Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition! Or for lost media to turn up out of the blue. A key part of the Monty Python lineage has resurfaced, after 54 years, and it turns out someone just hadn’t checked the right archive.
Monty Python is a troupe responsible for some of the best comedy series and best comedy movies ever. Before the members took off, two of them made another show, The Complete And Utter History Of Britain, in the late ’60s. Michael Palin and Terry Jones produced the project, a satirical rundown of British history.
One of the best TV series of 1969, this was crucial to Monty Python’s history, because it led to the group’s proper effort together, Flying Circus, starting the same year. Palin and Jones would be joined by John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, and Eric Idle. Until now, that first effort was thought to be lost to the ages.
Really, it was just mislabelled in the depths of British TV channel ITV. British Comedy Guide states that all six episodes have been found. “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,” a statement reads.
Thankfully, ITV has a bespoke streaming service in the UK, and the episodes were soon cleaned up, listed, and uploaded as appropriate. This is genuinely remarkable, a lot of television of that era in Britain and America is simply gone, whether due to freak accidents, wear and tear, or simply studios not futureproofing their work properly.
Doctor Who, for instance, lost whole swathes of early episodes due to a fire at the BBC. There are stories in one of the best sci-fi series ever that we’ll never see as they simply don’t exist any more. Alas, one piece of history has been restored.
The Complete And Utter History of Britain is available to watch on ITVX. We’ll keep you informed on US availability. In the meantime, we have a list of the best rom-coms for more laughs, and you can check out our guide to Wednesday season 2 if you prefer things a little spookier.