In the previous article, I’ve tried to cover at least some most basic fact about this group of geniuses but we haven’t seen any stamps. We’ll fix that now.
What they did and where are they now
I’ll use this section to shorty talk about the engagement of group members before they met, during the period of filing and after that.
In the UK, a number of “inventors” are produced on Oxbridge (Oxford University + Cambridge University). The University of Oxford was founded in 1096 as the second in the World (first was the University of Bologna, founded in 1088), while the University of Cambridge was founded in 1209 as fourth ever. England had to wait for the new university (after these two) for few more centuries. So, it’s not a surprise that during the ages there was an intense rivalry between these two. The Monty Python’s story is not one such story. Au contraire, it’s the story of collaboration.
Graham Chapman, John Cleese, and Eric Idle were a product of Cambridge and Terry Jones and Michael Palin came from Oxford. Terry Gilliam was the only American that joined the party. He met Palin in New York in 1964 and the eternal love could start.
Before they started shooting “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”, all of them worked on many different projects. There is no point to talk about them all so I’ll choose the ones that I find really important for everything that happened later.
The collaboration with David Frost resulted with the series “The Frost Report” (28 episodes in 1966 and 1967) where Chapman and Cleese got their hands dirty. The same collaboration was also responsible for the sketch-based film “How to Irritate People” filmed in 1968. In this one, besides Chapman and Cleese, we could also see Palin.
In my opinion, maybe the most important was the “DNAYS” or “Do Not Adjust Your Set” filmed from 1967 till 1969 (27 episodes divided into 2 seasons). On this project Idle, Jones and Palin worked with Sir David John White aka David Jason (yup, that’s “Del Boy” from “Only Fools and Horses”). Terry Gilliam was also involved in the animation work between sketches.
Everything was oiled and the real rubbing could start now 😊
I won’t go into details here. There is simply too much to write about who did what on the series. I would only like to point out that Terry Gilliam was the one that was responsible for the well-known animations. He started as an animator in the group just to become the full member later.
It’s important to mention that some of the famous collaborators were Douglas Adams (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”), Ringo Starr and Steve Martin.
I want to emphasize one guy especially. He’s known as “The Seventh Python” due to his work on Python series and movies. His name is Neil Innes.
Once more, I won’t go into details in this section. This wild bunch of comedians was really very creative and they gave us really a lot. I’ll mention only some of the most important projects here:
- “Time Bandits” – a 1981 fantasy movie (Cleese, Gilliam and Palin & Shelley Duvall and Sean Connery & others)
- “Brazil” – 1 1985 SF dystopian movie directed and written by Gilliam (Palin & Robert De Niro, Peter Vaughan, Jonathan Pryce & others)
- “Labyrinth” – an adventure musical filmed in 1986. It’s well-known that David Bowie played the role of Jareth the Goblin King. Maybe less-known is the fact that Terry Jones wrote the first draft of the movie script in 1984.
- “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” – a 1988 fantasy movie (Gilliam, Idle & John Neville, Sarah Polley, and Uma Thurman & others)
- “Erik the Viking” – a 1989 fantasy-comedy movie directed and written by Jones. He also starred in the movie together with Cleese & Tim Robbins & others.
- “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” – a 1998 black comedy movie directed by Gilliam (Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Tobey Maguire & others)
- “Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives” from 2004 and “Terry Jones’ Barbarians” from 2006 – two history documentary series written and hosted by Terry Jones; He was also involved on the “Crusades” documentary series filmed in 1995 and the 2002 TV-movie “The Surprising History of Sex and Love”.
Michael Palin filmed a number of travel documentary movies with some of them being: “Michael Palin: Around the World in 80 Days” (1988), “Michael Palin’s Hemingway Adventure” (1999), “Sahara with Michael Palin” (2001 & 2002) and “Brazil with Michael Palin” (2012).
Eric Idle gave his voice to the Declan Desmond in “The Simpsons” in the episodes “‘Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky” (season 14), “Fat Man and Little Boy” (season 16), “Springfield Up”(season 18), “The Spy Who Learned Me” (season 23).
Idle is also extremely “guilty” for the musical comedy “Monty Python’s Spamalot”. It’s based on the story told in the “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. Eric is responsible for the music and lyrics here. This show was performed in a number of countries, starting in 2004 and being still on tour today.
And now… Finally… Some stamps
On 24 February 2011, Royal Mail launched an 8-stamp series celebrating 70 years of UK stage musicals. Half of them have a 1ST denomination, while the remaining 4 have the 97p denomination. What is interesting to us is that this series, among other well-known musicals, also includes the Monty Python’s Spamalot stamp.
2011 – Musicals
From left to right
1st row – Oliver, Blood brothers, We Will Rock You, Monty Python’s Spamalot
2nd row – Rocky Horror Show, Me and My Girl, Return to the Forbidden Planet, Billy Elliot
On 1 April 2015, Royal Mail did a great job once more. This time they decided to celebrate the April Fool’s Day with a 10-set stamp series “Comedy Greats”. There are others icons of stand-up and sketch show stars on these stamps, but today we’re interested in the one related to the Monty Pythons. You can see members of the crew with the certified member of the Ministry of Silly Walks taking his action in the background. All 10 stamps have the 1ST denomination.
2015 – Comedy Greats
From left to right
1st row – Spike Milligan, The Two Ronnies, Billy Connolly, Morecambe and Wise, Norman Wisdom
2nd row – Lenny Henry, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Monty Python, French and Saunders, Victoria Wood
In the previous article, we had an introduction to the wonderful world of Monty Python but we lacked stamps. I hope that today that injustice was at least partially fixed. In the next article, we’ll talk more about non-UK stamps related to the Pythons.
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