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Monty Python's Flying Circus

Monty Python's Flying Circus was a comedy television series that originally aired in Britain from 1969 until 1974. The show involved neither snakes nor aviation (except by Harold the sheep) and its comedy owed more to surrealism than to circus. Furthermore, none of the performers or characters appearing was called Monty. It became a hit series in Britain and soon after was syndicated to the United States, where it attracted a huge cult following.

The show was written by and starred the members of the Monty Python comedy troupe, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, as well as the gorgeous Carol Cleveland and other bit players.

The show, like its precursors that featured several budding Pythons, Do Not Adjust Your Set and At Last the 1948 Show, was characterized by numerous, usually unrelated, skits that came and went at a frenetic pace. The skits ranged from the completely silly and nonsensical, to the bitingly satirical (usually the latter). The show often targeted the idiosyncracies of British life (especially professionals), and was at times politically charged. The members of Monty Python were highly educated (Oxford and Cambridge graduates), and their comedy was often pointedly intellectual with numerous references to philosophers and literary figures. They frequently appeared in women's clothes. Skits were often punctuated with Terry Gilliam's graphics and animations, which tended to be quite bizarre. Cleese had developed his harsh establishment characters in the 1962 Cambridge Footlights Revue, the Frost Report and on the humourous BBC radio programme I'm Sorry, I'll Read that Again.

Although the show was made by the BBC, the BBC was widely against the show, and tried to censor parts of it, most noticably the word 'masturbation' in the Proust sketch.

The show aged very well and remains widely popular. Because of its frequent re-broadcasts, many of its skits have become ingrained into English-speaking culture, and are commonly referenced in other shows, movies, etc.

The first episode was recorded September 7, 1969, and the first broadcast was October 5, 1969. The final episode was recorded November 16, 1974, and the final original broadcast was on December 5, 1974. There were a total of 45 episodes. No new episodes were produced from the October, 1970, until December, 1971, and no original broadcasts occurred from December, 1970 through October 1972. John Cleese left the Monty Python group after the third season, and so did not appear in the final six episodes (ie. season four) of the series. He did, however, get writing credits in season four where applicable. Neil Innes and Douglas Adams are notable as the only two non-Pythons to get writing credits in the show - both in the same episode late in season four. Innes frequently appeared in the Pythons' stage shows and can also be seen in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Participants in or followers of Monty Python's Flying Circus are sometimes known as Pythonites (or Pythonists, a term used in the Not the Nine O'Clock News 'General Synod's Life of Christ/Life of Monty Python' Sketch), although the performers are more generally known as "the Pythons". The adjective "Pythonesque" is used to describe speeches, scenes or events similar to situations or animated sequences shown in this British comedy programme.

Well-known skits include:

The theme tune was John Philip Sousa's Liberty Bell March.

The films in order were:

And Now For Something Completely Different[?]

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Life of Brian
The Meaning of Life[?]
A Fish Called Wanda[?] - not strictly a Monty Python film, but includes several members of the original cast and a similar style of humor

The Books created to tie-in with the Series/Films were:

Monty Python's Big Red Book[?]
Monty Python's Brand New Bok[?] (Later reprinted as Monty Python's Papperbok)
The Life of Brian of Nazareth/Montypythonscrapbook[?]
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
The Complete Works of Shakespeare and Monty Python Vol. 1: Monty Python[?] (a repackaging of both the Big Red Book and the Brand New Bok)

The Records released included:

Monty Python's Flying Circus (1970)
Another Monty Python Record[?] (1971)
Monty Python's Previous Record[?] (1972)
The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief[?] (1973)
Monty Python Live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane[?] (1974)
The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the Film of Monty Python and the Holy Grail[?] (1975)
The Worst of Monty Python[?] (1976)
Monty Python Live at City Center[?] (1976)
The Monty Python Instant Record Collection[?] (UK Version - 1977)
Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
Monty Python examines The Life of Brian[?] (1979)
Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album[?] (1980)
Monty Python's Meaning of Life[?] (1983)
Monty Python's The Final Ripoff[?] (1988)
Monty Python Sings (1989)


