Monty Python in Aberystwyth

Synopsis: In a strange turn of events, Sue Jones-Davies became the mayor of a Welsh town where Monty Python's Life of Brian was still banned - the film where she played the female lead. So she decided to lift the ban. This short documentary takes a look at the controversy at the time.
Genre: Documentary
28 min


Aberystwyth, Wales, 1979.

From a distant land, came

a story of faith and religion

that would shock

and divide a nation.

A story so shocking,

it would change the destiny of this

small town for nearly three decades.

Until one would rise to power,

follow their destiny,

and change the course of history.

All in the name

of the one, true Messiah.

He's not the Messiah.

He's a very naughty boy.

Ooh, right.

Sorry, what was the name again?


Yes, Brian, of course, sorry.

So this is the story of how

Monty Python's comedy classic,

The Life Of Brian, the number one

comedy film of all time,

came to be banned in Aberystwyth

for over 30 years.

And how that ban was finally lifted

in the most unusual circumstances.

Erm, cue titles.

Our story begins in Britain

in the early 1970s,

which, looking back,

was a very different place.

There were strikes, economic

hardship, a Cold War,

and let's not mention the haircuts,

the clothes and the side-burns.

In fact, there wasn't much

to smile about,

except a very unusual comedy show.

Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Its brilliant, irreverent,

surreal silliness

left no part of the

establishment un-satirised,

and completely revolutionised

TV comedy.

The series, Monty Python's Flying

Circus, had begun in 1968,

and ran for just over five years,

but made household names

of the Pythons.

Our chief weapon is surprise.

Surprise and fear.

Fear and surprise. Our two

weapons are fear and surprise.

John Cleese, Michael Palin,

Eric Idle,

Graham Chapman, Terry Jones

and Terry Gilliam.

They're unique comedy developed

a huge cult following,

which remains to this day.

It's a comedy that doesn't see

anything as out of bounds.

I know it was something that my

parents didn't like, but I did,

which kind of made it

more rebellious.

It sort of just destroyed

all the sappy comedy,

the kind of more lightweight comedy,

the more jump in the air

and have fun comedy.

And it just put a machine gun

to all of that.

They're first original film was

Monty Python And The Holy Grail,

which was based upon

the Arthurian legend.

# Arthur, King Arthur

That legendary king

Then, in 1977, the team reunited

to make their next project.

Originally titled,

Jesus Christ, Lust For Glory,

it was clear The Life Of Brian

was going to be their most

controversial project to date.

When we started thinking about it,

I can remember thinking,

"I bet you we're going to get

some religious nutcases

"taking pot shots at us."

But then, as we went on, and it

became clear what it was about,

I kind of relaxed a bit,

because I thought,

it obviously wasn't about

questioning belief,

it's about the priesthood really.

Flames lit.

The Life Of Brian, the story of an

ordinary man mistaken as a Messiah,

was intended to lampoon

the religious fervour

of New Testament era Judea.

Shooting took place in Tunisia

in the summer of 1978,

and during production,

the stars seemed unconcerned

about the controversial

subject matter of the film.

We had no idea what it was going

to be like. No idea at all.

We seem to be involved

in making history,

and what we intend to do is put a

sort of modern consciousness on it.

You get sort of

suburban attitudes in AD 33,

and it's about how

they're complaining,

and grumpy and unpleasant.

Cut. That's fine. Enough. Cut.

As philosophers,

we're pretty nth rate.

I mean, we're not very high powered

as philosophers or social critics.

So our only claim

to people's attention

is that we can sometimes

make them laugh.

But within that context,

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