (usually Gilliam) and appearing randomly in the midst of a sketch to interrupt it, a quick cut-away gag or as a line.
  • A BBC continuity announcer in a dinner jacket (Cleese), seated at a desk, often in highly incongruous locations, such as a forest or a beach. His line, “And now for something completely different,” was used variously as a lead-in to the opening titles and a simple way to link sketches (though Cleese is best known for it, the first time the phrase appeared in the show it was actually spoken by Idle in Episode 2 where he introduced a man with three buttocks). It eventually became the show’s catch phrase, serving as the title for the troupe’s first movie. In Series 3 the line was shortened to simply: "And now..."
  • The Gumbys, a group of slow-witted individuals identically attired in gumboots (from which they take their name), high-water trousers, braces, and round, wire-rimmed glasses, with toothbrush moustaches and handkerchiefs on the tops of their heads (a stereotype of the English, working class holidaymaker). They hold their arms awkwardly in front of them, speak slowly in loud, low voices punctuated by frequent grunts and groans, and have a fondness for bashing bricks together. They often complain that their brains hurt. All of them are surnamed 'Gumby' (D.P. Gumby, R.S. Gumby, etc.). Even though all Pythons played Gumbies in the show's run, the character is most closely associated with Michael Palin.
  • The-Knight-Who-Hits-People-With-A-Chicken. (Gilliam) An armoured knight carrying a raw chicken, who would hit characters over the head with it when they said something particularly corny. A regular during the first series, with another appearance in the third.
  • Mr. Badger (Idle), a Scotsman whose speciality was interrupting sketches ("I won't ruin your sketch, for a pound"). He has also been seen as an airplane hijacker whose demands grow increasingly eccentric, and was once interviewed (by Cleese) regarding his interpretation of the Magna Carta, which Badger believes was actually a piece of chewing gum on a bedspread in Dorset.
  • A nude organist (played in his first two appearances by Gilliam, later by Jones) who provided a brief fanfare to punctuate certain sketches (most notably on a sketch poking fun at Sale of the Century) or as yet another way to introduce the opening titles.
  • Mr. Eric Praline, an eccentric, disgruntled man who often wears a Pac-a-Mac, played by Cleese. His most famous appearance is in the "Dead Parrot" sketch. His name is only mentioned once on-screen, during the “Fish Licence” sketch of the episode entitled “Scott of the Antarctic”, but his attire (together with Cleese's distinctive, nasal performance) distinguishes him as a recognisable character who makes multiple appearances throughout the series. "Fish Licence" also reveals that he has multiple pets of wildly differing species, all of them named “Eric.”
  • A perverted moustachioed man, referred to in the published scripts as "Mr. Nudge" (Idle) who often appears bothering other, more uptight, characters (usually Jones). He is characterised by his constant nudging gestures and tone of conversation; cheeky innuendo. His most famous appearance is in Nudge Nudge, his initial sketch, though he appears in several later ones too, such as ruining a romantic evening between a man and a woman in "The Visitors" sketch.
  • Biggles (Chapman, and in one instance Jones), a WWI pilot. Derived from the famous series of fiction stories by W. E. Johns.
  • 'Pepperpots': screeching middle-aged, lower-middle class housewives played by the Pythons in frocks, engaging in surreal and inconsequential conversation. The Pythons played all their own women, unless the part called for a younger, more glamorous actress (in which case usually Carol Cleveland, but occasionally Connie Booth, would play the part). “Pepperpot” refers to what the Pythons believed was the typical body shape of middle-class British housewives, as explained by John Cleese in “How to Irritate People”. On the rare occasion these women were named, it was often for comic effect, featuring such names as Mrs. Scum, Mrs. Non-Gorilla or the duo "Mrs. Premise and Mrs. Conclusion." Terry Jones is perhaps most closely associated with the Pepperpots, but all the Pythons were frequent in performing the drag characters.
  • Luigi Vercotti (Palin), a mafioso entrepreneur and pimp, accompanied in his first appearance by his brother Dino (Jones). His most notable appearances are as Ron Obvious's manager, and as the owner of La Gondola restaurant. With his brother, he attempts to talk the Colonel into paying for protection of his Army base.
  • Brief black-and-white stock footage, lasting only two or three seconds, of middle-aged women sitting in an audience and applauding. The film was taken from a Women’s Institute meeting.
  • The Spanish Inquisition would burst into a previously unrelated sketch whenever their name was mentioned. Their catchphrase was "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!". They consist of Cardinal Ximinez (Palin), Cardinal Fang (Gilliam), and Cardinal Biggles (Jones). They premiered in series two and had sporadic cameos in series two and three.
  • Frenchmen: Cleese and Palin would sometimes dress in stereotypical French garb (striped shirt, tight pants, beret) and speak in garbled French, with incomprehensible accents. They had one fake moustache between them, and would stick it onto the other person's lip when it was his turn to speak. Usually, the Frenchmen gave lectures, such as to explain the flying sheep (from episode 2, "Sex and Violence") and the team-up of the Ministry of Silly Walks with its French equivalent to create "La Marche Futile".
  • Nightclub Host (Palin), who wears a red suit and is always smiling. He linked sketches by introducing them as nightclub acts, and was occasionally seen after the sketch, passing comment on it. In one link, he was the victim of the aforementioned armoured knight's assault with a chicken.
  • Spiny Norman, a Gilliam animation of a giant hedgehog. He's introduced in Series 2, Episode 1 ("Face the Press") in the Piranha Brothers sketch, where Dinsdale Piranha hallucinates him whenever he becomes depressed (Norman's size is proportional to Dinsdale's depression). Afterward he appears in the background of cityscapes in certain animations shouting "Dinsdale!"
  • Cardinal Richelieu (Palin), is always impersonated or impersonating. He is seen in court but turns out to be Ron Higgins, professional Cardinal Richelieu impersonator. He is also seen later as a historical impersonator as himself impersonating Petula Clark.
  • “The Colonel”, played by Chapman, who interrupts sketches when things become too silly, or when the Pythons rip off the army's slogan (and when non-BBC broadcast repeats need to be cut off for time constraints in syndication)
  • Ken Shabby, played by Palin, who starred in his own sketch in the first series and in the second series made a few brief cameos giving his thoughts on aftershave lotion and even his own religion.
  • Raymond Luxury Yacht, a person who is apparently one of Britain's leading skin specialists (played by Chapman). He generally wears an enormous fake nose made of polystyrene and his name is pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove". He appeared on an interview where the interviewer called him a "very silly man".

Some other characters have proven very memorable, despite the fact that they appear in only one-two episodes . For example, two characters that were often mentioned but never seen were Ann Haydon-Jones and her husband Pip, who are mentioned in several sketches, notably for losing a seat to Engelbert Humperdinck in the "Election Night Special" sketch.

Several characters appeared multiple times, played by different Pythons. For example, the insanely violent Police Constable Pan Am was played at different times by both Palin and Chapman, and Sgt. Harry "Snapper" Organs of Q division was portrayed by both Jones and Palin. Various historical figures often changed actors, such as Mozart (Cleese, then Palin), or Queen Victoria (Jones, then Palin, then all five Pythons in Series 4)

Some of the Pythons' targets recurred more frequently than others. Reginald Maudling, a contemporary Conservative politician, was singled out for perhaps the most consistent ridicule. The contemporary Secretary of State for Education and Science, future Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was occasionally mentioned (in particular, a reference to her brain being in her shin received a hearty laugh from the studio audience). Then-US President Richard Nixon was also frequently mocked, as was Conservative party leader Edward Heath, another later PM. The British police are also a favourite target; they often act extremely bizarrely or stupidly, are depicted as drag queens or abusive with their legal powers, and frequently yell out "What's all this, then?"

