Major pre-Python sketch show discovered

Monday 2nd October 2023, 1:30pm

The Complete And Utter History Of Britain. Copyright: London Weekend Television

ITV has recovered a major, missing comedy series that lead to the creation of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

The Complete And Utter History Of Britain was written by and starred Michael Palin and Terry Jones, with one six-part series airing in January and February 1969.

A spoof documentary presenting the history of the British Isles, the Monty Python troupe was formed in the immediate aftermath of the programme's airing, with Flying Circus airing from 5th October the same year.

Filmed as seven parts, with the first two programmes edited into one ahead of broadcast by London Weekend Television, only the first two broadcast programmes has been known to survive in full, alongside filmed inserts from the rest of the series.

The surviving material, alongside newly-filmed linking material from Palin and Jones, were released on Blu-ray and DVD in 2014, but all six episodes have now been discovered - miscatalogued and residing in ITV's archive all along.

ITV told British Comedy Guide today: "It was found by the ITV Archive team as part of a huge project to fully identify every archive asset ITV holds.

"The series had been sitting in the ITV vaults though mis-catalogued for decades, but through the identification programme we were able to make this remarkable find.

"We flagged it to our colleagues in streaming, had the film cleaned and restored from the 16mm telerecordings and then finally made available to our viewers for the first time since the original broadcasts."

All six half-hour shows are available to watch now via ITVX Premium.

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