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Monty Python's Flying Circus

3.12 A Book at Bedtime


  • US DVD
  • German DVD
Release: May 12, 2011 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Tony Montana - external link: IMDB - more from this series
Compared are the shortened US Version, represented by the US Box from A&E Home Entertainment and the uncut* Version, represented by the German DVD Box (FSK 16).

The Germans had to wait for a very long time until all 45 episodes of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" were released in a DVD box set. It finally happened at 20.03.2007. Another option would have been an import of the US Box by A&E Home Entertainment which had already been available for more than 5 years at that time. It contains 14 discs and each is full of funny and kindly created bonus material (escpecially the menus with Gilliam's animations are awesome). The German Box on the other hand contains only 7 discs with all episodes, no bonus material.

Nevertheless the German release isn't that bad. It's not too expensive and a reasonable investment - escpecially since it became a fact that some episodes of the US Box are cut. But that's a general problem of "Flying Circus" because modification were being made and footage was being removed from some episodes after the first run. This concern not only dialogs but also entire sketches. Unfortunately the German DVD Box isn't fully uncut either but some episodes are longer than their US equivalent.

This comparison is about Episode 38 (Season 3, Episode 12): A Book At Bedtime

* I called the German Version uncut but it's actually not: according to several sources, the episodes started with the "Party political choreographer" sketch when it was aired for the very first time. Since then, this sketch has never been aired and is considered lost.
- US Version: 24:54 min

- German DVD: 26:45 min

- 1 cut
- Length: 106 sec (=1:46 min)

Note: The additional difference of sec consists of a longer black screen at the beginning and end of the German Version.

German DVD Box from Sony:


As far as I know, the episodes that are compared are here on out site (Episode 31 and Episode 38) are the episodes with the most differences and the US Versions are cut for sure. Due to the insignificance of the modifications or the fact that both versions are cut, please find the differences just listed here.

The US DVDs and the German DVDs both lack the following:

Episode 19 (Season 2, Episode 6): School Prices
22:25 - In the "Prince and the black spot" animation, the Prince's cause of death has been softened: in the Original Version he dies of cancer but the audio track of the US and German DVDs contain an added "gangrene" here. The entire story gets narrated by a woman but it's a deep male voice that says "gangrene" (at least that's as grotesque as one could expect from the Pythons). And now it's getting absurd: the uncensored version of the sketch has been used for the motion picture "And Now For Something Completely Different" (1971), for which the best of the sketches from "Flying Circus" were reshot / reanimated by Gilliam. Even today one can hear the word "cancer" here!

Episode 24 (Season 2, Episode 11): How not to be seen
01:57 - A short scene of the "Conquistador Coffee sketch" about the taboo subject leprosy and cancer is missing.
22:00 - The most famous cut in this episode is the missing "Satan Animation" which contains Jesus on the cross and Satan talking with a Jewish accent.
Similar to Episode 19, these cuts have been made to all available DVD versions. It seems as if the footage was only in the first run before it had been censored by the BBC. Fortunately an employee of an US channel accidentally discovered an uncensored 16mm copy in the archives and made a comparison with the uncensored original version. The calculation of the length of both cuts is based on the explanations in that comparison.
detailed comparison including screens

Only missing in the US Version:

Episode 33 (Season 3, Episode 7): Salad Days
01:09 - The US Version lacks 3 more seconds of trivial footage - presumably a problem with the original material.
Right at the beginning of the "Biggles dictates a letter"sketch, there's a jumpcut after the secretary's first comment in which she calls Biggles "Senor". Biggles' words "I'm not a Spanish person! You must call me Mr. Bigg..." are missing here. It looks pretty crappy in the US Version, escpecially since the last letters of his name are still audible, but I figure it's just a problem with the original material because Biggles is going to get called "Senor" several times and he emphasizes he wasn't Spanish all the time. So it's really unlikely that we're talking about censorship or an intentional modification here.

Source of the information about the cuts of the US DVDs (at the bottom, "CUTS")
The US Version only contains the first BBC program announcement ("Next week on 'Book At Bedtime': Jeremy Toogood will be reading 'Black But...Butty...Bottom' ..."). Then a cpoyright sign (12 sec) and that's it. The end.
On the German DVD, a further program announcement foolows after a black screen. The narrator (Eric Idle) explains te program for the following weeks, followed by some exemplarily scenes - comment from the off included.

Narrator: "Tomorrow night comedy returns to BBC TV with new half hour situation comedies for you to spot the winners. Ronnie Thompson stars in 'Dad's doctor'"

Now we see Terry Jones as doc. The mentioned title is being displayed.
Narrator: "The daffy exploits of the RAMC training school. He's in charge of a group of mad medicos and when they run wild, it's titty jokes galore."
The camera tracks backwards during the last words. That reveals that Terry isn't wearing pants. A bunch of nut jobs is running around in the background.
Narrator: "Newcomer Veronica Papp plays the girl with the large breasts."
A nude woman runs across the stage.

A shot of Terry Gilliam in dessous follows. He's standing in the kitchen.
Narrator: "Week two sees the return of the wacky exploits of the oddest couple you've ever seen."
Terry Jones enters, this time dressed up as judge. He kisses Gilliam's shoulder.
Narrator: "Yes, 'Dad's Pooves'."
Jones presents the flowers but he tosses them away to give Gilliam the vase.
Narrator: "The kooky, oddball, laugh-a-minute fun-a-plenty world of unnatural sexual practices."
Now he knees on the table and raises his robe while Gilliam is getting a chain of sausages (?) in the background. He grabs the chain of sausages hits Jones' butt with it.

Narrator: "Week three brings a change of pace to the new comedy schedules. With Reg Cuttleworth, Trevor Quantas, and Cindy Rommel as Bob in: On the dad's liver batchelors at large."
During the first two names, a modified image of two divers (?) at an appartment is visible and an sleeping old man during "Bob". Freeze frame of all the Pythons during the title, accompanied by a narrator:
"Keeping the buses running from typical bedsit land in pre-war Liverpool"

Now a freeze frame of Michael Palin in his "loony" dress, already worn earlier in this episode. The BBC program planning guys are being mentioned again (these guys werew giving the "Flying Circus" a hard time).
Narrator: "That's followed by 'The Ratings Game'. The looney life of a BBC programme planner with the accent on repeats. Edie Phillips-Bong plays Kevin Vole, the programme planner with a problem, and his comic attempts to pass the time."

Narrator: "Week six sees the return of 'Up The Palace'" Zu den Worten 'Up The Palace' sieht man wie Prinz Charles die Krone aufgesetzt bekommt.
Narrator: "The zany exploits of a wacky queen. And that's followed by 'Limestone, Dear Limestone'"

Now a stone wall. The narrator keeps talking: "The wacky days of the late Pleistocene era when much of Britain's rock strata was being formed."
The music becomes silent.
"All this and less on `Comedy Ahoy´. But now, BBC Television is closing down for the night. Don't forget to switch off your sets. Good night."
Finally a blue stripe that gets smaller and smaller (that's supposed to be an old TV when it gets switched off).

106 sec in total