Popular character traits

Although there were few recurring characters, and the six cast members played many diverse roles, each had some character traits that he had perfected.

Chapman

Graham Chapman was well known for his roles as straight-faced men, of any age or class (frequently an authority figure such as a military officer, policeman or doctor) who could, at any moment, engage in “Pythonesque” maniacal behaviour and then return to their former sobriety (see sketches such as "An Appeal from the Vicar of St. Loony-up-the-Cream-Bun-and-Jam", “The One-Man Wrestling Match”, "Johann Gambolputty" and “The Argument Clinic"). He was also skilled in abuse, which he brusquely delivered in such sketches as "The Argument Clinic" and "Flying Lessons". His dignified demeanour was put to good use when he played the leading "straight man" in the Python feature films Holy Grail (as King Arthur) and Life of Brian (as the title character).

Cleese

John Cleese usually played ridiculous authority figures. Gilliam claims that Cleese is the funniest of the Pythons in drag, as he barely needs to be dressed up to look hilarious (see the "Mr. and Mrs. Git" sketch). Cleese is also well known for playing very intimidating maniacs (see the skit "Self Defence Against Fresh Fruit"). His character Mr. Praline, the put-upon consumer, featured in some of the most popular sketches, most famously in "Dead Parrot." One star turn that proved most memorable was "The Ministry of Silly Walks," where he worked for the eponymous government department. The sketch features some rather extravagant physical comedy from the notoriously tall, and loose-limbed, Cleese. Despite its popularity, particularly amongst American fans, this proved to be one sketch which Cleese himself particularly disliked, feeling that many of the laughs it generated were cheap and that no balance was provided by what could have been the true satirical centrepoint. Another of his trademarks is his over-the-top delivery of abuse, particularly his screaming "You bastard!"

Cleese often played foreigners with rather ridiculous accents, especially Frenchmen, most of the time with Palin. Sometimes this is extended to the usage of actual French or German (such as "La marche futile" (end of the "Ministry of Silly Walks" sketch, "The funniest joke in the World" or "Hitler in Minehead"), but still with a very heavy accent (or impossible to understand, as for example Hitler's speech).

Gilliam

The famous Python Foot can here be seen in its original format in the bottom left corner of “An Allegory of Venus and Cupid”

Many Python sketches were linked together by the cut-out animations of Terry Gilliam, including the opening titles featuring the iconic giant foot that became a symbol of all that was “Pythonesque.” Gilliam’s unique visual style was characterised by sudden and dramatic movements and errors of scale set in surrealist landscapes populated by engravings of large buildings with elaborate architecture, grotesque Victorian gadgets, machinery, and people cut from old Sears Roebuck catalogues, supported by Gilliam’s airbrush illustrations and many famous pieces of art. All of these elements were combined in incongruous ways to obtain new and humorous meanings in the tradition of surrealist collage assemblies.

The surreal nature of the series allowed Gilliam’s animation to go off on bizarre, imaginative tangents. Some running gags derived from these animations were a giant hedgehog named Spiny Norman who appeared over the tops of buildings shouting, “Dinsdale!”, further petrifying the paranoid Dinsdale Piranha, and The Foot of Cupid, the giant foot that suddenly squashed things. The foot is appropriated from the figure of Cupid in Agnolo Bronzino’s “An Allegory of Venus and Cupid”.

Notable Gilliam sequences for the show include The Killer Cars, Conrad Poohs and his Dancing Teeth, the rampage of the cancerous black spot, and a giant cat that stomps its way through London, destroying everything in its path.

Initially only hired to be the animator of the series, Gilliam was not thought of (even by himself) as an on-screen performer at first. The others felt they owed him something and so he sometimes appeared before the camera, generally in the parts that no-one else wanted to play (generally because they required a lot of make-up or involved uncomfortable costumes). The most recurrent of these was The-Knight-Who-Hits-People-With-A-Chicken. A knight in armour who would walk on-set and hit another character on the head with a plucked chicken when they said something really corny. Some of Gilliam's other on-screen portrayals included:

  • A man with a stoat through his head
  • Cardinal Fang in The Spanish Inquisition sketch
  • A dandy wearing only a mask, bikini underwear and a cape, this in "The Visitors" sketch from episode 1.09
  • A hotel clerk in The Cycling Tour episode.

Despite (or, according to Cleese in the DVD commentary for Life of Brian, perhaps because of) an obviously deficient acting ability in comparison to the others, he soon became distinguished as the go-to member for the most obscenely grotesque characters. This carried over into the Holy Grail feature film, where Gilliam played King Arthur's hunchbacked page "Patsy."

Idle

Eric Idle is perhaps best remembered for his roles as a cheeky, suggestive, slightly pervertedplayboy” (see sketches such as “Nudge Nudge"), a crafty, slick salesman (see the “Door-to-Door Joke Salesman”, “Encyclopedia Salesman,” and the shop keeper who loves to haggle in Monty Python’s Life of Brian). He is acknowledged as 'the master of the one-liner' by the other Pythons. He is also considered the best singer/songwriter in the group, for example writing and performing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from The Life of Brian. Unlike Jones' high level in drag, he often played female characters in a more straightforward way, only altering his voice slightly, as opposed to the falsetto shrieking used by the others. His appearances as upper-class, middle-aged females (such as the main woman in the "Reenactment of the Battle Of Pearl Harbor" sketch or the sexually-repressed Protestant wife in the "Every Sperm" sketch from "The Meaning of Life") are his most notable.

Younger than his colleagues and not from an already-established writing partnership prior to Python, Idle wrote his sketches alone.

Jones

Although all of the Pythons played women, Terry Jones is renowned by the rest to be 'the best Rat-Bag woman in the business'. His portrayal of a middle-aged housewife was louder, shriller and more dishevelled than that of any of the other Pythons (see “Dead Bishop” sketch, Spam/Lumberjack song sketch, or his role as Brian's mother Mandy in Life of Brian, Mrs. Linda S-C-U-M in “Mr. Neutron” or in "Spot The Brain Cell," or as the restaurateur in “Spam"). He also often played upper-class reserved men, such as in the famous “Nudge, Nudge” sketch and the "It's A Man's Life" sketch, and incompetent authority figures (Harry "Snapper" Organs). Generally, he deferred to the others as a performer, but proved himself behind the scenes, where he would eventually end up pulling most of the strings.

