List of Monty Python's Flying Circus episodes

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Monty Python’s Flying Circus is a British surreal sketch comedy series created by and starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam, who became known as "Monty Python", or the "Pythons", for BBC1. The series stands out for its use of absurd situations, mixed with risqué and innuendo-laden humour, sight gags and observational sketches without punchlines. Live action segments were broken up with animations by Gilliam, often merging with the live action to form segues. It premiered on 5 October 1969 and ended on 5 December 1974, with a total of 45 episodes over the course of 4 series.

Series overview[edit]

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1135 October 196911 January 1970
21315 September 197022 December 1970
31319 October 197218 January 1973
4631 October 19745 December 1974

All series repeated in UK on TV channel That'sTV (freeview or Sky, not VirginMedia) from April 2022

Episodes[edit]

Series 1 (1969–70)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleOriginal air date
11"Whither Canada?"5 October 1969 (1969-10-05)
22"Sex and Violence"12 October 1969 (1969-10-12)
33"How to Recognise Different Types of Trees from Quite a Long Way Away"19 October 1969 (1969-10-19)
44"Owl-Stretching Time"26 October 1969 (1969-10-26)

Note: Many sketches in this episode are ended prematurely by Chapman's army character ("The Colonel"), who protests rip-offs of the British Army's slogan, "It's a Man's Life in the Modern Army"

Note: Owl Stretching Time was a proposed name for the series itself.

55"Man's Crisis of Identity in the Latter Half of the 20th Century"16 November 1969 (1969-11-16)

Note" BBC1 officially began broadcasting in colour on 15 November 1969; but for the previous two months, they had been broadcasting colour programmes "unofficially", so while the whole of the first series was broadcast in colour, this episode was the first to be advertised as being in colour (source: notes taken from BBC videotape operators and transmission managers made at the time). This was also the first episode where Cleese says the title in a silly voice rather than calmly in his normal voice.

66"It's the Arts"
"The BBC Entry for the Zinc Stoat of Budapest"
23 November 1969 (1969-11-23)
77"You're No Fun Anymore"30 November 1969 (1969-11-30)
88"Full Frontal Nudity"7 December 1969 (1969-12-07)

Note: This episode repeats several running gags from Episode 4: a female cast member delivers a terrible joke, and upon protest from fellow cast members, wails 'But it's my only line!'; the use of the song "Jerusalem", and the Colonel preempting sketches–this time protesting that they are 'too silly'.

99"The Ant, An Introduction"14 December 1969 (1969-12-14)
1010"Untitled "21 December 1969 (1969-12-21)

Note: This is the first episode not to show an episode title at the beginning of the closing credits.

1111"The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Goes to the Bathroom"28 December 1969 (1969-12-28)
1212"The Naked Ant"4 January 1970 (1970-01-04)
1313"Intermission"11 January 1970 (1970-01-11)

Series 2 (1970)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleOriginal air date
141"Face the Press"
"Dinsdale!"
15 September 1970 (1970-09-15)

Note: The introductory music of Ethel the Frog/Piranha Brothers: from the Karelia Suite by Jean Sibelius

152"The Spanish Inquisition"22 September 1970 (1970-09-22)

The Spanish Inquisitors (Palin, Jones, and Gilliam) appear seven times throughout this episode.

163"Déjà Vu"
"Show 5"
29 September 1970 (1970-09-29)

This episode introduces a running gag that is used for the next two episodes: a character says, 'Walk this way.' The character told this responds, 'If I could walk that way...' only to be stopped when the first character warns them about finishing the punchline, by raising a finger.

174"The Buzz Aldrin Show"20 October 1970 (1970-10-20)
185"Live from the Grill-O-Mat"27 October 1970 (1970-10-27)

Note: The 'walk this way' gag is used for the last time, except the words 'I' and 'walk' are replaced with 'we' (since it is a group of people) and 'run', respectively.

196"It's a Living"
"School Prizes"
3 November 1970 (1970-11-03)
207"The Attila the Hun Show"10 November 1970 (1970-11-10)
218"Archaeology Today"17 November 1970 (1970-11-17)
229"How to Recognise Different Parts of the Body"24 November 1970 (1970-11-24)
2310"Scott of the Antarctic"1 December 1970 (1970-12-01)
2411"How Not to Be Seen"8 December 1970 (1970-12-08)
2512"Spam"15 December 1970 (1970-12-15)
2613"Royal Episode Thirteen"22 December 1970 (1970-12-22)

Note: Features an uncredited cameo by News at Ten presenter Reginald Bosanquet, recorded at the studios of ITN

Series 3 (1972–73)[edit]

In this series only, the opening sequence begins with a nude organist (played by Jones), Cleese saying 'and now', and the 'It's' Man.

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleOriginal air date
271"Whicker's World"
"Njorl's Saga"
19 October 1972 (1972-10-19)
282"Mr. and Mrs. Brian Norris' Ford Popular"26 October 1972 (1972-10-26)

Note: Shown after the closing credits. Lulu and Ringo Starr appear as themselves. This is one of the few times you can hear the man say something besides 'It's'.

