The first episode of British sketch comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus aired on BBC One on the 5th October 1969. created by the comedy group Monty Python ( Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones and Michael Palin and Graham Chapman
Monty Python’s Flying Circus (known during the final series as just Monty Python) is a British sketch comedy series created by the comedy group Monty Python and Broadcast by the BBC. with 45 episodes airing over four series from 1969 to 1974, The shows were composed of surreality, risqué or innuendo-laden humour, sight gags and observational sketches without punchlines which often targeted the idiosyncrasies of British life, especially that of professionals. It is at times politically charged, and also featured Terry Gilliam’s wonderful and imaginatively bizarre animations, often sequenced or merged with live action. Over the years many of the sketches have attained classic status including The Lumberjack Song, Ministry of Silly Walks, Upper class twit of the Year,Spam song, The Dead Parrot Sketch and Bicycle Repair Man.
The members of Monty Python were all highly educated. Terry Jones and Michael Palin are Oxford University graduates; Eric Idle, John Cleese, and Graham Chapman attended Cambridge University; and American-born member Terry Gilliam is an Occidental College graduate. Their comedy is often pointedly intellectual, with numerous erudite references to philosophers and literary figures. The series followed and elaborated upon the style used by Spike Milligan in his ground breaking series Q5, rather than the traditional sketch show format. The team intended their humour to be impossible to categorise, and succeeded (although, by their perspective, failed) so completely that the adjective “Pythonesque” was invented to define it and, later, similar material. They also did a few movies including Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life
The Pythons play the majority of the series characters themselves, including the majority of the female characters, but occasionally they cast an extra actor. Regular supporting cast members include Carol Cleveland (referred to by the team as the unofficial “Seventh Python”), Connie Booth (Cleese’s first wife), series producer Ian MacNaughton, Ian Davidson, Neil Innes (in the fourth series), and Fred Tomlinson and the Fred Tomlinson Singers (for musical numbers). The theme music is the Band of the Grenadier Guards’ rendition of John Philip Sousa’s “The Liberty Bell” which was first published in 1893. Under the Berne Convention’s “country of origin” concept, the composition was subject to United States copyright law which states that any works first published prior to 1923 was in the public domain due to copyright expiration. This enabled Gilliam to co-opt the march for the series without having to make any royalty payments.
Monty Python split in 1974 however In 1974, the PBS telvision station KERA in Dallas, United States began broadcastinG episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and is often credited with introducing the programme to American audiences. When several episodes were broadcast by ABC in their Wide World of Entertainment showcase in 1975, the episodes were re-edited, thus losing the continuity and flow intended in the originals. When ABC refused to stop treating the series in this way, the Pythons took them to court. Initially the court ruled that their artistic rights had indeed been violated, but it refused to stop the ABC broadcasts. However, on appeal the team gained control over all subsequent US broadcasts of its programmes. The case also led to their gaining the rights from the BBC, once their original contracts ended at the end of 1980. The show also aired on MTV during the network’s infancy; Monty Python was part of a two-hour comedy block on Sunday nights that also included another BBC series, The Young Ones. Monty Python and Fawlty have also been rerun multiple times on Television and the Internet film service Netflix also has Life of Brian and Holy Grail.
In April 2006, Monty Python’s Flying Circus returned to non-cable American television on PBS. In connection with this, PBS commissioned Monty Python’s Personal Best, a six-episode series featuring each Python’s favourite sketches, plus a tribute to Chapman, who died in 1989. BBC America has aired the series on a sporadic basis since the mid-2000s, in an extended 40-minute time slot in order to include commercials. Independent Film Channel acquired the rights to the show in 2009, though not exclusive, as BBC America still airs occasional episodes of the show. IFC also presented a six-part documentary Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyers Cut), produced by Terry Jones’ son Bill.
The various members Monty Python have also starred in a number movies individually John Cleese and Michael Palin starred inFish Called Wanda, Clockwise, Time Bandits, and the television programs Fawlty Towers, Doctor Who, Pole to Pole, Around the World in Eighty Days, Michael Palin’s Eastern Europe, Doctor Who and Ripping Yarns. Eric Idle appeared in National Lampoons European Vacation and Terry Gilliam has gone on to be a successful director, directing many great Science fiction films such as Brazil and 12 Monkeys.