Happy early 50th, Monty Python’s Flying Circus!

Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, Carol Cleveland and Terry Gilliam in Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969). Photo: BBC

With the greatness of Monty Python’s Flying Circus getting ready to mark their 50th anniversary since they first took UK audiences either by storm and/or surprise in October 1969 on BBC1, fans around the world should brace themselves for an endless amount of brilliant stuff from the mind palaces of the comedy troupe that not only has had a major influence on much of the comedy output that crosses our collective paths today but also has secured their place in pop culture references throughout the land.

Having had the great good fortune to cross paths with several of the Pythons over the years for our various comedy productions for PBS and listening to them talk at great length about how the Flying Circus came to be, one quickly realizes that it would be virtually impossible to recreate the magic of Python today as comedy has become too corporate and too caught up in ‘metrics’ to have 6 random guys from Oxford and Cambridge walk into the BBC and say they like to do a show and, by the way, we don’t really know what it’s about but it will be funny. I think it took everyone by surprise when the commissioner of comedy at the BBC said something like ok, but you can only have 13 episodes. Just doesn’t happen like that anymore.

That said, there will be lots of familiar bits from the past 50 years headed our way in the coming months, some classics that will be ‘digitally remastered’ and some new ‘lost footage’ that will only make us remember more fondly the first time we first watched an episode of MPFC. Thankfully, it was only a short five years later that American audiences were able to experience Python when KERA, the PBS station in Dallas, became the first station in the U.S. to broadcast the series in October 1974. Thanks to then KERA Program Director Ron Devillier and KERA President/CEO Bob Wilson for having the comedy foresight to take a chance on a group of guys doing sketches about a dead parrot, a cheese shop, the Spanish Inquisition and a singing Lumberjack!

Here are a few examples of some of the content gold is headed our way over the next year and a look back at some just random Python silliness.

Terry Jones introduces lost footage and outtakes from Monty Python And The Holy Grail.

Imagining how Monty Python And The Holy Grail might be marketed if it were released in this modern age of cinema.

Happy 50th, Monty Python’s Flying Circus! You don’t look a day over 40!

In: Comedy