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Not Quite the Messiah

Like the controversial film itself, the forthcoming BBC comedy-drama about The Life of Brian entitled Holy Flying Circus seems to be causing a reaction. However, it is not from those of religious beliefs. It’s from Monty Python themselves.

BBC Four’s Holy Flying Circus, written by Tony Roche, is based around the infamous 1979 TV debate involved John Cleese, Michael Palin, the Bishop of Southwark and Malcolm Muggeridge.


John Cleese has been vocal regarding his concerns with the programme. He said in The Independent that he had offered his help with the research but was never consulted. He believes that the script is ‘full of inaccuracies’.

Also commenting is Terry Gilliam who said: ‘I've had no involvement. I just met people yesterday who's seen it and they said it's really funny. Some in the group thought it was a bad idea because it's not us.”

But he said the film should go ahead: “The thought of Python stopping anyone... One of our members was making phone calls. Just stop it. Just stop it.”


However, it seems that those involved are making no pretence that it is slightly removed from the truth. It is billed as a ‘fantastical reimagining’. Charles Edwards, who plays Michael Palin, said that it is categorically not a biopic.

Terry Jones seems to be positive about Holy Flying Circus although he does say it is not overly accurate by saying in The Guardian: "The programme is very funny, but it's a mix of fantasy and reality. The portrayal of BBC executives (as over-the-top and dim-witted) is probably the only realistic part."

Whatever the objections, Holy Flying Circus will be screened on BBC Four next Wednesday at 9pm.

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