Saturday, October 24, 2009

Observation regarding Monty Python

I've been watching that six-part documentary that's been showing on IFC this week. I still have two parts to go, I think (recording it with the DVD recorder). Anyhow, there was one bit of information that was new to me and made me contemplate how things might be if not for Terry Jones.

I was already aware that in the olden days, the BBC had a practice of "wiping" master tapes so that they could be re-used as a method of saving money. I knew about this because all but (if I recall correctly) two of the second Doctor's (as in Doctor Who) adventures were wiped, plus some odd bits & pieces from here & there. Thus there is hardly any televisual record of Patrick Troughton as the Doctor.

After Monty Python (the TV series) had finished its run, the BBC were going to wipe the tapes. When the Pythons found out about this, Terry Jones went and personally bought all the master tapes. And just to show how stupid the BBC were about this kind of thing, they didn't even consider the value of the intellectual property (that is, the "contents") of the tapes. Jones was able to buy them for about £90 each, which was how much it would cost the BBC to replace them with new tapes. He then stored them in his attic. A few years later when someone at the BBC realized that there was still money to be made from re-running the series, they had to go ask Jones if they could get the tapes back.

Which left me to contemplate what my own life might be like if not for the humorous influence of the work of Monty Python, not to mention all the hours of enjoyment I would have missed and the friends I might not have made through a common love of their comedic work.

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