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When did they adopt 'Monty Python' as name of troupe?

One question I have that the documentary never exactly answered:

"Monty Python" was NOT originally meant to be the name of a comedy troupe.
It was merely part of the name of the tv show - "Monty Python" was a made-up name to denote a sleazy entertainment promoter (a la Col. Tom Parker, I suppose) who was putting on a whacky show called a Flying Circus.

Yet within a year or two, the six writers/actors involved with the show were performing live, and putting out comedy albums, as an act with the name "Monty Python."

So, does anyone know the WHEN/HOW/WHY/WHO of this decision?


They were playing around with possible titles for their new BBC show when Michael Palin suggested "Gwen Dibley's Flying Circus," and it gradually evolved into "Monty Python's Flying Circus." And, as they say, the rest is history! As time went by, the comedy troupe eventually became known as the Pythons.


I don't think it was a thought-out decision "right, we're Monty Python". You're doing a show called "Monty Python's Flying Circus" so calling the troupe Monty Python, The Pythons, etc. is pretty much a no-brainer. I doubt anyone could pinpoint an exact date as the first time the name of the show was applied to the writers/cast... it's just a natural progression.


Sir, I want to applaud you for two reasons:

1) You're the one and only person in the thread who actually answered the freaking question.

2) Your answer is the same one I would give, based on precisely the same reasoning.



At Michael Palin's published diary, it states they started shooting in mid 1969 (first sketches were Bicycle Repair Man and Wacky Queen) and the title was something like "bucket, a spoon..." and some other words. About 2 months later, and 2 months before the premiere, his diary already state the name Flying Circus, which was decided by the BBC. In a matter of days, they decided upon some names to be put bfore Flying Circus, and decided on Gwen Dibley, I think, because it was a name of a real person, and Palin thought it would be amusing if that person one day turned on the TV and realized she had her own show. They scrapped that and decided on a cheezy name, and came cross Monty Python. It was pretty much decided about 6 weeks before the first show aired.

"You keep him in here, and make sure HE dosen't leave!"


Without knowing the facts I had supposed the title came from a mocking of authority, history, and "the wars" which really dominated British culture. Flying Circus was of course the nickname of the German WWI squadron commanded by Captain Manfred von Richthofen and Monty the nickname the British WWII Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. Python added more flamboyance in the manner of old time travelling showmen.


This does not answer your question, but it is an interesting sidenote. I believe it was John Cleese that said they considered "Owl Stretching Time".

Monty Python's Flying Circus is better, I think.


From what I've read, and heard them explain in interviews, it's a little bit of "all of the above" posts.

What I've never heard explained is how the American "Liberty Bell March" became their theme.


I saw in one of the innumerable Python documentaries---don't remember which one---Terry Gilliam talk about the Sousa tune. He basically said that the theme was chosen because the first bell strike and the subsequent melody gave the impression of getting 'straight down to business', which was quite ironic considering how the show purposely meandered and flip-flopped between varied subjects. Gilliam also mentioned that it was chosen because it was in the public domain and free from royalties, and they had been given no budget for theme music copyrights.

I've read that the march became so associated with Python that in the seventies the guards had to stop using the tune during the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace as it was drawing snickers from the tourists.


Thanks for that, Mmmavis. I'd forgotten that I'd posed the question. Sorry. That's interesting about the Buckingham Palace Guard ... both that they had to change it as their music, [i]and[//i] that they used an American march with a liberty icon in the title, in the first place.


Some of these answers give parts of the story, but not all of it.

Shortly after the lads signed with the BBC, its head of comedy, Michael Mills, began to refer to them as "the circus" in memos and whatnot, as no one quite seemed to know what they were doing; they'd signed to do a comedy series but even the lads themselves didn't really know what direction it would take. So, "Circus" was a given for the title.

The origin of "Flying" is less certain. Mills had occasionally referred to them as "Baron von Took's Flying Circus" for writer/comedian and BBC comedy advisor Barry Took, who was sort of the "scout" who got the BBC to sign them. But, other sources say the Pythons themselves added "Flying" because they liked the World War I sound of it (perhaps taking "Baron von Took" to its natural end, Baron von Richthofen) and not incidentally so viewers wouldn't initially think the show was an actual circus. Either way, "Flying Circus" was established.

Others here have covered the "Gwen Dibley" story, so I'll skip that. They wanted the name of the "operator" of the Flying Circus to suggest a show-business agent with the ethics of an albatross salesman. Cleese came up with "Python" because it sounded slithery and sinister and Idle thought of "Monty" for WWII Field Marshal Bernard "Monty" Montgomery, the British Army's version of U.S. Gen. George S. Patton.

Other titles suggested were "A Horse, a Bucket and a Spoon," "Bun, Wackett, Buzzard, Stubble and Boot," "Whither Canada?," "Owl-Stretching Time," "The Toad Elevating Moment" and "Ethel the Frog." The latter four were used in the series as episode or sketch titles.

As for the reason the group itself was merely "Monty Python," "Monty Python's Flying Circus" was the title of the TV series. The group itself never had an official name; "Monty Python" just naturally evolved. (In the fourth and final series, though, after the departure of John Cleese, the show was officially called "Monty Python.")

I hope this muddles things up for you. Bye for now. Keep your teeth clean. :)