Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus
The "lost" German programmes
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Michael Palin
talks about
the making of the 'German' episodes

Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus

"This is a true Python curiosity and one that we have all rather become quite fond. The way it came about was that there was a German producer who liked the Monty Python shows very much indeed but felt they would never really work in Germany as they were. However he felt that if we went out to Germany and made the sketches over there he would guarantee us a couple of really good shows and access to the burgeoning Germany market. ( At the time, to be perfectly honest and a little racist we had not thought Germany was an obvious place for comedy, but we were wrong).

"We went over and produced a script. When we were driving to the location to start shooting, high up in the Alps one Monday morning, we suddenly realised that all the scripts they had were in German so we asked for the English scripts. "What English scripts? I was told you all speak German."

"We said none of us speak German. John can order a meal and I can ask for a beer and say I am sorry I’m English but that’s all. "Oh dear but there are no English scripts, you have to do this in German".

"Therefore the first sketch we filmed is of me as an Australian in a documentary about Albrecht Durer saying, "I know as much about Durer as I do about a kangaroo’s bum" – which was translated into German. I said I can’t remember all that, I don’t know the German for kangaroo’s bum, you’ll have to put it on boards. So, high up in the Alps these idiot boards were constructed with the German technicians holding them up and looking totally baffled as I said my lines as best I could.

"With the Lumberjack song I had to learn it in German. It took a whole week. I had to learn all the words, if you’ll forgive the pun, Parrot fashion. I now cannot forget it but for a week I could not remember it. And now we all know a lot of silly German."