Palin

While all of the Pythons excel at comic acting, Michael Palin was regarded by the other members of the troupe as the one with the widest range, equally adept as a straight man or wildly over the top character. He portrayed many working-class northerners, often portrayed in a disgusting light (see “The Funniest Joke in the World” sketch, or the “Every Sperm Is Sacred” segment of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life). On the one hand, he played weak-willed, put-upon men such as the husband in the Marriage Guidance Counsellor sketch, or the boring accountant in the “Lion Tamer” sketch. He was equally at home as the indefatigable Cardinal Ximinez of Spain in The Spanish Inquisition sketch. Another high-energy character that Palin portrays is the slick TV show host, constantly smacking his lips together and generally being over-enthusiastic (as in the "Blackmail" sketch) but with an underlying hint of self-revulsion (as when, in one sketch, he wipes his oily palms on his jacket, makes a disgusted face, and then continues). One of his most famous creations was the shopkeeper who attempts to sell useless goods by very weak attempts at being sly and crafty, which are invariably spotted by the customer (often played by Cleese) because the defects in the products are inherently obvious (see the “Dead Parrot”, the “Cheese Shop"); his spivvy club owner, Luigi Vercotti, in the “Piranha Brothers” and “Army Protection Racket” is another classic variant on this type. Palin is also well known for his leading role in the The Lumberjack Song. He also often plays heavy-accented foreigners (mostly French (as in "La marche futile") or German ("Hitler in Minehead")), usually alongside Cleese. In one of the last episodes, he even delivers a full speech, first in English, then in French, then in German (with an even heavier accent). Despite his wide range, Palin is the Python who probably played the fewest female roles. This is perhaps due to the suggestion that Palin in drag was a more convincing woman than the rest. (Among his portrayals of women are: Queen Victoria in the Michael Ellis Episode, Debbie Katzenberg the American in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life or as a rural idiot's wife in the Idiot in rural society sketch)

The ‘lost’ sketches

John Cleese was reportedly unhappy with the use of scatological humour in Python sketches. The final episode of the third series of the show included a sketch called ‘Wee-Wee Wine Tasting’, which was censored following the BBC's and Cleese’s objections. The sketch involves a man taking a tour of a wine cellar where he samples many of the wine bottles' contents, which are actually urine. Also pulled out along with the ‘Wee-Wee’ sketch (for reasons unknown) was a sketch where Cleese had hired a sculptor to carve a statue of him. The sculptor (Chapman) had made an uncanny likeness of Cleese, except that his nose was extremely long, almost Pinocchio size. The only clue that this sketch was cut out of the episode was in the “Sherry-Drinking Vicar” sketch, where, towards the back of the room, a bust with an enormously long nose sits.

Some material originally recorded went missing later, such as the use of the word “masturbation” in the Summarize Proust sketch (which was muted during the first airing, and later cut out entirely) or “What a silly bunt” in the Travel Agent sketch (which featured a character [Idle] who has a speech impediment that makes him pronounce "C"s as "B"s),[3] which was cut before the sketch ever went to air. However, when this sketch was included in the "Live at the Hollywood Bowl" film, the line remained intact.

Some sketches were deleted in their entirety and were only recently recovered. One such sketch is the Political Choreographer sketch, where a Conservative Party spokesman (Cleese) delivers a party political broadcast before getting up and dancing, being coached by a choreographer (Idle), and being joined by a chorus of spokesmen dancing behind him. The camera passes two Labour Party spokesmen practicing ballet, and an animation featuring Edward Heath in a tutu. Once deemed lost, a home recorded tape of this sketch, captured from a broadcast from a Buffalo, New York PBS TV station, recently turned up on Youtube. It can be seen as an extra on the new Region 2/4 eight-disc "The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus" DVD set .

Another is the "Satan" animation following the "Cartoon Religion" piece and preceding to "How Not To Be Seen", which had been edited out of the official tape. Three frames of the animation can be seen at the end of the episode, wherein that particular episode is repeated in fastforward. A black and white 16 mm film print has since turned up (found by a private film collector in the USA) showing the animation in its entirety.

At least two references to cancer were censored, both during the second series. In the sixth episode ("It's A Living" or "School Prizes"), Carol Cleveland's narration of a Gilliam cartoon suddenly has a male voice dub "gangrene" over the word cancer (although the word "cancer" was used unedited when the animation appeared in the movie And Now for Something Completely Different). Another reference was removed from the "Conquistador Coffee Campaign" sketch in the second series' eleventh episode "How Not to Be Seen", although a reference to leprosy remained intact. This line has also been recovered from the same 16 mm film print as the above mentioned "Satan" animation.

A restored Region 2 DVD release of Series 1–4 was released in 2007, with no additional features.

Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus

Two episodes were produced in German for WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk), both entitled Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus (the literal German translation of the English title), today available on DVD. While visiting the UK in the early 1970s, German entertainer and TV producer Alfred Biolek had caught notice of the Pythons, and excited by their innovative, absurd sketches, he invited them over to Germany in 1971 and 1972 to write two special German episodes of their show and act in them.

The first episode, advertised as Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus: Blödeln für Deutschland ("Monty Python's Flying Circus: Clowning around for Germany"), was produced in 1971, and performed in German. The second episode, advertised as Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus: Blödeln auf die feine englische Art ("Monty Python's Flying Circus: Clowning around in the distinguished English way"), produced in 1972, was recorded in English and for its broadcast in Germany was dubbed in German. The original English recording was transmitted by the BBC in October 1973.

Stage incarnations

At several stages during and after the television series, the members of Monty Python embarked on a series of stage shows. These mostly consisted of sketches from the series, but also included other famous sketches that had preluded them, such as the Four Yorkshiremen sketch, which Cleese and Chapman had written, and performed, for At Last the 1948 Show. It subsequently became part of the live Python repertoire. The shows also included songs from collaborator Neil Innes.

Recordings of three of these stage shows have subsequently appeared as separate works:

  1. Monty Python Live at Drury Lane (aka Monty Python Live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), released as their fifth album in 1974
  2. Monty Python Live at City Center, released in 1976
  3. Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, released as a film in 1982.

In 2005 a troupe of actors headed by Rémy Renoux, translated and 'adapted' a stage version of Monty Python’s Flying Circus into French. Usually the original actors defend their material very closely, but given in this case the 'adaptation' and also the translation into French (with subtitles), the gang supported this production. The adapted material sticks reasonably close to the original text, mainly deviating when it comes to ending a sketch, something the Python members themselves changed many times over the course of their stage performances.[4][5] Language differences also (understandably) occur in the lyrics of several songs. For example, ‘sit on my face’ (which translated into French would be “Asseyez-vous sur mon visage") becomes 'come in my mouth'.[citation needed]

The landing of The Flying Circus

John Cleese left the show after the third series, so he did not appear in the final six episodes that made up series four (other than a brief voice-over for one of Gilliam's animations in episode 41 "Michael Ellis"), although he did receive writing credits where applicable (for sketches derived from the writing sessions for Holy Grail). Neil Innes and Douglas Adams are notable as the only two non-Pythons to get writing credits in the show — Innes for songs in episodes 40, 42 and 45 (and for contributing to a sketch in episode 45), and Adams for contributing to a sketch about a doctor whose patients are stabbed by his nurse, in episode 45. Innes frequently appeared in the Pythons' stage shows and can also be seen as Sir Robin's lead minstrel in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and (briefly) in Life of Brian. Adams had become friends with Chapman, where they later went to write the failed sketch show pilot Out of the Trees.

Although Cleese stayed for the third series, he claimed that he and Chapman only wrote two original sketches (“Dennis Moore” and “Cheese Shop"), whereas everything else derived from previous material. Either the third series, or the fourth series, made without Cleese, are often seen as the weakest and most uneven of the four series, by both fans and the Pythons themselves. However, with the fourth series the Pythons started making episodes into more coherent stories which would be a precursor to their films, and featured Terry Gilliam onscreen more.

The final episode of Series 4 was recorded on 16 November and broadcast on 5 December 1974. That year Devillier-Donegan Enterprises syndicated the series in the United States among PBS stations, and the show premiered on KERA-TV in Dallas, Texas. It was an instant hit, rapidly garnering an enormous loyal cult following nationwide that surprised even the Pythons themselves, who did not believe that their humour was exportable without being tailored specifically, even without a language barrier.

