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Monday, 22 July, 2002, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Lost Python sketches cancelled
Monty Python cast
Monty Python was a flop when it first debuted in 1969
The "world première" of three Monty Python sketches has been pulled from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival after it emerged the material may already have been performed.

Sketch Club director Andrew Barclay said he recently learned that another comedy group in Los Angeles may have enacted the Graham Chapman scripts first.


Knowing the sketches have already been seen would take away a bit of the magic

Andrew Barclay, Sketch Club director
"We don't want to say it's a world première if it isn't," Mr Barclay said. "So we decided to err on the side of caution.

"Obviously we're very disappointed. We're big Graham Chapman fans."

The sketches were written by late Python star Chapman and discovered in Los Angeles by his literary executor.

Each one lasts four minutes. The cast of characters includes an overworked Messiah and a gay budgie.

Mr Barclay described the sketches as "very funny", dismissing claims they were cancelled over fears the scripts could not live up to the public's inflated expectations.

Graham Chapman
Chapman's scripts were found after his death
"There's no question of the quality of the material," he said. "But knowing the sketches have already been seen would take away a bit of the magic."

Graham Chapman died of cancer in 1989, aged 49.

The sketches are not the first of his works to be performed posthumously.

In 2000, a play he wrote received its world première at a small Atlanta theatre.

The farce Oh Happy Day had been written by Chapman and comedy writer Barry Cryer in the mid-1970s, and was only rediscovered in the 1990s.

Terry Gilliam animation
Terry Gilliam created the famed cartoon interludes for the series
The world-famous Monty Python's Flying Circus debuted on BBC television in 1969, starring John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and, of course, Chapman.

Their first series was so poorly received that it was replaced in the Midlands by a farming programme, but in time their surrealist, anarchic and imaginative approach became a lasting influence on British comedy.

The surviving members of the group have gone to have successful TV and film careers, including Cleese writing and starring in TV hit series Fawlty Towers, and Gilliam directing films including Brazil and Twelve Monkeys.

See also:

17 Jul 02 | Entertainment
21 Aug 01 | Entertainment
29 Sep 00 | Entertainment
22 Sep 00 | Entertainment
01 Oct 99 | Monty Python
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