293"The Money Programme"2 November 1972 (1972-11-02)
304"Blood, Devastation, Death, War and Horror"9 November 1972 (1972-11-09)

Note: Anagrams appear throughout this episode: 'Tony M. Nyphot's Flying Risccu' for the programme itself; 'Chamran Knebt' for Merchant Bank, and 'Mary Recruitment Office' for Army Recruitment Office. The end credits are all in anagrams.

Note: Richard Baker also does gestures to indicate pauses in the news.

315"The All-England Summarize Proust Competition"16 November 1972 (1972-11-16)

Note: A running gag throughout this episode is that whenever anyone answers the phone, they take off their shoe as if the person on the other end had asked their shoe size.

326"The War Against Pornography"23 November 1972 (1972-11-23)
337"Salad Days"30 November 1972 (1972-11-30)
348"The Cycling Tour"7 December 1972 (1972-12-07)

Note: This episode is the first Flying Circus to feature a full-length story. It is also the first that does not have a formal opening sequence; instead, a simple caption ("The Cycling Tour") appears at the beginning.

Note: Chapman's adopted son, John Tomiczek, makes a brief non-speaking appearance as an autograph seeker.

Note: The episode was written by Palin and Jones with the exception of the last third which was re-written by Cleese and Chapman.[10] Palin and Jones play only one character each throughout the whole episode (although Jones, suffering from amnesia, imagines himself as Clodagh Rogers, Leon Trotsky, Eartha Kitt and Edward Heath).

Note: The music to which Mr. Pither cycles is the Waltz from Act II of Faust by Charles Gounod.

359"The Nude Organist"
"The Nude Man"
14 December 1972 (1972-12-14)

Note: Most sketches are interrupted by Mr. Badger (Idle) right from the first sketch onwards. In addition, Palin's Compère and Gilliam's Knight both made one-time reappearances since Series 1 in this episode (there is also a reference to Episode 3 in this scene, in which there are two people carrying a donkey).

3610"E. Henry Thripshaw's Disease"21 December 1972 (1972-12-21)

Note: The BBC censored this episode probably more than any other, cutting three sketches (Big Nosed Sculptor, Revolting Cocktails, Wee-Wee Wine Cellar) as well as much of Gilliam's animation.

3711"Dennis Moore"4 January 1973 (1973-01-04)
3812"A Book at Bedtime"11 January 1973 (1973-01-11)

Note: "Party Political Broadcast (Choreographed)" and "Dad's Doctors, Dad's Pooves and Other Interesting Stories" have been cut from many versions of this episode.[31] A clip of "Party Political Broadcast (Choreographed)" has surfaced on YouTube,[32] while "Dad's Doctors" has been restored to the iTunes and the Blu-ray versions of the series, as well as added to the Netflix streaming video version.

3913"Grandstand"
"The British Showbiz Awards"
18 January 1973 (1973-01-18)

Note: During the Light Entertainment Awards, Richard Baker briefly re-appears, saying 'Lemon Curry?

Note: This is the second episode without a formal opening sequence.

Series 4 (1974)[edit]

Cleese was not interested in doing more of the series, so the rest of the troupe decided to do one last, shortened series under the simple banner, Monty Python (although the old full title, Monty Python's Flying Circus, is displayed at the beginning of the opening sequence). Cleese did receive writing credits on some episodes that featured material he had written for the first draft of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (particularly in "Michael Ellis").

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleOriginal air date
401"The Golden Age of Ballooning"31 October 1974 (1974-10-31)

This is the third episode without a formal opening sequence. Almost the entire episode was written by Palin himself.

412"Michael Ellis"7 November 1974 (1974-11-07)

Note: This is the second episode to feature a full-length story (the other being "The Cycling Tour" from Series 3). It was mainly written by Cleese and Chapman with some help from Palin and Neil Innes.[10]

Note: The end credits appear immediately after the opening sequence.

423"The Light Entertainment War"14 November 1974 (1974-11-14)

Note: The Nude Organist and the 'It's Man' appear for the last time, in footage taken from the episode with "Dennis Moore".

Note: Most of the sketches of the episode have a shared theme (World War II) yet no apparent narrative.

434"Hamlet"21 November 1974 (1974-11-21)
445"Mr. Neutron"28 November 1974 (1974-11-28)

Note: This is the third episode to feature a full-length story ("The Cycling Tour" and "Michael Ellis" being the earlier two).

Note: With the exception of "Post-Box Ceremony", nearly the entire episode was co-written by Palin and Jones.

456"Party Political Broadcast"5 December 1974 (1974-12-05)

As the episode opens and closes, there are announcements relating to the "Party Political Broadcast on Behalf of the Liberal Party".

