A decades old British comedy show featuring Monty Python’s Michael Palin and Terry Jones is recovered after it was thought to be long lost. Jones and Palin were two of Monty Python’s six founding cast members, which also included Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gillam, and Eric Idle. As a comedy troupe, Monty Python begin their act through the sketch comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus before going on to make a number of feature films, including Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Life of Brian.
A 54-year-old pre-Monty Python comedy series called A Complete and Utter History of Britain has been recovered by ITV, according to British Comedy Guide. Featuring Palin and Jones, the six-part spoof documentary aired in January and February 1969. At one point, it was thought that only the first two installments of A Complete and Utter History of Britain had survived past the broadcast, but upon further investigation, ITV realized that the series had simply been “mis-catalogued.” Check out the statement from ITV below:
“The series had been sitting in the ITV vaults though mis-catalogued for decades, but through the identification programme we were able to make this remarkable find.
“We flagged it to our colleagues in streaming, had the film cleaned and restored from the 16mm telerecordings and then finally made available to our viewers for the first time since the original broadcasts.”
A Complete and Utter History of Britain was originally shot in seven parts, with the first two later edited down into one for the television broadcast. Content-wise, A Complete and Utter History of Britain was filmed as a spoof documentary of the British Isles. The mockumentary united Palin and Jones, who would go on to help form Monty Python soon after its broadcast. Monty Python’s Flying Circus ended up airing that same year, in October 1969.
Parodying British history as Palin and Jones did in A Complete and Utter History of Britain would lay the groundwork for later Monty Python work. Several of the troupe’s movies poke fun at history, whether it be King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail or Jesus in Life of Brian. From the sounds of even the title alone, A Complete and Utter History of Britain exists in a similar vein to later Monty Python movies and shows.
Now, comedy fans can see this pre-Monty Python work through ITVX Premium. The buildup to this moment is significant, as the previous surviving material for A Complete and Utter History of Britain was released on Blu-ray in 2014. Audiences who have gotten a pre-Monty Python tease with those episodes can now see the full show as A Complete and Utter History of Britain is recovered at last.
Source: British Comedy Guide