It started out innocently enough as the story of, one, Brian Cohen, born on the same day as, and next door to, Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, in truly probably the first recorded instance of ‘separated at birth‘, Brian was immediately mistaken for the Messiah. Produced, written and starring the brilliant minds of Monty Python, Life of Brian was originally met with a great deal of controversy when released in 1979 from numerous religious groups, some of which sparked a full-fledged ban of the film in some areas of the UK. The subsequent debate in the UK between John Cleese, Michael Palin, Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark Mervyn Stockwood was priceless.
The Life of Brian debate
The film was banned for eight years in Ireland, was heralded as being “a film so funny that it is banned in Norway” and, believe it or not, had its unofficial ban only recently lifted in the Welsh town of Aberystwyth in 2009 thanks to Mayor Sue Jones-Davies, who just happened to play Judith Iscariot in the original film.
Now, with all the controversy finally left behind, the BBC has commissioned Holy Flying Circus for broadcast on BBC Four this Fall. The feature-length drama will be written by Tony Roche, whose other credits include In the Loop and The Thick of It and will delve into the controversy surrounding the release of the film some 30+ years ago. The BBC said the film would “incorporate surreal cutaways including puppetry and animation” and also star Darren Boyd (Whites, Dirk Gently, Kiss Me Kate) as John Cleese. No Pythons are involved in the production and, hopefully, none will be hurt during the filming this summer. Let the games begin.</strong>