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Monty Python’s Flying Circus

It's...LOAD-BEARING LEVIATHAN of British comedy, once upon a time scaring Beeb executives with sketches about matricide and masturbation, nowadays a bunch of craggy sixtysomethings happy counting the pennies from yet another merchandising spin-off or tuneless repackaging of the glory years. But hey, they’re old and who’s to blame them? Having entertained “millions” by getting slapped about the face with fish and tumbling into canals, wrestling in muddy fields dressed as washerwomen, chasing coffins over Yorkshire moors, smashing bricks on their handkerchiefed heads, spontaneously combusting, being surrounded by film, being eaten by giant hedgehogs, being argued with, being erroneously promised the transaction of a portion of cheese, having large weights dropped on them, experiencing deja vu on milk floats, being cut out and moved around on screen like in a giant comic, and being assailed with cries of “Lemon curry?!” by BBC newsreaders, our men deserve something of a rest.

Your relationship with the collected efforts of Cleese, Chapman, Jones, Palin, Gilliam and Idle will pass/have passed through a number of stages:

1) Pre-teen (discovering the occasional sketch on a clip show/WINDMILL/ASK ASPEL)

2) 6th form (poring over the scripts, reciting random pieces of dialogue with one another for no reason, performing sketches in the common room)

3) Twentysomething (knocking the boys for pretending to be radical when they were actually a bunch of public school toffs)

4) Thirtysomething (falling in love with them again and buying up all the tie-in books, CDs, novelty crap and side projects off eBay)

5) Middle age (going to see Spamalot and laughing at the funny costumes)

6) Old age (reflecting wistfully on the days when you were experiencing stages 1) to 5))



  1. Ken Shinn

    May 19, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Erm – if Innes isn’t a Python, Connie Booth is even less of one. And she doesn’t sing half as well.

  2. Glenn Aylett

    June 14, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, everyone must have their favourite Python line. However, my favourite sketch has to be the North Minehead by election with Adlof Hilter and Heinrich Bimmler.

  3. BibaNova

    June 17, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Your 6th Form comment strikes a chord – that’s exactly what we used to do!

  4. wolvesboy84

    June 17, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    I really love the Oscar Wilde sketch, and I remember me and another guy at college trying to parrot it (NPI) and getting it totally wrong.

    “What I meant your Majesty…what I meant…was that you shine out like a shaft of gold, whilst all around is dark!”

  5. Lee James Turnock

    May 4, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    I’ve been to see Spamalot and didn’t enjoy it due to the position of my seat. It was facing the stage.

  6. Applemask

    April 13, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    I am currently experiencing stage 4. I skipped stage 3, and hope to do the same with 5.

  7. THX 1139

    January 22, 2020 at 11:03 pm

    Can Terry Jones (from Colwyn Bay) and Michael Palin (from Sheffield) really be described as toffs just because they went to Oxford? Always troubled me, that.

    Anyway, we appear to be reaching the end of an era for the Pythons. Sort of like a giant foot descending…

  8. Glenn Aylett

    January 25, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    At their best, the Pythons were hilarious and innovative and their best work is always fondly remembered, but at their worst, which was about a third of their sketches, they were pretentious and boring. Yet who can’t look back at The Spanish Inquisition, the gas board sketch, Upper Class Twit of the Year and the parrot sketch and not laugh? Terry Jones RIP.

    • richardpd

      January 25, 2020 at 11:34 pm

      John Cleese felt they did a very good job writing the first & most of the second series, but felt after that it was harder & harder to come up with good ideas which weren’t retreads of previous sketches.

      The third series has few sketches Cleese was truly happy with & his only contributions towards the fourth were left over ideas from writing The Holy Grail.

      • Glenn Aylett

        January 26, 2020 at 11:01 am

        The final series without Cleese wasn’t very funny and the team were right to call it a day in 1974. However, Cleese was to score an even bigger success the following year and the team’s films were hugely popular. Also quite like how Michael Palin switched to serious drama as the headmaster in the excellent GBH and for his travelogues.

        • Tom Ronson

          February 27, 2023 at 1:42 am

          When people say it was slapdash, overambitious twaddle written and performed by people who were too clever by half, my immediate response is ‘Yes, and that’s why it’s good.’ They set a high bar for abrasive personalities taking the piss out of the world around them. For a good long time, they all seemed perfectly aware that they’d created an explosive television event that should have been left alone, frozen in time for subsequent generations to discover at their leisure, but medical/legal/alimony bills persuaded them to flog the dead horse with that appalling reunion show back in 2014… which, like a dickhead, I paid over £100 to go and see. I suppose I got what I deserved.

  9. Tom Ronson

    March 30, 2022 at 2:38 am

    I loved Monty Python as a kid, but I don’t remember laughing very often, if at all, really. I was more impressed by the energy, the attitude, the invention, the overall strangeness. Genuinely felt like six deadpan comedians had been given the keys to the kingdom and the freedom to do as they pleased. The first series feels very tentative and amateurish nowadays. The second and third still stand up well. The fourth, Cleese-free series is a strange one – two of the worst episodes they ever did, two of the best episodes they ever did, and two of the oddest episodes they ever did. (I’ll leave it to the curious viewer to decide for themselves which is which.)

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