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Johnson, Kim "Howard" (1989). The First 200 Years of Monty Python. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 9780312033095.
  2. ^ a b c Cleese, John (2014). So, Anyway... Crown Archetype. pp. 310, 340, 345. ISBN 9780385348249.
  3. ^ "John Cleese's Personal Best". youtube.com. [Cleese before the sketch:]"There was a sketch young Eric Rutle [Idle] wrote I liked, about theology."
  4. ^ Summers, Claude J. (2005). The Queer Encyclopedia of Film & Television. Cleis Press. p. 68. ISBN 9781573442091.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Monty Python Special". Britcomedy Digest. November 1994.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Rapp, Linda (2004). "Chapman, Graham (1941–1989)" (PDF). glbtqarchive.com.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r McCall, Douglas (2013). Monty Python: A Chronology, 1969–2012, 2d ed. McFarland & Company. pp. 325–1E599C. ISBN 9780786478118.
  8. ^ Larsen, Darl, 1963– (2008). Monty Python's flying circus : an utterly complete, thoroughly unillustrated, absolutely unauthorized guide to possibly all the references : from Arthur "Two-Sheds" Jackson to Zambesi. Lanham, Md. ISBN 9780810861312. OCLC 187417654.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ a b Larsen, Darl (2008). Monty Python's Flying Circus: An Utterly Complete, Thoroughly Unillustrated, Absolutely Unauthorized Guide to Possibly All the References : from Arthur "Two-Sheds" Jackson to Zambesi. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 57, 185. ISBN 9780810861312.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Yoakum, Jim (1997). Graham Crackers: Fuzzy Memories, Silly Bits, and Outright Lies. Career Pr Inc. pp. 42, 45–46, 48, 92. ISBN 9781564143341.
  11. ^ a b "Monty Python Talks About... Writing". youtube.com.
  12. ^ a b Morgan, David (2005). Monty Python Speaks. Dey Street Books. ISBN 9780380804795.
  13. ^ a b Ross, Robert (1999). Monty Python Encyclopedia. London, England: Batsford Books. p. 134. ISBN 978-1-57500-036-7.
  14. ^ a b c Hardcastle, Gary L.; Reisch, George A. (2006). Monty Python and philosophy: nudge nudge, think think!. Chicago, illinois: Open Court Publishing. p. 144. ISBN 9780812695939.
  15. ^ a b Chapman, Graham (1989). The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus: All the Words. New York City: Pantheon Books. p. 127. ISBN 9780679726470.
  16. ^ a b Palin, Michael (2008). Diaries 1969–1979: The Python Years (Michael Palin Diaries). St. Martin's Griffin. pp. 27, 53. ISBN 9780312384883.
  17. ^ Cleese, John (1984). Golden Skits of Wing-commander Muriel Volestrangler, F.R.H.S. and Bar. Methuen Publishing Ltd. ISBN 9780413567901.
  18. ^ "John Cleese Picks the Most Gut-Busting Monty Python Sketches". esquire.com. 15 December 2015.
  19. ^ a b "Interview: John Cleese and Eric Idle, founding members of Monty Python". ABC – Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 18 February 2016. TONY JONES: (…) And that particular skit from which those lines came, the revolving knives, Architect – you were both in that. Who wrote it? Who writes this sort of stuff? JOHN CLEESE: Chapman and I wrote it. Yeah, yes. (...) TONY JONES: But I think I'll go to Eric here 'cause I think you actually probably wrote the Bruce skit or were chiefly ... ERIC IDLE: We wrote the Bruces sketch together.
  20. ^ "Penguin on the Telly by Monty Python". madmusic.com.
  21. ^ Monty Python (1994). The Fairly Incomplete & Rather Badly Illustrated Monty Python Song Book. Methuen. ISBN 0-413-69000-8.
  22. ^ a b Wilmut, Roger (1990). From Fringe to Flying Circus. Heinemann. p. 212. ISBN 9780413507709.
  23. ^ Topping, Richard (2008). Monty Python: From The Flying Circus to Spamalot. Virgin Books. p. 32. ISBN 9780753513156.
  24. ^ "Graham Chapman's Eulogy Presented by John Cleese". funeralwise.com.
  25. ^ a b c "Monty Python's Best Philosophy Sketches". openculture.com.
  26. ^ "Monty Python's Personal Best (2006)".
  27. ^ Chapman, Graham; Cleese, John; Gilliam, Terry; Idle, Eric; Jones, Terry; Palin, Michael (1990) [1989]. "Twenty-nine". Monty Python's Flying Circus: Just the Words. Vol. Two. London: Mandarin. p. 78. ISBN 0-7493-0226-7. I am Inspector Leopard of Scotland Yard, Special Fraud Film Director Squad.
  28. ^ "Top Ten Monty Python Sketches". Rafferty's Rules. 3 November 2015.
  29. ^ "Utterly Utterly Live Comic Relief". qsulis.org.uk. WEA.
  30. ^ "Miss Anne Elk by Monty Python". madmusic.com.
  31. ^ "EDIT NEWS: Monty Python's Flying Circus – Intro". Archived from the original on 21 August 2004. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  32. ^ WTTW Channel 11 – Monty Python's Flying Circus – "Missing Political Choreographer Opening" (1980) – YouTube
  33. ^ Shircore, Ian. "Douglas Adams: The First and Last Tapes". darkmatter.com.

External links[edit]