When several episodes were broadcast by ABC in their “Wide World of Entertainment” slot in 1975 the episodes were re-edited, thus losing the continuity and flow intended in the originals. When ABC refused to stop treating the series in this way, the Pythons took them to court. Initially the court ruled that their artistic rights had indeed been violated, but it refused to stop the ABC broadcasts. However, on appeal the team gained control over all subsequent US broadcasts of its programmes. The case also led to their gaining the rights from the BBC once their original contracts ended at the end of 1980 (a unique arrangement at the time).

In April 2006, Monty Python's Flying Circus returned to non-cable American television on PBS. In connection with this, PBS commissioned Monty Python's Personal Best, a six-episode series featuring each Python’s favourite sketches, plus a tribute to Graham Chapman, who is deceased. Starting in 2008, BBC America started to air the series, extended to 40 minutes in order to include commercials, and in 2009, the series moved, without commercials, to the Independent Film Channel, which also presented a six-part documentary Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyers Cut), produced by Terry Jones' son, Bill Jones.

Awards and honours

In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted for by industry professionals, Monty Python’s Flying Circus placed fifth.

TIME magazine included the show on its 2007 list of the "100 Best TV Shows of All Time." [6]

In a list of the 50 Greatest British Sketches released by Channel 4 in 2005,[7] five Monty Python sketches made the list:

Dead Parrot is the number 1 sketch in Nerve.com's 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches of All Time. The Four Yorkshiremen sketch also made the list, at number 46. Though the sketch originated on At Last the 1948 Show, the Pythons have used the sketch during live shows.

Legacy

The Monty Python troupe produced a number of other stage and screen productions together following the production of this series. See Monty Python for a comprehensive list.

In computing, the terms spam and the Python programming language[8] are both derived from the series.

Episodes

See also

References

Bibliography

  • Landy, Marcia (2005). Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3103-3. 
  • Larsen, Darl. Monty Python's Flying Circus: An Utterly Complete, Thoroughly Unillustrated, Absolutely Unauthorized Guide to Possibly All the References From Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson to Zambesi. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2008. ISBN 0810861313

Notes

  1. ^ The term flying circus first being applied to Baron von Richthofen's Jagdgeschwader 1
  2. ^ Palin, Michael (2008). Diaries 1969–1979 : the Python Years / Michael Palin. Griffin. pp. 650. ISBN 0312384882. 
  3. ^ "Travel Agent / Watney's Red Barrell". www.orangecow.org. http://www.orangecow.org/pythonet/sketches/package.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  4. ^ "Monty Python learns French". BBC Online News (BBC). 2003-08-03. Archived from the original on 2003-08-06. http://web.archive.org/web/20030806004915/http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3112625.stm. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  5. ^ Clive Davis (31 January 2005). "Monty Python's Flying Circus – At Last, in French". The Times Online (News International). http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,14936-1464143,00.html. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  6. ^ "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". Time.com. http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/completelist/0,,1651341,00.html. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  7. ^ "Channel 4’s 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches". Channel4.com. http://www.channel4.com/entertainment/tv/microsites/G/greatest/comedy_sketches/results.html. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  8. ^ General Python FAQ

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

And now for something completely different…

Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969–1974) was British sketch comedy television show

Contents

Season 1

Whither Canada? [1.01]

Whizzo Butter

Pepperpot #1: I can't tell the difference between Whizzo butter and this dead crab.
Interviewer: Yes, we find that 9 out of 10 British housewives can't tell the difference between Whizzo Butter and a dead crab.
Various Pepperpots: It's true… We can't… No.
Pepperpot #2: Here. Here! You're on television, aren't you?
Interviewer: [humbly] Yes, yes…
Pepperpot #2: He does the thing with one of those silly women who can't tell Whizzo Butter from a dead crab.
Various Pepperpots: Yeah, yeah.
Pepperpot #3: You try that around here, young man, and we'll slit your face.
Pepperpot #4: [quietly] Yeah, with a razor.

It's the Arts

Interviewer: Get your own arts programme, you fairy!

The Funniest Joke in the World

Voiceover: It was a fantastic success. Over 60,000 times as powerful as Britain's great pre-war joke [Cut to stock footage of Neville Chamberlain returning from Munich and holding up the Munich Agreement, the "this is peace in our time"-bit.], and one which Hitler just couldn't match.
[Cut to stock footage of Hitler giving a speech.]
Hitler: [subtitle] My dog's got no nose!
Soldier: [subtitle] How does he smell?
Hitler: [subtitle] Awful!
. . .
Narrator: In 1945, peace broke out. It was the end of the Joke. Joke warfare was banned at a special session of the Geneva Convention, and in 1950 the last remaining copy of the joke was laid to rest here in the Berkshire countryside, never to be told again.

Sex and Violence [1.02]

Ken: I'll tell you what's wrong with you: your head's addled with novels and poems! You come home reeking of Chateau L'Auteur! And look what you've done to mother! She's worn out from meeting film stars, attending premieres, and giving gala luncheons!
Dad: THERE'S NAUGHT WRONG WITH GALA LUNCHES, LAD! I've had more gala luncheons than you've had hot dinners! [grabs arm and screams]
Mum: Oh no!
Ken: What is it?
Mum: Oh, it's his writer's cramp!
Ken: You never told me about this...
Mum: No, we didn't like to, Kenny.
Dad: I'm all right! I'm all right, woman. Just get him out of here.
Mum: Oh Ken! You'd better go ...
Ken: All right. I'm going.
Dad: After all we've done for him...
Ken: One day you'll realize there's more to life than culture... There's dirt, and smoke, and good honest sweat!
Dad: Get out! Get out! Get OUT! You ... LABOURER!

Announcer: And the results of Epilogue: God exists by two falls to a submission.

How to Recognise Different Types of Trees From Quite a Long Way Away [1.03]

Arthur Nudge: Eh? know what I mean? Know what I mean? Nudge, nudge! Know what I mean? Say no more! A nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat, say no more, say no more!
Man: Look, are you insinuating something?
Arthur Nudge: Oh, no no no no... yes.
Man: Well?
Arthur Nudge: Well, you're a man of the world, squire... you've been there, you've been around.
Man: What do you mean?
Arthur Nudge: Well, I mean, you've done it... you've slept... with a lady.
Man: Yes.
Arthur Nudge: What's it like?

Bicycle Repair Man

Superman One: Oh look... is it a stockbroker?
Superman Two: Is it a quantity Surveyor?
Superman Three: Is it a church warden?
All Supermen: NO! It's Bicycle Repair Man!

Owl Stretching Time [1.04]

Teacher: The great advantage of the tiger in unarmed combat is that he eats not only the raspberry-laden foe but also the raspberries.

Customer: There IS something going on!
Shopkeeper: There is nothing going on. Is there something going on?
[Man with machinegun enters]
Gunman: No, there is nothing going on.
[Man with machinegun leaves]
Shopkeeper: See, there's nothing going on.

Man's Crisis of Identity in the Latter Half of the Twentieth Century [1.05]

Ecyclopedia Salesman: Burglar! [rings again] Burglar!
[woman appears at other side of door]
Woman: Yes?
Encyclopedia Salesman: Burglar, madam.
Woman: What do you want?
Encyclopedia Salesman: I want to come in and steal a few things, madam.
Woman: Are you an encyclopaedia salesman?
Encyclopedia Salesman: No madam, I'm a burglar, I burgle people.
Woman: I think you're an encyclopaedia salesman.
Encyclopedia Salesman: Oh I'm not, open the door, let me in please.
Woman: If I let you in you'll sell me encyclopaedias.
Encyclopedia Salesman: I won't, madam. I just want to come in and ransack the flat. Honestly.
Woman: Promise? No encyclopaedias?
Encyclopedia Salesman: None at all.
Woman: All right. [she opens door] You'd better come in then.
Encyclopedia Salesman: Mind you, I don't know whether you've really considered the advantages of owning a really fine set of modern encyclopaedias... You know, they can really do you wonders.

