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 documentaryPleasure 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.
“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.”