Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Monty Python's Flying Circus

UK tv series (1969-1970, 1972-1974). BBC. Pr John Howard Davies, Ian MacNaughton. Writers Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin. Starring Chapman, Cleese, Carol Cleveland, Idle, Jones, Palin. 45 30min episodes. Colour.

As a kind of Taproot Text for much UK tv and movie fantasy from the early 1970s on, MPFC is of great importance, though its contents tended to the Surrealist end of fantasy (see Surrealism): the deconstructive energy of the show was inherently inimical to the internal narrative consistency that normally marks fantasy tales. Of the movies made by the Python team the most relevant fantasy titles are Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979), although And Now For Something Completely Different (1971) and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983) contain fantasticated sketches. Gilliam and Jones carried the spirit of this Affinity Group into fantasy Cinema, and Jones has written several books of fantasy interest (see also Michael Foreman; Brian Froud). Palin and Jones wrote and appeared in the two series of Ripping Yarns (1977, 1979), many of whose parodic stories were fantasy or quasi-fantasy – e.g., "Across the Andes by Frog"; together they also wrote Bert Fegg's Nasty Book for Boys and Girls (1974; vt Dr Fegg's Nasty Book of Knowledge US; rev vt Dr Fegg's Encyclopedia of All World Knowledge 1985), as well as Ripping Yarns (coll 1978) and More Ripping Yarns (coll 1980). Palin has written several books, most nonfiction, but including Small Harry and the Toothache Pills (1982) and The Mirrorstone: A Ghost Story with Holograms (graph 1986), a Children's Fantasy illustrated by Alan Lee. Chapman died tragically young; his A Liar's Autobiography (1980) is fascinating. Cleese and Connie Booth (then married) created and starred in the nonfantasy Fawlty Towers (1975, 1979), and produced associated books. Idle wrote the scatological sf/fantasy novel "Hello Sailor" (1975) and Pass the Butler (1982), and, with Neil Innes, was the creator of Rutland Weekend Television (1975-1976), a Pythonesque series that had a spinoff "documentary", The Rutles, parodying the career of The Beatles; the series' associated book, by Idle, was Rutland Dirty Weekend Book (1976). [JC/JG/DRL]

Monty Python books: Monty Python's Big Red Book (coll 1972) and The Brand New Monty Python Bok (coll 1973; vt The Brand New Monty Python Papperbok 1974) both ed Idle and assembled as The Complete Works of Shakespeare and Monty Python: Volume One – Monty Python (omni 1981), with all Pythons variously involved; Monty Python and the Holy Grail * (1977), movie tie; Monty Python's Life of Brian; and Montypythonscrapbook * (coll 1979) ed Idle, containing the movie tie; Monty Python's The Meaning of Life * (1983 US), movie tie; The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus: All the Words (coll 1989 2 vols).


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.