Forty years ago this month, in a scene reminiscent of the Beatles’ first trip to America, four members of the Monty Python comedy troupe landed at Dallas’ Love Field and were mobbed by adoring fans. The troupe had just flown in from LA where Monty Python and the Holy Grail had just been screened for the first time to help KERA celebrate being the first television station in the United States to broadcast Monty Python’s Flying Circus, an seminal moment in U.S. television history.
Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Graham Chapman came to the KERA studios as part of a tour of public television stations to raise both money and awareness for the stations that recognized, early on, the true genius that is Python.
The 40th Anniversary Monty Python-a-Thon – begins TONIGHT at 7pm on KERA
Keeping the forty-year tradition alive of being ‘the first’ when it comes to Monty Python, KERA can now lay claim to being the home of the U.S. broadcast premiere of Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go, the troupe’s final concert that was taped this past July at London’s O2 Arena. Airing tonight from 7:00p-12:30a CT, KERA’s 40th Anniversary Monty Python-a-Thon celebrates that memorable 1975 Python appearance in Dallas with the U.S. premiere of the Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go concert at 7:00pm CT, followed at 9:00pm CT of Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl and then, at 11:00pm CT, an incredible documentary will air, Monty Python: Before the Flying Circus, which traces the group from the early days of their crossing paths at Oxford and Cambridge through their pre-Python gigs as part of the Cambridge Footlights, At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set.
It was that first broadcast on public television in the United States of Python that opened the doors for British comedy to make its way to public television stations across America. It was then Program Director, Ron Devillier, and KERA president, Bob Wilson, who had the foresight to acquire the program and be the first to put it on the air in October 1974.
From that momentous first Sunday in October 1974 (October 6, to be exact), which was almost 5 years to the day that Monty Python’s Flying Circus premiered in the UK on the BBC in 1969, Sundays nights have never been the same both in North Texas and around the U.S.
The rest of the British comedy story on public television is history. In subsequent years, viewers were treated to the British comedy brilliance of series such as Fawlty Towers, Good Neighbors, The Two Ronnies, To the Manor Born, Keeping Up Appearances, Vicar of Dibley, Blackadder and on and on. British comedy continues today on nearly every public television station in America, all thanks to Sunday, October 6, 1974, in Dallas.