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14 Facts About Monty Python's Flying Circus

Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam joined forces to create a comedy troupe. In October of 1969 they debuted the TV show Monty Python’s Flying Circus on British TV, and the world hasn’t been the same since. Even if you were a devoted fan from the beginning and can recite their funniest sketches by heart, you probably don’t know what went on behind the scenes.    

2. THERE WERE MANY POTENTIAL TITLES.

A BBC executive originally wanted to name the series Baron von Took's Flying Circus as a nod to Barry Took, the network's comedy adviser, who was credited with bringing the Pythons and BBC together. He was also the warm-up comic for the studio audience before the first night of filming. But there were plenty of other considerations for the title, including Owl Stretching Time; Bunn, Wackett, Buzzard, Stubble and Boot; Whither Canada?; Ow! It's Colin Plint; A Horse, a Spoon, and a Bucket; The Toad Elevating Moment; and The Algy Banging Hour. The BBC, in a state of agitation, was keen on "Flying Circus," and the troupe added "Monty Python."

5. IT WAS ALMOST CANCELLED AFTER ONE EPISODE.

According to some unearthed internal memos, BBC1 controller Paul Fox said the troupe went "over the edge of what was acceptable." Head of arts features Stephen Heast said they "wallowed in the sadism of their humor." Entertainment chief Bill Cotton thought Monty Python "seemed to have some sort of death wish." Despite those thoughts, and low audience ratings, the show managed to hang on for three and a half seasons—for 45 total episodes—through 1974.

We loved Monty Python for exactly the reasons that they were almost canceled. You can read a lot more, including how Monty Python's Flying Circus almost didn't make it to the United States, at mental_floss.


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