Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

BBC Four commissions new comedy drama, Holy Flying Circus

BBC Four has announced that it has commissioned a new one-off, 90-minute comedy drama, Holy Flying Circus, for transmission this Autumn.

It is the first production to come out of Hillbilly Television Ltd, a joint venture with talkbackTHAMES.

Written by Tony Roche (In The Loop, The Thick Of It) Holy Flying Circus is a fantastical re-imagining of the controversy surrounding the release of Monty Python's 1979 film Life Of Brian. Witty and humorous in tone, the comedy drama incorporates surreal cutaways including puppetry and animation in telling its narrative.

Richard Klein, Controller BBC Four, says: "This is a smart and witty take on both the nature of censorship and the world of Monty Python. Tony Roche's script is both bold and entertaining, a wonderfully warm homage to one of the most original of British comedy teams."

An ensemble cast piece, the drama features: Darren Boyd (Case Sensitive for ITV1, Green Wing) as John Cleese, Charles Edwards (currently to be seen in Much Ado About Nothing at The Globe) as Michael Palin, Steve Punt (Punt & Dennis, Would I Lie To You?) as Eric Idle, Rufus Jones (The Dutch Elm Conservatoire, Katy Brand Big Ass Show) as Terry Jones, Tom Fisher (Kingdom) as Graham Chapman and Phil Nichol (winner of the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Award - formerly Perrier - 2006) as Terry Gilliam.

Directed by Owen Harris (Misfits, Secret Diary Of A Call Girl), filming begins this month for four weeks, and will feature locations in and around London. Co-produced by Polly Leys and Kate Norrish for Hillbilly Television Ltd, the executive producer is Matthew Read for the BBC. Holy Flying Circus was commissioned by Richard Klein, Controller, BBC Four and Ben Stephenson, Controller BBC Drama Commissioning.

Hillbilly Television and Holy Flying Circus co-producer, Kate Norrish comments: "Holy Flying Circus takes a moment from our recent past to shed light on the present. When Palin and Cleese were called to defend Life Of Brian, they were fighting not just for the future of their film but for their artistic credibility. It was a moment when freedom of speech was pitted against religious belief and is a debate that is just as precariously balanced today."

Jamie Laurenson, BBC Commissioning Editor, adds: "BBC drama is constantly looking for bold and challenging stories to tell, following recent dramas on BBC Four including Women In Love and Lennon Naked. Holy Flying Circus by Tony Roche is a funny and truly original look at how Monty Python struggled with censorship in the release of Life Of Brian."

Holy Flying Circus is a talkbackTHAMES/Hillbilly Television co-production for BBC Four.

MO

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