The Complete And Utter History Of Britain. Image shows from L to R: Terry Jones, Michael Palin. Copyright: London Weekend Television.

The Complete And Utter History Of Britain

ITV sketch show charting British history. 6 episodes (1 series) in 1969. Stars Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Colin Gordon, Roddy Maude-Roxby and others.


Only six episodes were broadcast, but the series was written and produced as seven editions. Shortly after recording Episode 2, LWT bosses decided to cut the series to six episodes, making a new first from the highlights of Episodes 1 and 2.

Director Maurice Murphy was so incensed with LWT's decision to bastardise the opening programmes that he personally kept his own private copies of what he had filmed as Episode 1 and Episode 2.

Until recently, it was believed that the entire series had been wiped. However, the first episode (as broadcast) was discovered in the mid-/late-2000s, albeit missing a little from the beginning of the programme (approximately 30-60 seconds).

Shortly afterwards, the first two episodes (as produced - so containing unbroadcast sketches) were discovered in a bank vault in director Maurice Murphy[/z]'s home country of Australia.

Then, in 2006, the third episode (aired as the second) appeared online, seemingly from a private collection in the United States of America.

Terry Jones personally owns copies of the filmed-on-location sketches and inserts to the show. However, as all of the sound effects and incidental music were added during the audience screenings, the surviving footage is reportedly fairly 'flat' and doesn't give the real feeling of the series.

The episodes of The Complete And Utter History Of Britain known to exist are:

- The first full episode (as written)
- The second full episode (as written)
- The first broadcast episode (which was a merged version of the above two episodes)
- The second broadcast episode (written as the third episode)

Like Ripping Yarns, Terry Jones's brother came up with the idea for the series.