He's Not The Messiah, He's A Very Naughty Boy
Radio 2 documentary presented by Sanjeev Bhaskar looking at the success of Monty Python's Life Of Brian
- BBC Radio 2
- Sanjeev Bhaskar, Terry Jones, John Goldstone, Carol Cleveland, Sonia Jones, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese and Eric Idle
- Caroline Hughes
When Monty Python's Life Of Brian was released in 1979, it was denounced by many around the world as blasphemous, but became an instant box-office smash.
Thirty years later, it is regularly voted one of the funniest films ever, topping a Radio Times poll in October 2009. In this programme, comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar celebrates this anarchic British classic, looking at the film's origins, the shoot in Tunisia and its controversial afterlife.
In the Python's absurdist take on the story of Christ, a man called Brian (played by Graham Chapman) is mistaken for the Messiah and attempts to escape the attentions of his devoted followers. A deft satire on religious intolerance, the film brilliantly lampooned Biblical epics like Ben Hur. George Harrison stepped in with the money, setting up Handmade films to get it made, because he wanted to see the film. And it provided many unforgettable scenes and peerless lines, such as John Cleese's Roman Legionnaire correcting Brian's Latin graffiti: "What have the Romans ever done for us?", "Welease Woger" and the sing-along crucifixion finale.
Contributors to the programme include the film's director, Terry Jones; producer John Goldstone; Carol Cleveland; and Sonia Jones, who sang the title song. Listeners hear Michael Palin recall the moment of inspiration in a Paris bar; Terry Gilliam talks about his fantasy space ship animation; John Cleese remembers the pain of being crucified in Tunisia; Carol Cleveland recalls working with Spike Milligan, who made a cameo appearance as a prophet; and Eric Idle remembers the less-than-enthusiastic response to Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.