Now, a rare peek inside the binders has uncovered all the secrets of the Pythons’ earliest days. Although comic weirdness had been introduced to the BBC by The Goon Show, Monty Python went even further. Monty Python’s Flying Circus was first transmitted at 22:50 on 5 October 1969.
The BBC response, the archives make clear, was far less positive. At the weekly meeting where senior managers discussed the output, the head of factual had found Python “disgusting”, arts had thought it “nihilistic and cruel”, while religion objected to a Gilliam animation in which “Jesus … had swung his arm”. The BBC One controller sensed the makers “continually going over the edge of what is acceptable”.
50 years later, it’s still the silliest TV show I’ve ever watched.