by Hans ten Cate
Tuesday, 28 May 2002

The Comedy Network of Canada sent us three big announcements this month:

  1. They will begin airing Monty Python's Flying Circus (special one-hour versionas at that!) starting June 17
  2. As a warm-up, they will also host a five-day Python-a-Thon showing five of the best episodes of the Flying Circus (June 10 - 14)
  3. The return of Monty Python coincides with the presentation of the Sir Peter Ustinov / Comedy Network Award to John Cleese at the Banff Television Festival on June 10

Monty Python's Flying Circus Premieres June 17 on Canada's The Comedy Network

The Comedy Network is announcing that they will air never seen before, one-hour versions of Monty Python's Flying Circus starting Monday, June 17 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Now, Comedy Network viewers will see the entire 45 episodes of Monty Python in their most original form (including some rarely-seen footage), unedited for time in complete one-hour episodes. The series will be televised in chronological order as it was originally broadcast on BBC.

Since the original episodes were only 30 or so minutes long, I couldn't resist asking Comedy Network rep Scott Henderson about the "hour long" versions. "The episodes that we will be showing are the same ones that aired on A & E a few years back," said Henderson, "which have never aired in Canada."

The Comedy Network says it will air the original, 30-minute episodes in their entirety, plus commercials, plus additional material to round out the shows to one-hour in length. "They've added to the end certain sketches from other episodes," said Henderson. However, the A&E episodes did contain some material that has been rarely seen in North America, according to Mr. Henderson.

I hope that The Comedy Network won't experience the same backlash A&E experienced when they began airing the Flying Circus in July 1999. Although A&E claimed to have issued the episodes directly from the BBC master tapes, some fans spotted some unusual editing (e.g., missing portions of sketches) and complained heavily on the A&E messageboards. Fans did admit to seeing new material not present in old PBS and MTV viewings, but there remained confusion as to what constituted "pristine" copies of the original Flying Circus episodes. Possibly fans were watching the "random" sketches tucked at the end of the hour and thought whole episodes were being cut up...

"Monty Python is a comedic masterpiece that commands it be televised with the utmost respect," says Ed Robinson, General Manager and President of The Comedy Network.

For you Canadians, we hope Mr. Robinson will keep his word.

'Python-a-Thon' Best-Of Festival Runs June 10-14

As a warm-up to the premiere, the Comedy Network will also present five of the best Monty Python episodes of all time, as selected by Canadian television critics, during a five-day Python-a-Thon Festival, Monday, June 10 through Friday, June 14 at 4:30 p.m. ET/PT.

These episodes are:
  • Monday, June 10 - "Full Frontal Nudity," featuring the legendary "Dead Parrot" sketch.
  • Tuesday, June 11 - "Dinsdale," featuring the also legendary "Minister of Silly Walks."
  • Wednesday, June 12 - "The Money Programme," featuring the still legendary "Argument Clinic."
  • Thursday, June 13 - "Salad Days," featuring the additionally legendary "Cheese Shop" sketch and the completely legendary parody of Sam Peckinpah's Salad Days.
  • Friday, June 14 - "Whicker's World," featuring the totally legendary "Mrs. Premise & Mrs. Conclusion" sketch.

John Cleese Receives Sir Peter Ustinov/Comedy Network Award June 10

The "Python-a-Thon Festival" begins the same day (June 10) that John Cleese is to receive the Sir Peter Ustinov/Comedy Network Award, presented annually at the Rockie Awards Gala at the Banff Television Festival, in recognition of outstanding achievement in a body of work.

"I feel very, very humble that I have been chosen to receive this wonderful award," says Cleese. "Of course, I'm not going to pretend that I don't deserve it. Obviously I do. And, frankly, it has been some time coming. But let's not get into all that, as it will impinge my humility."

This delicious news was also reported in the Daily Llama back in February (see John Cleese to be Honoured at Banff TV Festival).


  • Press Release, "IT'S... MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS (JUNE 17)," The Comedy Network, May 23, 2002