4 September 2014
UKTV's CEO, Darren Childs, announced today at the award-winning broadcaster's annual UKTV Live event, that its comedy channel Gold has commissioned the ultimate Monty Python documentary; Monty Python: The Meaning of Live, from Phil McIntyre Television in association with Python (Monty) Pictures Ltd and Films of Record.
The 90-minute film, co-directed by BAFTA award-winning Roger Graef OBE (The Secret Policeman’s Ball, The Truth About Adoption) and James Rogan (Blog Wars, Amnesty! When They Are All Free, The Trouble with Pirates), offers unprecedented access to the five surviving members of Monty Python (John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin).
Roger Graef's remarkable relationship with the Monty Python troupe dates back to the 1970s. He filmed rehearsals, backstage and performances of their 1976 Amnesty International benefit show for his fascinating and critically-acclaimed documentary Pleasure At Her Majesty’s.
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, Monty Python Live (mostly) - One Down Five to Go at The O2, London. 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.
The last night of Monty Python Live (Mostly) was broadcast live on Gold. It was the first time in the channel's history that it broadcast a live event and it proved to be a ratings smash-hit. Nearly one million individuals tuned in, making it Gold's highest ever rating show, and saw it trend on Twitter throughout the night.
Roger Graef OBE said,
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.
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.
Hilary Rosen, UKTV’s Commissioning Editor, said,
Monty Python is arguably the most influential comedy group this country has ever known and it’s a matter of great pride that they 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.
Steve North, General Manager of Gold commented,
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.
In addition to this special documentary, a five-part series, Monty Python's Best Bits (mostly) will celebrate Monty Python's most ingenious and imaginative sketches and the effect that they have had on the comedy world. It will include the very best footage from their TV series and insights from some of the biggest names in comedy with Jim Carrey, Tracey Ullman, Mike Myers, Chevy Chase, Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas, Simon Pegg, Steve Coogan, Eddie Izzard, and Mike Myers already confirmed to appear.
Phil McIntyre Television has also worked with Gold this year on new commission Porridge: Inside Out, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the hit British sitcom. It performed 124% above slot average reaching two million individuals.
Monty Python: The Meaning of Live was commissioned by Richard Watsham, UKTV’s Director of Commissioning, and is executive produced by Hilary Rosen for UKTV and by Lucy Ansbro and Lindsay Jex for Phil McIntyre Television. It is produced by Jim Beach and Holly Gilliam for Python (Monty) Pictures Limited and is produced in association with Films of Record.
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Notes to Editors
About Gold (Sky 110, Virgin 126, TalkTalk 408, Top-Up TV 20)
www.goldtvchannel.co.uk Dedicated to celebrating the best of British comedy, Gold is the nation's favourite comedy channel. Much-loved comedy series such as Only Fools and Horses, The Vicar of Dibley and Outnumbered sit alongside successful commissions including Porridge: Inside Out, Yes, Prime Minister, The Comic Strip Presents: Five Go To Rehab (starring Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders) and Bring Me Morecambe and Wise. The perfect tonic to make you laugh whatever the time of day, Gold shows universally funny content that everyone can enjoy.
UKTV is the multi-award winning media company that reaches over 42 million viewers per month.
UKTV's ten imaginative channel brands - Watch, Dave, Gold, Alibi, Eden, Yesterday, Drama, Really, Home and Good Food - include the most watched non-PSB channel, the most watched channel in the Factual genre and the most watched channels in the Lifestyle genre (Pay and Free). The company's most recent financial results showed a record-breaking year-end revenue of £262m, and operating profit at £71m.
UKTV has a truly innovative model, curating brand-defining commissions, high-profile acquisitions and the very best of BBC and Channel 4 content, and embracing technology to deliver inspired channels to audiences through Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media, BT TV, TalkTalk, YouView, plus direct On Demand digital services. The network distributes its highly valued programmes to 200 territories around the world and supplies Sky with more hours of HD content than anyone else.
Now celebrating its 21st year at the forefront of digital television, UKTV - an independent commercial joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc. (SNI) - is proud to be the only British broadcaster to be recognised by Best Companies.