The Pythons, in today’s money

Did you all watch BBC 4’s Holy Flying Circus on Wednesday? I thought it was fantastic.* Everyone seems to be singling Darren Boyd out as being amazing (and he was) but I think the others performed equally brilliantly and should be applauded and lauded too. Obviously, since this is a writer’s blog – the main bulk of the praise has to go to Tony Roche for being awesome.

Well done, you.

I was thinking about the Terry Jones snippet at the end, about how if they were doing it today (or was it again?) they probably wouldn’t bother, and I was wondering what would happen if Monty Python was trying to get on the air today?

I know each member had already proved themselves multiple times over before being given (more or less) free rein to do what they wanted; but if they were new writers who had to go through a development process, would the results have been similar?

Take one of the classic sketches, like the Dead Parrot Sketch:

Would that still be a classic if they’d had to take extensive notes on it? Or would it have gone something like this:

Hi guys,

love the script, love it!!! I’ve attached some notes, only minor things. A mere polish really; but enough to turn it up to 11!!!! This is going to be great, really looking forward to it!!!!!

Love ya!

A. Dickhead
















(There’s a PDF of this here for those of you who prefer such things)

A month or two later, during which time no communication whatsoever has been sent:

Hi guys,

so here it is!!!! We’re filming tomorrow. I know you wanted to play one of the parts yourself and that’s great, but you’re just too old to play either part as they’ve been re-written. Sorry about that, but this really is for the good of the show, I know you’ll understand. Anyway, read, laugh and love it!!!!!!

This show is going to be huge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love ya!

A. Dickhead







(PDF here)

A year goes by before this email arrives on the day of broadcast, dated two days after the last email:

Hi guys,

so we filmed yesterday … and things didn’t go quite to plan. Hey, what does in this industry!!!!! You know how it is during production, sometimes things change last minute. I think we got the essence of it down though; but basically:

We couldn’t get a pet shop so we filmed in a petrol station. Obviously, the whole dead parrot thing doesn’t work so we said it’s a packet of cheese and onion crisps (nation’s favourite flavour!!!!) which had gone a bit soft. Hilarious.

The actress playing the owner (great tits!!!!!) couldn’t make the whole of the shoot, so we gave half her lines to the ASSISTANT OWNER (who was, wait for it, KATIE PRICE!!!!!! (even better tits!!!!)). It was quite brilliant really, we made the owner refer the problem to the assitant owner!!!! Actually, maybe that should have been MANAGER? We can probably fix that with ADR.

The actor playing Mr. Pra (we shortened it so it sounded ‘hip’!!!!) forgot a few of his lines, but he covered it with some really funny swearing. Don’t worry, it looks great!!!! The whole crew fell about laughing!!!!

We had a small problem while we were changing to the other pet shop, the director had a small nervous breakdown. Luckily, we got a new guy in who’s done loads of MTV videos and he really gave it a dark and edgy feel for the last thirty seconds – lots of whip pans and explosions!!!!!!!!! He didn’t like the actor playing Mr. Pra though, so he fired him and divvied his line out between the OWNER (who’d come back by that point, but had lost her costume – her new one is even sexier!!!!) and the ASSISTANT OWNER (who will probably become the MANAGER).

Other than that though, it’s exactly as you wrote it and you’ll love it!!!! I’ve decided it’s not fair me being a co-writer on this, so I’ve decided to withdraw my credit – you’ll get sole, joint writing credit!!!!!! I know that’s what you wanted.

See you at the BAFTAs!!!!!!!!!!!

Love ya!

A. Dickhead

When the show inevitably flops and is soundly trounced in reviews … you can pretty much guarantee they’ll all share one sentiment:

Cleese and Chapman can’t write! They have no concept of how to string two funny words together let alone create an entire sketch.

With the unproduced writers’ lament echoing across forums the length and breadth of the nation:

Who commissions this shit? I can do better than this, why will no one give me a chance?

If comedy is all about timing, thank fuck Monty Python happened forty odd years ago.


* I had a slight wobble over how John Cleese came across during the debate, I understand the dramatic reasons for it and I know it was heavily prefaced with THIS DIDN’T HAPPEN but I can’t help thinking I’d be a little pissed off if that was me; but apart from that minor quibble I thought it was brilliant.

Categories: Random Witterings, Sad Bastard | 1 Comment

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One thought on “The Pythons, in today’s money

  1. Pingback: 2011 « The Jobbing Scriptwriter

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