In keeping with our new Friday tradition of getting you ready for the weekend…it’s time for the Tellyspotting Friday Funnies. This week, Ripping Yarns. Happy weekend!
After Monty Python’s Flying Circus ended in 1974, it seemed like a no-brainer that the BBC was eager to find new projects for the now ex-Pythons. Turning first to the brilliance of Terry Jones and Michael Palin, ‘Tomkinson’s Schooldays’, a spoof of Tom Brown’s Schooldays, where young Tomkinson’s attempts to escape a school where pupils are shot for disobedience and regularly nailed to the walls for fun, was a huge success when it premiered in 1976.
Within a week of it being aired Palin and Jones were at the BBC being quizzed about prospects for more shows along the same lines. At that point, Ripping Yarns was ‘officially’ born. Heavy on the satire and overall outright silliness, the series lasted for two short seasons, ending in 1979.
In “Escape from Stalag Luft 112B”, Major Errol Phipps, played by Michael Palin, is a legend among prisoners of war, having attempted over five hundred escapes, two hundred of them before he left England. One day, he is transferred to the most infamous prison camp: Stalag Luft 112B. He tries eleven escapes en route and one just after arriving, but is stopped by fellow British officers. They are comfortable where they are, bossing the Germans around. One of the officers is called “Attenborough”, alluding to Richard Attenborough’s role in the film The Great Escape, which the episode parodies very successfully given that escape attempts have to be organized by a special committee which only meets very irregularly…