Holy Flying Circus
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (November 2011)|
|Holy Flying Circus|
DVD cover art
|Directed by||Owen Harris|
|Produced by||Polly Leys
|Written by||Tony Roche|
|Music by||Jack C. Arnold|
|Editing by||Billy Sneddon|
|Original channel||BBC Four|
|Running time||90 minutes|
Holy Flying Circus (2011) is a 90-minute BBC television comedy film, about the 1979 television debate over the film Monty Python's Life of Brian. It was written by Tony Roche and directed by Owen Harris.
The film is a "Pythonesque" dramatization of the 1979 televised debate on the talk show Friday Night, Saturday Morning between John Cleese and Michael Palin, members of British comedy troupe Monty Python, and Malcolm Muggeridge and Mervyn Stockwood, the then Bishop of Southwark.
The film looks at the build-up to the debate, the controversy around the film Life of Brian, and dramatizes segments from the televised discussion. The film begins with the Pythons returning from filming Life of Brian in Tunisia. At a meeting in the offices of their film distributor they discuss allowing the film to be released in America first. Cleese voices his support for the idea, and says that he loves Americans. We then see American reporters at a screening of the movie where a near riot is taking place due to the alleged "blasphemous" nature of the film. The Pythons review a disheartening statement made by a religious leader, implying that the film causes violence. Cleese misinterprets this (possibly deliberately) and goes off on a tangent about little kids carrying out copycat crucifixions on their friends. Terry Gilliam quickly rips up some magazines and creates an animation about the team writing the film in hell with Satan as their head writer. Their distributor, Barry, suggests a low profile approach for the UK release so as not to cause too much upset. "Let's not project an advert onto the side of Westminster Abbey or make Life of Brian Christmas crackers".
- Darren Boyd as John Cleese
- Charles Edwards as Michael Palin
- Steve Punt as Eric Idle
- Rufus Jones as Terry Jones and Michael's Wife
- Tom Fisher as Graham Chapman
- Phil Nichol as Terry Gilliam
- Michael Cochrane as Malcolm Muggeridge
- Roy Marsden as Bishop of Southwark
- Tom Price as Tim Rice
- Stephen Fry as God
- Ben Crispin as Jesus
- Simon Greenall as Barry Atkins
- Paul Chadidi as Harry Balls
- Jason Thorpe as Alan Dick / Desmond Lovely
- Mark Heap as Andrew Thorogood
The film received mixed reviews from critics, while receiving just over half a million viewers on BBC Four and proving a very popular watch on iPlayer. Most praised the casting of the Pythons, predominantly for Palin and Cleese. The Pythons themselves seemed to enjoy the show, with HFC gaining approval from Palin and Terry Jones.
John Cleese hadn't seen it, but had apparently "heard good things" about the show, in particular Boyd's portrayal of him. Terry Gilliam commented on the fact that Cleese didn't like it, even though he hadn't even seen it, and reasoned that the Pythons would have no reason to complain about somebody "taking the piss" out of them when they'd been doing it to others for years.