BBC nearly killed off Monty Python, says Terry Jones
Published 04/08/2010 | 10:17
Monty Python was nearly killed off by BBC executives who feared it would never make money, according to Terry Jones.
The sketch show is now regarded as one of the British comedy greats, but bosses at the corporation were less than impressed by the first series when it aired in 1969.
"They used to give us nonsense terms and conditions. We were never sure whether we'd be there for another season. They didn't believe we could make them any money, so they wanted to get rid of us at the very beginning," said Jones, who devised the show along with John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman and Terry Gilliam.
Jones, 68, speaking at a film festival in Croatia, said the show was saved only when a Spanish television executive approached the BBC to buy screening rights.
"They went to great lengths to tell him that it was not actually a circus at all and that he might not really like it but he still insisted on watching it and bought a full season. That saved us."
Documents obtained last year under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that BBC management found Monty Python to be "disgusting", "nihilistic" and "in appalling taste". However, by the end of the first series, the humour had struck a chord with the British public.
The show ran for another five years, spawned several films and a hit musical, Spamalot, which has taken £120m (€145m) in box office receipts on Broadway alone.