Monty Python's Flying Circus was a comedy television series that originally aired in Britain from 1969 until 1974. It became a hit series in Britain and soon after was syndicated to the United States, where it earned a huge cult following.
The show was written by and starred the members of the Monty Python comedy troupe, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, as well as Carol Cleveland, and other bit players.
The show, like its precursor that featured several of the Python cast, Do Not Adjust Your Set,, was characterized by numerous, usually unrelated skits that came and went at a frenetic pace. The skits ranged from the completely silly and non-sensical, to the bitingly satirical (usually the latter). The show often targeted the idiosyncracies of British life, and was at times politically charged. The members of Monty Python were highly educated, and their comedy was often pointedly intelligent, with numerous references to philosophers and literary figures. They frequently appeared in women's clothes. Skits were often punctuated with Terry Gilliam's graphics and animations, which tended to be quite bizarre.
The show aged very well and remains widely popular decades later. Because of its frequent rebroadcasts, many of its skits have become ingrained into English-speaking culture, and are commonly referenced in other shows, movies, etc.
The first episode was recorded September 7, 1969, and the first broadcast was October 5, 1969. The final episode was recorded November 16, 1974, and the final original broadcast was on December 5, 1974. There were a total of 45 episodes. No new episodes were produced from the October, 1970 until December, 1971, and no original broadcasts occurred from December, 1970 through October 1972. John Cleese left the Monty Python group after the third season, and so did not appear in the final six episodes (ie, season four) of the series. He did, however, get writing credits in season four where applicable. Neil Innes and Douglas Adams are notable as the only two non-Pythons to get writing credits in the show--both in the same episode late season four.
Well-known skits include: