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Gold commissions 'Monty Python: The Meaning Of Live'

Thursday 4th September 2014, 9:30am

Monty Python. Image shows from L to R: Michael Palin, Terry Jones, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle.The TV channel Gold has commissioned Monty Python: The Meaning Of Live, a 90 minute documentary film about the various live stage shows Monty Python have performed.

The programme, billed as 'the ultimate Monty Python documentary', will focus on the iconic comedy group's early ground-breaking stage performances in the 1970s up to the reunion specials at the O2 Arena in London earlier this year. The film will include rare backstage footage and new interviews.

Monty Python: The Meaning Of Live will be overseen by the BAFTA award-winning Roger Graef OBE. His relationship with the troupe dates back to the 1970s, and includes filming the rehearsals, backstage and performances of their 1976 Amnesty International benefit show to form the documentary Pleasure At Her Majesty's.

As well as having access to archive footage, Graef was given unparalleled access to film behind-the-scenes in the run-up to this year's reunion shows, Monty Python Live (Mostly) and to interview the five surviving members of Monty Python (John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin).

Gold explains: "Monty Python: The Meaning Of Live is an intimate and entertaining documentary that tells the story of their ground-breaking live performances, and includes rarely seen footage from their earliest stage shows in 1971 and Live At The Hollywood Bowl in 1980.

"Roger has also been given unparalleled access to film behind-the-scenes in the run-up to Monty Python 2014 reunion show. He follows these comic legends in the lead up to their first new stage show in over three decades. Roger's unique relationship with the Pythons has allowed him a rare insight into the nature of their collaboration and friendships. The documentary captures many entertaining and surprising moments, right up until the final curtain of their very last show."

Speaking about the documentary, Graef says: "I'm delighted to be working with the Pythons again. The treat of sharing their reunion and the audience's enthusiasm is caught in our footage, and shines throughout our film. With an unprecedented level of access and backstage material, this documentary captures the most anticipated comeback show in comedy history. Viewers are given a unique insight into the enormous effort of the backstage ballet behind the seamless performances of the five diverse entertainers, who have come together following a 35 year hiatus.

Monty Python Live At The Hollywood Bowl. Image shows from L to R: Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese. Copyright: Hand Made Films."Making comedy is hard work, and the anxiety of doing it live is even harder. As they build up to their last ever performance, there will be laughter, reflection and tears. It's the Pythons as never seen before, and will never be seen again."

The commission was announced by UKTV's CEO Darren Childs at the TV network's industry showcase in London today. Monty Python: The Meaning Of Live is produced by Phil McIntyre Television in association with the group's own production company, Python (Monty) Pictures Ltd.

Hilary Rosen, UKTV's Commissioning Editor, says: "Monty Python is arguably the most influential comedy group this country has ever known and it's a matter of great pride that they have given Gold unparalleled access to the build-up of their hugely anticipated final reunion. Roger Graef is a brilliant director, and the amazing chemistry and rapport he has with the Pythons is clear throughout. In this ultimate Monty Python documentary we will see them as never before."

Gold was the channel that broadcast the final reunion show live on TV, a commissioning move which resulted in the channel's highest ever ratings.

Steve North, General Manager of Gold, adds: "It was a huge step in Gold's evolution to broadcast live the final performance of Monty Python and this insightful documentary also forms part of the channel's bold commissioning strategy. No other documentary has had such incredible access to the Pythons in the run-up to what was a significant national event."

As previously announced, Gold will also screen Monty Python's Best Bits (Mostly). This five part series will include 'the very best footage from their TV series' and insights from some of the biggest names in comedy. Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas, Simon Pegg, Steve Coogan, Eddie Izzard, Jim Carrey, Tracey Ullman, Mike Myers and Chevy Chase are amongst those already confirmed to appear in the series.

Monty Python: The Meaning Of Live and Monty Python's Best Bits (Mostly) are expected to be shown on Gold this winter.

The below video features some backstage footage from Monty Python Live (Mostly):

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