John Cleese and Michael Palin from Monty Python
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Cleese and Palin relive the 1979 Life of Brian debate

In 1979, shortly after the release of their film Life of Brian, Monty Python members Michael Palin and John Cleese appeared on BBC Two's Friday Night, Saturday Morning to debate the film with Roman Catholic journalist and satirist Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark, Mervyn Stockwood.

The film had been surrounded in religious controversy, due to its depictions of a fictional Messiah that many claimed had satirised Jesus Christ.

Michael Palin told the Today programme that he prepared for the debate "quite carefully".

"I didn't know what the Church's attitude was going to be - that's what I felt when I turned up there," he continued.

John Cleese explained that having recently watched the discussion again he "was astonished, first of all, at how stupid [the two members of the Church] were, and how boring the debate became".

He added: "I think the sad thing was that there was absolutely no attempt at a proper discussion - no attempt to find any common ground."

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday 30 December 2013.

  • 30 Dec 2013