Policeman: I must warn you, sir, that outside I have police dog Josephine, who is not only armed and trained to sniff out certain substances but is also a junkie.

It's the Arts [1.06]

Mr. Figgis: Why is it the world never remembered the name of Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwurstle-gerspurten-mit-tzwei-macheluber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shoenendanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm?

Constable Henry "Snapper" Organs: Now, this item, "Crunchy Frog". Am I to understand there's a real frog in here?
Whizzo Chocolate Company owner: Yes, a little one.
Constable Henry "Snapper" Organs: What sort of frog?
Whizzo Chocolate Company owner: A dead frog.
Constable Henry "Snapper" Organs: Is it cooked?
Whizzo Chocolate Company owner: No.
Constable Henry "Snapper" Organs: What, a raw frog?!
Whizzo Chocolate Company owner: We use only the finest baby frogs, dew picked and flown from Iraq, cleansed in finest quality spring water, lightly killed, and then sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple smooth treble cream milk chocolate envelope and lovingly frosted with glucose.
Constable Henry "Snapper" Organs: That's as may be — it's still a frog! Do you even take the bones out?
Whizzo Chocolate Company owner: If we took the bones out, it wouldn't be crunchy, would it?

Full Frontal Nudity [1.08]

Mr. Praline: It's not pining, it's passed on! This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late parrot! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies! It's rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-parrot!

The Ant, an Introduction [1.09]

Woman: I object to all this sex on the television. I mean, I keep falling off.

Bevis: I didn't want to be a barber anyway. I wanted to be... a lumberjack!

Bevis: I always preferred the outdoor life…hunting…shooting…fishing…getting out there with a gun and slaughtering a few of God’s creatures.

Untitled [1.10]

Vocational Guidance Counselor Sketch

Counselor: Well, er, yes Mr. Anchovy, but you see your report here says that you are an extremely dull person. You see, our experts describe you as an appallingly dull fellow, unimaginative, timid, lacking in initiative, spineless, easily dominated, no sense of humour, tedious company and irrepressibly drab and awful. And whereas in most professions these would be considerable drawbacks, in chartered accountancy, they're a positive boon.

The Agatha Christie sketch [1.11]

Inspector Tiger:: This house is surrounded. I'm afraid I must not ask anyone to leave the room. No, I must ask nobody ... no, I must ask everybody to... I must not ask anyone to leave the room. No one must be asked by me to leave the room. No, no one must ask the room to leave. I ... I ... ask the room shall by someone be left. Not. Ask nobody the room somebody leave shall I. Shall I leave the room? Everyone must leave the room... as it is... with them in it. Phew. Understand?
Colonel Pickering: You don't want anybody to leave the room.
Inspector Tiger: [clicking fingers to indicate Colonel Pickering has hit the nail on the head] Now, alduce me to introlow myslef. I'm sorry. Alself me to myduce introlow myslef. Introme-to-lose mlow alself. Alme to you introself mylowduce. Excuse me a moment. (bangs himself on the side of the head) Allow me to introduce myself. I'm afraid I must ask that no one leave the room. Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Inspector Tiger.
Everybody: Tiger?
Inspector Tiger: [whirling around] WHERE? WHERE?

Chief Constable There'samanbehindyou: Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Chief Constable There'samanbehindyou.
Everybody: There's a man behind you?
Chief Constable There'samanbehindyou: No, you're not going to fool me with that one.

The Naked Ant [1.12]

Mr. Bimmler: Pleased to meet you, squire. I also am not of Minehead being born but I in your Peterborough Lincolnshire was given birth to. But am staying in Peterborough Lincolnshire house all time during vor, due to jolly old running sores, and vos unable to go in the streets or to go visit football matches or go to Nuremburg. Ha ha. Am retired vindow cleaner and pacifist, without doing war crimes. Oh... and am glad England vin Vorld Cup. Bobby Charlton. Martin Peters. And eating I am lots of chips and fish and hole in the toads and Dundee cakes on Piccadilly Line, don't you know old chap, vot! And I vos head of Gestapo for 10 years. [Mr. Hilter elbows him in the ribs] Ah! Five years! [Hilter elbows him again, harder] Nein! No! Oh. NOT head of Gestapo AT ALL! I was not, I make joke!

Announcer: This man, he doesn't know when he's beaten! He doesn't know when he's winning, either. He has no… sort of… sensory apparatus…

Intermission [1.13]

Head Waiter: This is a vegetarian restaurant — we serve no meat of any kind. We're not only proud of that, we're smug about it.

Season 2

Face the Press [2.1]

Interviewer: Minister, in your plan, "A Better Britain For Us", you promised to build 88 thousand million billion houses a year in the greater London area alone. In fact, you've built only three in the last 15 years.

The Piranha Brothers

Vince: One day, I was sitting at home, threatening the kids, when this tank drives up. One of Dinsdale's boys gets out all nice and friendly like, and says Dinsdale wants to have a talk with me. So, he chains me to the back of the tank, and takes me for a scrape round to Dinsdale's place. Dinsdale's there in the conversation pit with Doug, Charles Paisley the Baby Crusher, a couple of film producers and a fellow called Kierkegaard who just sits there, biting the heads off whippets. And Dinsdale says 'I hear you've been a naughty boy, Clement', and he splits my nostrils open, saws my leg off and pulls my liver out. And I says, 'My name's not Clement', and then he loses his temper and nails my head to the floor.

Interviewer: Was there anything unusual about Dinsdale?
Woman: Certainly not! He was perfectly normal in every way! Except... inasmuch as he thought he was being followed by a giant hedgehog named Spiny Norman.

The Spanish Inquisition [2.2]

Reg: Mr. Wentworth just told me to come in here and say that there was trouble at the mill, that's all - I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition!
[Three men in red uniforms burst through the door]
Cardinal Ximinez: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

"It's" Man: I would tax Raquel Welch. I have a feeling she'd tax me.

Judge Kilbraken: [referring to his death sentence for contempt of court] Blimey! I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition.
[The whole court expectantly looks towards the door. Cut to the Inquisition running out of a house in suburbia and leaping onto a bus]
Ximinez: Two, er, three to the Old Bailey please.
[Credits start]
Biggles: Look they've started the credits.
Ximinez: Hurry. Hurry. Hurry.
Biggles: Come on hurry. Hurry!
Ximinez: There's the lighting credit, only five left. Hell, it's the producer - quick!
[The Inquistion leaps of the bus and bursts through into the courtroom]
Ximinez: Nobody expects the Spa... [Smash cut to a frame saying "The End"] Oh bugger!

Déjà Vu [2.3]

Psychiatrist Milkman: Mrs. Ratbag, if you don't mind me saying so, you're badly in need of an expensive course of psychiatric treatment. Now, I'm not going to say that a trip to our dairy will cure you, but it will give hundreds of lower-paid workers a good laugh.

The Architect Sketch [2.4]

Mr. Wiggin: This is a 12-story block combining classical neo-Georgian features with the efficiency of modern techniques. The tenants arrive here and are carried along the corridor on a conveyor belt in extreme comfort, past murals depicting Mediterranean scenes, towards the rotating knives. The last twenty feet of the corridor are heavily soundproofed. The blood pours down these chutes and the mangled flesh slurps into these...
Client 1: Excuse me.
Mr. Wiggin: Yes?
Client 1: Did you say 'knives'?
Mr. Wiggin: Rotating knives, yes.
Client 2: Do I take it that you are proposing to slaughter our tenants?
Mr. Wiggin: ...Does that not fit in with your plans?
Client 1: Not really. We asked for a simple block of flats.

