Monty Python returning to British TV for first time in 35 years

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment UK
·3-min read
Monty Python's Flying Circus (BBC)
Monty Python's Flying Circus (BBC)

Monty Python’s Flying Circus, known for its subversive and innuendo-laden humour, is finally returning to UK terrestrial television.

That’s TV — which broadcasts on Freeview, Sky and Freesat — has acquired the exclusive network television rights to all four seasons of the comedy which was first shown on the BBC between 1969-1974

The episodes will be aired uncut every weeknight at 9pm from Monday, 14 March, 2022.

The BBC last repeated the series nearly 35 years ago in 1988.

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Created by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, the series has been described by The New Yorker as the “funniest series of programmes ever made specifically for television” and, in 2015, Rolling Stone Magazine named it as the “Greatest Sketch-Comedy TV Show of All Time”.

The six members of the Monty Python team, 1969. Left to right: Terry Jones, Graham Chapman (1941 - 1989), John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
The six members of the Monty Python team, 1969. Left to right: Terry Jones, Graham Chapman (1941 - 1989), John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The surviving Pythons have long campaigned for the show to return to network television. In 2018, Michael Palin told Radio Times: “I am amazed it hasn’t been repeated.”

John Cleese suggested that the BBC was refusing to rerun the show because it was 'too funny'. Cleese told Radio 4’s Today show in 2018: “It might not contrast well with some of the comedy they're doing now, that's the only explanation I've got.”

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The show was regarded as subversive and anti-establishment when first shown. Minutes of a BBC programme review board from 1970 reveal that the BBC’s head of features had found parts “disgusting”. The controller of BBC1 complained that the programme was in “appalling bad taste” while head of light entertainment, Bill Cotton, believed the Python’s “seemed to have some sort of death wish.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 20:  (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, John Cleese and Terry Jones attend the closing night after party for 'Monty Python Live (Mostly)' at The O2 Arena on July 20, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, John Cleese and Terry Jones attend the closing night after party for 'Monty Python Live (Mostly)' at The O2 Arena on July 20, 2014 (Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Monty Python forms part of That’s TV’s new schedule of classic comedy in response to the soap-focused schedules launched this month by both BBC1 and ITV.

That’s TV Head of Programming, Kris Vaiksalu said: “For over 50 years, Monty Python’s Flying Circus has had audiences in stitches of laughter. The show is widely regarded as one of the greatest comedy series ever made in the world. It is truly timeless, and its influence continues to be seen today.

“The Pythons are part of our national heritage but for too long this iconic show has been left buried in the archives. We are proud to have acquired the exclusive free TV rights to every episode and will be showing them all in full and uncut on That’s TV this spring.”

Whose Line Is It Anyway? (Channel 4)
Whose Line Is It Anyway? (Channel 4)

The show joins classic shows such as The Kumars at No.42, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Harry Enfield’s Television Programme, Russ Abbot’s Madhouse, The Benny Hill Show, Kenny Everett and Les Dawson’s entertainment show Sez Les.

In 2018, Monty Python's Flying Circus and a huge swathe of the Python back catalogue was made available to stream on Netflix.

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