Holy Flying Circus. Image shows from L to R: Terry Gilliam (Phil Nichol), Graham Chapman (Tom Fisher), Michael Palin (Charles Edwards), John Cleese (Darren Boyd), Terry Jones (Rufus Jones), Eric Idle (Steve Punt). Copyright: Hillbilly Productions / TalkbackThames.

Holy Flying Circus

BBC Four comedy drama. 1 episode in 2011. Stars Darren Boyd, Charles Edwards, Steve Punt, Rufus Jones, Tom Fisher, Phil Nichol, Stephen Fry and others.

Holy Flying Circus

Dramatisation of the blasphemy row that surrounded the film Monty Python's Life Of Brian

Comedy Drama
BBC Four
Darren Boyd, Charles Edwards, Steve Punt, Rufus Jones, Tom Fisher, Phil Nichol, Stephen Fry, Simon Greenall and others
Tony Roche
Owen Harris
Kate Norrish and Polly Leys

In 1979, the film Monty Python's Life Of Brian caused outrage around the world. The film depicted the life of Brian Cohen, a first-century Judean who is mistaken for the Messiah after joining an anti-Roman group.

Nuns with banners picketed cinemas, councils banned the film without even seeing it and the religious group Festival of Light organised a concerted campaign against the film, trying to get it banned.

Against this backdrop Michael Palin and John Cleese found themselves facing prominent society figures Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark, Mervyn Stockwood, in a television debate in front of a live studio audience to defend their film against charges of blasphemy: but who won?

Written by Tony Roche (In The Loop, The Thick Of It) Holy Flying Circus is a fantastical re-imagining of the controversy surrounding the release of Life Of Brian. Witty and humorous in tone, the comedy drama incorporates surreal cutaways including puppetry and animation in telling its narrative.

Production Details

Production companies
Laugh track

Broadcast details

First broadcast
Wednesday 19th October 2011 on BBC Four at 9pm
Episode length
90 minutes
Last repeat
Wednesday 20th April 2016 at 11:40pm on Gold