Live from the Grill-o-Mat [2.5]

Man: Hello, I'd like to buy a chicken, please.
Vendor: Don't come here with that posh talk, you nasty, stuck-up twit!
Man: I beg your pardon?
Vendor: A chicken. Certainly, sir.
Man: And how much does that come to per pound, my good fellow?
Vendor: Per pound, you slimy trollop? What kind of a ponce are you?
Man: I'm sorry?
Vendor: Four and six a pound, sir. Nice and ready for roasting.
Man: I see. And I'd like to purchase some stuffing in addition, please.
Vendor: Use your own, you great poofy poll-nagger!
Man: What?
Vendor: Certainly, sir, some stuffing.
Man: Eh, thank you.
Vendor: Oh, "thank you", says the great queen, like a la-di-da pooftah!
Man: Excuse me?
Vendor: Not at all, sir, call again!
Man: Excuse me...
Vendor: What is it now, you great pillock?!
Man: I can't help but notice that you insult me, and then you're polite to me, alternately.
Vendor: Oh, I'm terribly sorry to hear that, sir!
Man: Oh, that's all right. It doesn't really matter.
Vendor: Tough titty if it did, you nasty, spotted prancer!

It's A Living [2.06]

Announcer: And we move to Bristol where they have a special, Very Silly candidate...
Election Offical: Malcom Peter-Brian-Telescope-Adrian-Umbrella Stand-Jasper-Wednesday-Stoat Gobbler-John-Raw Vegetable-Artur-Norman-Michael-[honk]-Featherstone-Smith- [whistle]-Northgot-Edwards-Harris-[bang]-WOOOOOO-Mason-chuffchuffchuffchuff-Frampton-Jones-Fruit Bat-Gilbert-we'll keep a welcome in the-[bang bang bang]-Williams-If I could Walk That Way-Jenkin-[vvvt vvt vvvt vvvvewwww]-Tiger Drawers-Pratt-Thompson-Raindrops keep falling on my head-Darcy-Carter-[honk]-Pussycat-Don't sleep in the subway-Barton-Mannering-[squeek]-mmmmm-Smith...
Anouncer: Very Silly Party.
Election Offical: Two votes.

The Attila the Hun Show (2.7)

Cyril: In the debate, a spokesman accused the goverment of being silly and doing not at all good things. The member accepted this in the spirit of healthy criticism, but denied that he had ever been naughty with a choir boy. Angry shouts of 'What about the watermelon then?' were ordered then by the speaker to be stricken from the record and put into a brown paper bag in the lavvy. Any further interruptions would be cut up and distributed amongst the poor. For the Government, a front-bench spokesman said the Agricultural Tariff would have to be raised, and he fancied a bit. Futhermore, he argued, this would give a large boost to farmers, and a great deal of fun to him, his friends, and Miss Moist of Knightsbridge. From the back benches there were opposition shouts of 'Postcards for sale' and a healthy cry of 'Who likes a sailor then?' from the minister without portfolio. Replying, the Shadow Minister said he could no longer deny the rumors, but he and the Dachshund were very happy. And in any case, he argued, rhubarb was cheap, and what was the harm in a sauna bath?

Archaeology Today [2.08]

Hank Spim: I love animals, that's why I like to kill 'em.

Reverend Belling: There are a great many people in the country today, who through no fault of their own, are sane. Some of them were born sane, while others became sane later in their lives. It is up to people like us, who are out of our tiny minds, to help them.

How to Recognise Different Parts of the Body [2.09]

Bruce sketch

Bruce: Rule 1 — no pooftahs. Rule 2 — no member of the faculty is to maltreat the abos in any way whatsoever if there's anyone watching. Rule 3 — no pooftahs. Rule 4 — I don't want to catch any of you not drinking after lights out. Rule 5 — no pooftahs. Rule 6 — there is NO Rule 6. Rule 7 — no pooftahs!

Exploding Penguin sketch

Woman 1: It's funny that penguin being there, isn't it? What's it doing there?
Woman 2: Standing.
Woman 1: I can see that! Where did it come from?
Woman 2: Perhaps it comes from next door.
Woman 1: Penguins don't come from next door; they come from the Antarctic!
Woman 2: BURMA!
Woman 1: Why'd you say "Burma"?
Woman 2: I panicked.
. . .
TV Announcer: It's just gone eight o'clock and time for the penguin on top of your television set to explode.
[The penguin explodes]
Woman 1: How did he know that was going to happen?
TV Announcer: It was an inspired guess.

Scott of the Antarctic [2.10]

Vanilla Hoare: Look, you crumb bum, I'm a star. Star, star, star! I don't get a million dollars to act out of a trench. I played Miss St John the Baptist in a trench, and I played Miss Napoleon Bonaparte in a trench, and I played Miss Alexander Fleming in a furrow, so if you want this scene played out of a trench, well you just get yourself a goddamn stuntman! I played Miss Galileo in a groove and I played Mrs Jesus Christ in a geological syncline!

How Not To Be Seen [2.11]

Fourth City Gent: Well, I've been in the city for 30 years and I've never once regretted being a nasty, greedy, cold-hearted, avaricious money-grubber... er, Conservative!

Reverend Gumby: I believe in peace, and bashing two bricks together!

Silly Reverend: We at the Church of the Divine Loony believe in the power of prayer to turn the face purple!

Spam [2.12]

Hungarian Phrasebook

Narrator: In 1970 the British Empire lay in ruins, foreign nationals frequented the streets - many of them Hungarians (not the streets - the foreign nationals). Anyway, many of these Hungarians went into tobacconists shops to buy cigarettes...

Hungarian: My hovercraft is full of eels.

Spam

Mrs Bun: Have you got anything without SPAM?
Waitress: Well, there's SPAM, egg, sausage, and SPAM; that's not got much SPAM in it.
Mrs Bun: I don't want any SPAM!
Mr Bun: Why can't she have egg, bacon, SPAM, and sausage?
Mrs Bun: That's got SPAM in it!
Mr Bun: Hasn't got as much SPAM in it as SPAM, egg, sausage, and SPAM, has it?
Vikings: [singing] SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM... Lovely SPAM! Wonderful SPAM!

Royal Episode 13 (or The Queen Will Be Watching) [2.13]

Lifeboat Sketch

Sailor 1: Still no sign of land. How long is it?
Sailor 2: That's a rather personal question, sir.

Undertaker Sketch

Man: Excuse me, are you suggesting eating my mother?
Undertaker: Well, yeah. Not raw, cooked!
Man: What?
Undertaker: Roasted, few french fries, broccoli, horsheradish sauce. [licks lips]
Man: Well... I do feel a bit peckish.
Undertaker: Great!
Man: Can we have some parsnips?
Undertaker: [calls out behind the desk] Get some parsnips!
Man: I really don't think I should...
Undertaker: Look, we'll eat her, and if you're feeling a bit guilty about it afterwards, we'll dig a grave and you can throw up in it!

