Monty Python

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Monty Python's Flying Circus were four series of surrealist comedy television programmes made by John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam, who became known as the Monty Python team, or simply 'Python'. The series were originally broadcast on BBC 1 from 1969 to 1974. They were followed by And Now For Something Completely Different, a feature film spin-off, rehashing parts of the shows. Next, the Pythons produced two narrative feature films, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and the controversial Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979). Finally they made one more film, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983), which consisted of sketches on different aspects of life and death.

Michael Palin and Terry Jones met at Oxford University, and John Cleese and Graham Chapman met at Cambridge University. Eric Idle also went to Cambridge, and Cleese, Chapman and Idle were members of the Footlights, alongside a number of other comedy performers: Tim Brooke-Taylor, Bill Oddie, Graeme Garden (later to become The Goodies) and Jonathan Lynn (writer of Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister). Terry Gilliam, meanwhile, was the one member of Monty Python not born in England, having been born in Minnesota and educated at Occidental College. He met John Cleese while the Footlights were on tour in New York City. Gilliam occasionally appeared in person, but his main role was to produce animations. The programmes were original in that there was no attempt to end sketches with punchlines; instead, scenes would just change apruptly whenever an idea had become exhausted, and the animations were a feature of this continuity.

Before Python came about, the members of Python had worked on a number of different comedy programmes on radio and television including I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again, The Frost Report, At Last the 1948 Show, Twice a Fortnight, Do Not Adjust Your Set, We Have Ways of Making You Laugh, How to Irritate People, The Complete and Utter History of Britain and Doctor in the House.