Series 1

  • Whither Canada?
    • Introduction
    • Famous Deaths
    • Italian Lesson
    • Whizzo Butter
    • "It's the Arts"
    • Arthur "Two-Sheds" Jackson
    • Picasso/cycling race
    • The funniest joke in the world
    • End Titles
  • Sex and Violence
    • Flying Sheep
    • A man with three buttocks
    • Working-class playwright
  • How To Recognize Different Types Of Tree From Quite A Long Way Away
    • Court Scene
    • Bicycle repair man
  • Owl-stretching Time
    • Sketches
  • Man's Crisis Of Identity In The Latter Half Of The Twentieth Century
    • Sketches
  • The BBC Entry To The Zinc Stoat Of Budapest
    • Sketches
  • You're No Fun Any More
    • Camel Spotting
    • The audit (Accountant sketch)
    • Science Fiction sketch
  • Full Frontal Nudity
  • The Ant, An Introduction
  • (Untitled)
    • Lion Tamer (chartered accountant)
    • Pet conversions
  • The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Goes To The Bathroom
    • Sketches
  • The Naked Ant
    • Mr Hilter
  • Intermission
    • Me Doctor

Series 2

  • Dinsdale
  • The Spanish Inquisition
  • Show 5
    • Psychiatrist Milkman
    • It's the Mind
  • The Buzz Aldrin Show
    • The Architect
    • Insurance
    • The Bishop
  • Live from the Grillomat
    • "Blackmail"
  • School Prizes
    • Sketches
  • The Attila the Hun Show
    • Sketches
  • Archeology Today
    • Sketches
  • How to Recognize Different Parts of the Body
    • The Death of Mary, Queen of Scots
    • Exploding Penguin on TV set
  • Scott of the Antarctic
    • Scott of the Antarctic
    • Fish License
  • How Not to Be Seen
    • Conquistador Coffee
    • How Not to Be Seen
  • Spam
    • Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook
  • Royal Episode 13
    • Fish Club

Series 3

  • Whicker's World
    • Burying the cat
  • (Untitled)
    • Sketches
  • (Untitled)
    • The Money Programme sketch
  • (Untitled)
    • The man who speaks in anagrams
  • The All-England Summarize Proust Competition
    • Everest Climbed by hairdressers
    • Travel Agent
    • Theory on Brontosauruses by Anne Elk (Miss)
    • Anne Elk II
  • (Untitled)
    • Sketches
  • (Untitled)
    • Sketches
  • The Cycling Tour
    • Cycling Sketch
  • (Untitled)
    • Sketches
  • (Untitled)
    • Sketches
  • (Untitled)
    • Sketches
  • (Untitled)
    • Sketches
  • Grandstand
    • Thames TV Introduction
    • Charwoman
    • Showbiz Awards (Part 1)
    • Oscar Wilde
    • Showbiz Awards (Part 2)
    • Pasolini's 'The third test Match
    • New Brain From Curry's
    • Blood Donor Clinic
    • Wife-Swapping (Part 1)
    • Showbiz Awards (Part 3)
    • Dirty Vicar
    • Show 39 Credits

Series 4

  • The Golden Age of Ballooning
    • Sketches
  • Michael Ellis
    • Sketches
  • Light Entertainment War
    • "Up Your Pavement"
    • RAF Banter
    • Trivialising the War
    • Courtmartial
    • Film Trailer
    • The Public are Idiots
    • Programme Titles Conference
    • Woody and Tinny Words
    • Show Jumping (Musical)
    • "When Does a Dream Begin?" (Song)
  • Hamlet
    • Bogus Psychiatrists
    • "Nationwide"
    • Father-in-Law
    • Hamlet and Ophelia
    • Boxing Match Aftermath
    • Boxing Commentary
    • Piston Engine (a Bargain)

    • Live From Epsom
    • Jockey Interviews
    • Queen Victoria Handicap
  • Mr. Neutron
    • Sketches
  • Party Political Broadcast
    • Sketches

Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus: Two 45-minutes specials made by WDR[?] for West German television. These were shot entirely on film, mainly on location in Bavaria and in the German language, although the second episode was originally recorded in English and then dubbed into German. Some of the material was reworked from At Last the 1948 Show. Footage from these specials was used to fill in between live stage performances. At one point the team considered editing the two shows together, dubbing them completely into English and releasing them as a 90-minute film, but it never came about.

Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl: A video record of the team's sell-out...sorry, sold-out...Hollywood Bowl concerts in 1978, filmed before a hysterical audience. Also incorporates some filmed inserts from the German specials.

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