Season 3

Njorl's Saga [3.1]

Mrs Conclusion: Hello, Mrs Premise.
Mrs Premise: Hello, Mrs Conclusion.
Mrs Conclusion: Busy day?
Mrs Premise: Busy! I've just spent four hours burying the cat.
Mrs Conclusion: Four hours to bury a cat?
Mrs Premise: Yes, it wouldn't keep still. Wriggling about, howling its head off.
Mrs Conclusion: Oh - it wasn't dead then?
Mrs Premise: Well, no, no, but it's not at all a well cat. So, as we were going away for a fortnight's holiday, I thought I'd better bury it just to be on the safe side.
Mrs Conclusion: Quite right. You don't want to come back from Sorento to a dead cat. It'd be so anticlimactic. Yes, kill it now, that's what I say.
Mrs Premise: Yes.
Mrs Conclusion: We're going to have our budgie put down.
Mrs Premise: Really? Is it very old?
Mrs Conclusion: No. We just don't like it.

Third Whicker: Father Pierre, why did you stay on in this colonial Campari-land where the clink of glasses mingles with the murmur of a million mosquitoes, where waterfalls of whisky wash away the worries of a world-weary Whicker, where gin and tonic jingle in a gyroscopic jubilee of something beginning with J?

Mr. & Mrs. Brian Norris' Ford Popular [3.02]

Mrs. Shazam: Mrs. Nigger-Baiter's exploded!
Mrs. Shazam's son: Good thing, too.
Mrs. Shazam: She was my best friend!
Mrs. Shazam's son: Oh, don't be so sentimental, mother. Things explode everyday.

Host: Tschaikowsky: Was he the tortured soul who poured out his immortal longings into dignified passages of stately music, or was he just an old poof who wrote tunes?

The Money Programme [3.03]

Woman: Well there's rat cake ... rat sorbet... rat pudding... or strawberry tart.
Man: Strawberry tart?!
Woman: Well it's got some rat in it.
Man: How much?
Woman: Three, rather a lot really.
Man: ... well, I'll have a slice without so much rat in it.

The Argument Clinic

Man: Aha! If I didn't pay, then why are you arguing? Got you!
Mr. Vibrating: No you haven't.
Man: Yes I have. If you're still arguing, I must have paid.
Mr. Vibrating: Not necessarily. I could be arguing in my spare time.
Man: Oh, I've had enough of this!
Mr. Vibrating: No, you haven't.
Man: Oh, shut up!

Blood, Devastation, Death, War and Horror [3.4]

Merchant Banker: Ah, Mr. Victim, I'm glad to say we've got the go-ahead to lend you the money you required. We will, of course, need for security the deed to your house, the deed to your aunt's house, of your wife's parents' house, and of your granny's bungalow. And we will in addition need a controlling interest in the stock of your new company, unrestricted access to your private bank accounts, the deposit of your three children in our vaults as hostages, and a full legal indemnity in case of any embezzlement carried out against you by members of our staff during the normal course of their duties. No, I'm afraid we couldn't accept your dog instead of your youngest child, but we would like to suggest a brand new scheme of ours in which 51 percent of your wife and your dog pass to us in the event of your suffering a serious accident.

The All-England Summarize Proust Competition [3.05]

Arthur Mee: Well, ladies and gentlemen, I don't think any of our contestants tonight succeeded in encapsulating the intricacies of Proust's masterwork. So, I'm going to give the award to the girl with the biggest tits.

Narrator: Mount Everest. Forbidding. Aloof. Terrifying. The mountain with the biggest tits in the world.

The War Against Pornography [3.06]

Documentary Presenter: The gastropod is a randy little fellow whose tiny brain scarcely strays from the subject of you-know-what. The randiest of the gastropods is the limpet; this hot-blooded little beast, with its tent-like shell, is always on the job. Its extramarital activities are something startling. Frankly, I don't know how the female limpet finds the time to adhere to the rock face! How am I doing?
Gladys: Disgusting!
George: But more interesting!
Documentary Presenter: Another loose-living gastropod is the periwinkle. This shameless little libertine with its characteristic ventral locomotion is not the marrying kind! "Anywhere, anythime" is its motto, off with the shell and they're at it!
Gladys: What about the lemmelebrates?
Documentary Presenter: I'm coming to them. The Great Scallop: This tacky, scrofulous old rapist is second in depravity only to the common clam. This latter is a right whore! A harlot! A cynical, bed-hopping, firm-breasted, Rabelaisian bit of seafood that makes Fanny Hill look like a dead pope! And finally, among the lemmelebrate bivalves, that most depraved of the whole subspecies, the whelk. The whelk is nothing but a homosexual of the worst kind! This gay boy of the gastropods, this queer crustacian, this mincing mollusk, this screaming, prancing, limp-wristed queen of the deep makes me sick!

Announcer: We would like to apologize for the way in which politicians are represented in this programme. It was never our intention to imply that politicians are weak-kneed, political time-servers who are more concerned with their personal vendettas and private power struggles than the problems of government, nor to suggest at any point that they sacrifice their credibility by denying free debate on vital matters in the mistaken impression that party unity comes before the well-being of the people they supposedly represent, nor to imply at any stage that they are squabbling little toadies without an ounce of concern for the vital social problems of today. Nor indeed do we intend that viewers should consider them as crabby, ulcerous, little self-seeking vermin with furry legs and an excessive addiction to alcohol and certain explicit sexual practices which some people might find offensive. We are sorry if this impression has come across.

Salad Days [3.07]

Various characters: Lemon curry?!

Announcer #1: The BBC would like to apologize to everyone in the world for that last item. It was disgusting and bad and thouroughly disobediant, and please don't bother to phone up because we know it was very tasteless, but they didn't really mean it and they all come from broken homes and have very unhappy personal lives, especially Eric. Anyway, they're all really nice people underneath, and very warm in the traditional show business way. And please don't write in either because the BBC is going through an unhappy phase at the moment, what with its father dying, and the mortgage, and BBC2 going out with men.
Announcer #2: The BBC would like to deny the last apology. It is very happy at home, and BBC2 is bound to go through this phase, so from all of us here, good night, sleep well, and have an absolutely super day tomorrow, kiss kiss.

The Cycling Tour [3.08]

Mr. Pither: You are Rear Admiral Sir Dudley Compton?
Chinaman: No. He die. He have heart attack and fell out of window onto exploding bomb, and was killed in shooting accident.

Chinaman: [toasting] Buttocks up!

Communist: Oh, my lack of God! It's Trotsky!

The Nude Organist [3.9]

Badger: There's a bomb onboard this plane, and I'll tell you where it is for a thousand pounds.
Second Pilot: I don't believe you.
Badger: If you don't tell me where the bomb is... If I don't give you the money... Unless you give me the bomb...
Stewardess: The money.
Badger: The bomb, thank you pretty lady — the bomb will explode, killing everybody.
Second Pilot: Including you.
Badger: [pause] I'll tell you where it is for a pound.
Second Pilot: Here's a pound.
Badger: I don't want Scottish money. They've got the numbers. It can be traced.
Second Pilot: One English pound. Now where's the bomb?
Badger: I can't remember.
Second Pilot: You've forgotten.
Badger: Aye, you'd better have your pound back. Oh... [rubs it] fingerprints.
First Pilot: Now where's the bomb?
Badger: Ah, wait a tic, wait a tic. Er, my first is in Glasgow but not in Spain, my second is in steamer but not in train, my whole is in the luggage compartment on the plane... I'll tell you where the bomb is for a pound.
Second Pilot: It's in the luggage compartment.
Badger: Right. Here's your pound.

Narrator: This is the planet Algon, fifth world in the system of Aldebaran, the Red Giant in the constellation of Sagittarius. Here an ordinary cup of drinking chocolate costs four million pounds, an immersion heater for the hot-water tank costs over six billion pounds, and a pair of split-crotch panties would be almost unobtainable.

