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Thursday, August 26, 1999 Published at 12:05 GMT 13:05 UK


Python flies again

The circus comes back to town: Monty Python's original line-up

The surviving members of Monty Python's Flying Circus are returning to the BBC for a one-off special to celebrate the classic comedy's 30th anniversary.

John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones are to record new material for a Monty Python theme night on BBC Two this autumn.

The team, who have not been seen together on British television since 1983, have rejected past offers to re-form following the death of founding member Graham Chapman in 1989.

[ image: Python founder Graham Chapman died in 1989]
Python founder Graham Chapman died in 1989
The reunion is one of the highlights of BBC Two's autumn season, unveiled on Thursday by the channel's controller, Jane Root.

A more recent BBC comedy classic - The Fast Show - will also get its own theme night.

Performers Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson will talk about their work on the surreal show, and screen sketches they had previously censored from the series.

Other new comedy projects include a show from Dennis Pennis creator Paul Kaye, Perfect World, and a sitcom from Father Ted creators Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews, Hippies. BBC Radio 4 hit People Like Us will also transfer to TV.

Men Behaving Badly star Martin Clunes plays an anarchic TV presenter in comedy drama Sex 'n' Death, a satire on the future of broadcasting.

[ image: Hippies is one of BBC Two's new comedies]
Hippies is one of BBC Two's new comedies
Tony Garnett's uncompromising drama The Cops returns for a second series, while Eureka Street, starring Dervla Kirwan, Vincent Regan and Mark Benton, is billed as "an extraordinary portrait of contemporary Belfast".

Arts highlights include live coverage of the re-opening of the Royal Opera House, along with a millennial concert conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, including a piece specially commissioned by BBC Two from composer Mark-Anthony Turnage.

Meanwhile, soul legend Isaac Hayes joins Marianne Faithfull, Tim Roth and Tracey Emin in being profiled by Close-Up.

Root said she aimed to "get under the skin of the UK" with programmes such as Adult Lives, a "serious" study of sex and sexuality, and The Talking Cure, which will examine the effectiveness of therapy.

[ image: Jane Root:
Jane Root: "First fruits of having been left alone in the lab"
Factual highlights include Sir Jeremy Isaacs' Millennium, and The Spying Game, an investigation of the Cold War. Lost On Everest tells the story of George Mallory, reputed to be the first man to scale Everest, and the recent search for his camera.

Root, who joined BBC Two in January, said: "This is my first major season as controller. Naturally it is the work of many people, but for me it's the first fruits of having been left alone in the lab - free to experiment and innovate.

"The results mean that, in addition to original comedy and drama, we have created a number of signature programmes and series that take the temperature of Britain today.

"As controller I have set myself a mission to make programmes that show how the world really is, to offer a new flavour."

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