The pioneering comedy troupe celebrates half a century of sketches, films, stage shows, books and music this year
Monty Python, the beloved comedy group made up of John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and the late Graham Chapman are set to commemorate five decades of entertainment this year. In line with the benchmark date, a variety of new releases and events will be taking place including a BBC takeover, a BFI Southbank season, the release of the fully restored Monty Python’s Flying Circus series, a series of new Monty Python radio programmes executive-produced by Michael Palin, and a World Record attempt.
On the 5th October 1969, Monty Python’s Flying Circus first aired on BBC One – going on to run for four series, spawning four original films, numerous live shows and several albums.
Reflecting on the legacy and approaching celebrations, the Pythons commented: “Python has survived because we live in an increasingly Pythonesque world. Extreme silliness seems more relevant now than it ever was.”
Kicking off the anniversary celebrations, from 1 September, the BFI Southbank will curate a month-long season celebrating Monty Python – their roots, influences and subsequent work both as a group, and as individuals, entitled It’s…Monty Python At 50. The season will feature all the Monty Python feature films; oddities and curios from the depths of the BFI National Archive; back-to-back screenings of the entire series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus in a unique big-screen outing; and screenings of post-Python TV (Fawlty Towers, Out of the Trees, Ripping Yarns) and films (Jabberwocky, A Fish Called Wanda, Time Bandits, Wind in the Willows and more). There will also be rare screenings of pre-Python shows At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set, and a free exhibition of Python-related material from the BFI National Archive and The Monty Python Archive. More details will be announced in July.
Also in September, BBC Radio 4 will premiere five new radio specials, executive produced by Michael Palin, which will feature never-before-released material from the Monty Python sound archives. Join Michael to find out what John’s mother thought about her care home, the extra unpleasant things that were planned for Eric’s Brave Sir Robin, what exactly Terry Jones is so worried about, and why the infamous Fat Ignorant Bastards have never been more relevant to the world today. These will then be broadcast by SiriusXM in the US, to kick-off the anniversary celebrations Stateside.
BBC Two will celebrate Monty Python with defining career pieces from the archives. More details will be announced by the BBC in due course.
BBC AMERICA will celebrate the anniversary with a marathon of Monty Python’s Flying Circus episodes, Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
UMC and Virgin EMI will be re-issuing Monty Python Sings (again) for the first time on double vinyl, with the addition of the Stephen Hawking sings Monty Python… Galaxy Song track and new packaging artwork overseen by Terry Gilliam.
Network Distributing will release all 45 episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, on Blu-ray and DVD, fully restored for the first time ever. Each episode has been painstakingly restored using the original video and film elements exclusively for this release. All four series, along with unseen and excised footage, sketches and much more, will be presented in an exclusive 50th anniversary limited-edition box set available exclusively at montypython.networkonair.com/flyingcircushd from 29th July, with all four individual series available to purchase separately at a later date
For the literary fan, there will be 50th anniversary editions of a number of official Monty Python books released. All the original Monty Python books published by Methuen, since 1971, including Big Red Book and Brand New Papperbok, will be re-issued and on sale from 4th October.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus: 50 Years Of Hidden Treasures, which replicates some of the rarely seen documents from The Monty Python Archive in a celebration of the 45 episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus (as well as two Bavarian special episodes) and their afterlife in the Monty Python live shows, and includes a foreword by The Pythons, will be available from Carlton Books from 6th September in hardback.
The newly updated edition of Monty Python Speaks! The Complete Oral History, the ultimate record of Britain’s most rebellious and successful comedy act, featuring a new foreword by John Oliver of Last Week Tonight is available now.
On the actual anniversary day, 5th October, the first official Monty Python Guinness World Record attempt for the ‘Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Gumbys’ will take place at an iconic London venue. We’re asking everyone who’s interested in taking part to join the official Facebook group for the event at facebook.com/groups/gumbyworldrecord
Outside of broadcast & radio collaborations, events and major anniversary releases, Bravado, the official merchandiser for Monty Python, and Digital Stores, the brand’s online store management company, will work closely with the group to release new and exclusive merchandise collections throughout the year. Black Sheep Brewery will be releasing a special 50th anniversary edition of Monty Python’s Flying Circus cask ale – A Very Silly IPA (4.5% ABV), to run for September and October.
Don’t forget, the entire Monty Python catalogue of TV shows, films and documentaries is now available on Netflix.
2019 is promising to be a very Pythonesque year.