Dr. E. Henry Thripshaw's Disease [3.10]

Roger Last: Good evening. Tonight on 'Is There' we examine the question, 'Is there a life after death?' And here to discuss it are three dead people.

Dennis Moore [3.11]

Mrs O: [reading her horoscope] You have green, scaly skin, and a soft yellow underbelly with a series of fin-like ridges running down your spine and tail. Although lizardlike in shape, you can grow anything up to thirty feet in length with huge teeth that can bite off great rocks and trees. You inhabit arid subtropical zones, and you wear spectacles.
Mrs Trepidatious: It's very good about the spectacles.
Mrs O: It's amazing!

"Prejudice" Host: Well now, the result of last week's competition when we asked you to find a derogatory term for the Belgians. Well, the response was enormous and we took quite a long time sorting out the winners. There were some very clever entries. Mrs Hatred of Leicester Said 'let's not call them anything, let's just ignore them'. And a Mr St John of Huntingdon said he couldn't think of anything more derogatory than Belgians. But in the end we settled on three choices: number three ... the Sprouts, sent in by Mrs Vicious of Hastings... very nice; number two..... the Phlegms, from Mrs Childmolester of Worthing; but the winner was undoubtedly from Mrs No-Supper-For-You from Norwood in Lancashire... Miserable Fat Belgian Bastards!

A Book at Bedtime [3.12]

Presenter: Would Albert Einstein ever have hit upon the theory of relativity if he hadn't been clever? All these tremendous leaps forward have been taken in the dark. Would Rutherford ever have split the atom if he hadn't tried? Could Marconi have invented the radio if he hadn't by pure chance spent years working at the problem? Are these amazing breakthroughs ever achieved except by years and years of unremitting study? Of course not. What I said earlier about accidental discoveries must have been wrong.

Scientist: If we increase the size of the penguin until it is the same height as the man and then compare the relative brain size, we now find that the penguin's brain is still smaller. But, and this is the point, it is larger than it was!

Grandstand [3.13]

The Dirty Vicar Sketch

Vicar: I like TITS!!! [Attacks noblewoman]
First Lady: Oh vicar! Vicar!
Vicar: [composing himself] Oh my goodness, I do beg your pardon! How dreadful! The first day in my new parish, I completely ... so sorry!
First Lady: Yes. Never mind, never mind. Chivers - send Mary in with a new gown, will you?
Chivers: Certainly, m'lady.
Vicar: I do beg your pardon ... I must sit down.
First Lady: As I was saying, how do you find the new vicarage?
Vicar: Oh yes, certainly, yes indeed, I find the grounds delightful, and the servants most attentive. Particularly the little serving maid with GREAT BIG KNOCKERS! [attacks again]

Series 4

The Golden Age of Ballooning [4.1]

Antoinette: Oh, Joseph! All you think about is balloons. All you talk about is balloons. Your beautiful house is full of bits and pieces of balloons. Your books are all about balloons, every time you sing a song, it is in some way obliquely connected with balloons... Everything you eat has to have "balloon" incorporated in the title. Your dogs are all called Balloono. You tie balloons to your ankles in the evenings!
Joseph Montgolfier: I don't do that!
Antoinette: Well, no, you don't do that. But you do duck down and shout, "Hey! Balloons!" when there are none about. Your whole life is becoming obsessively balloonic, you know... Oh-h-h! Why do I have to hang from this bloody gas bag all day?

Michael Ellis [4.2]

Mother: What have you got now?
Chris: I bought an ant, mother.
Mother: What d'you want one of them for! I'm not going to clean it out. You said you'd clean the tiger out, but do you? No, I suppose you've lost interest in it now. Now it'll be ant ant ant for a couple of days, then all of a sudden, 'oh, mum, I've bought a sloth' or some other odd-toed ungulate like a tapir.
Chris: It's really different this time, mum. I'm really going to look after this ant.
Mother: That's what you said about the sperm whale... now your papa's having to use it as a garage.
Chris: Well, you didn't feed it properly.
Mother: Where are we going to get 44 tons of plankton from every morning? Your dad was dead vexed about that. They thought he was mad in the deli.
Chris: Well at least he's got a free garage.
Mother: That's no good to him... his Hillman smells all fishy. [growl from the tiger] Oh blimey, that's the tiger. He'll want his mandies.
Chris: Are you giving that tiger drugs?
Mother: 'Course I'm giving it drugs!
Chris: It's illegal.
Mother: You try telling that to the tiger.
Chris: I think it's dangerous.
Mother: Listen, before he started fixing, he used to get through four Jehovah's witnesses a day. And he used to eat all of them, except the pamphlets.
Chris: Well, he's not dim.

Light Entertainment War [4.3]

Peter Woods: We interrupt show jumping to bring you a news flash. The Second World War has now entered a sentimental stage. The morning on the Ardennes Front, the Germans started spooning at dawn, but the British Fifth Army responded by gazing deep in their eyes, and the Germans are reported to have gone 'all coy'.

Hamlet [4.4]

Mr Gabriello: Wasn't he great, my boy?
Eric: He was great, Mr Gabriello.
Mr Gabriello: The way he kept fighting after his head came off!
Eric: He was better when the head came off, Mr Gabriello. He was really dodging the guy.
Mr Gabriello: Yeah, I reckon that if he could've lasted till the end of that first minute, he would've had the Killer worried.
Eric: Sure, Mr Gabriello.
Mr Gabriello: Oh he was great. Did you see his left arm?
Eric: No.
Mr. Gabriello: OK, we'll look around the hall after everybody's gone.

Mr. Neutron [4.5]

Mr Neutron: I want you to be my helpmate. As Tarzan had his Jane, as Napoleon had his Josephine, as Frankie Laine had whoever he had. I want you to help me in my plan to dominate the world!
Mrs Scum: Oh, Mr N! That I should be so lucky!
Mr Neutron: You're not Jewish, are you?

Party Political Broadcast [4.6]

Vendor: A strong hive of bees contains approximately 75,000 bees. Each honey bee must make 154 trips to collect one teaspoon of honey. Hello, sir.
Dad: What do you want?
Vendor: Would you like to buy some of our honey, sir?
Mother: What you doing in here?
Vendor: Which would you like, the Californian Orange Blossom, the Mexican, the New Zealand, or the Scottish Heather?
Mother: He can't eat honey. It makes him go plop plops.
Vendor: Come on, please try some.
Dad: All right, I'll have some Icelandic Honey.
Vendor: No, there is no such thing.
Dad: You mean you don't make any honey at all?
Vendor: No, no, we must import it all. Every bally drop. We are a gloomy people. It's so crikey cold and dark up there, and only fish to eat. Fish and imported honey. Oh strewth!
Mother: Well why do you have a week?
Vendor: Listen buster! In Rejkyavik it is dark for eight months of the year, and it's cold enough to freeze your wrists off and there's only golly fish to eat. Administrative errors are bound to occur in enormous quantities. Look at this — it's all a mistake. It's a real pain in the sphincter! Icelandic Honey Week? My life!
Mother: Well why do you come in here trying to flog the stuff, then?
Vendor: Listen cowboy, I got a job to do. IT'S A STUPID, POINTLESS JOB, BUT AT LEAST IT KEEPS ME AWAY FROM ICELAND, ALL RIGHT? The leg of the worker bee has...
[They slam the door on him.]

Other Quotes

  • "IT'S..." A hermit right before the opening titles

Major cast

All players assumed many various roles.

See also

External links

Wikipedia

Simple English

Redirecting to Monty Python








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