Michael Palin’s Tour of the Best Loved Monty Python Sketch Locations

In 1999, travel presenter and founding member of Monty Python, Michael Palin, led viewers on a tour of Pythonland, a collection of unremarkable London locations where some of the comedy troupe’s most famous sketches were filmed.

Unlike fellow Python Terry Jones, the pleasant woman who responds to Palin’s knock at 94 Thorpebank Road is not expecting a new gas cooker, though judging from the way she is dressed, she is awaiting a television crew. Having spent several decades listening to boys (and then men) incessantly reciting their fave Python bits, it’s a trifle hard for me to believe that anyone could claim zero knowledge of the show’s existence. Maybe things are different here in the States…

Fortunately for the television audience, old Joe, next door at no. 92, does remember the show’s takeover of the neighborhood, including John Cleese’s silly walk out of no. 107, back when it was a shop.

The star betrays his age at the West London home that was the setting of the Seduced Milkman skit. Palin is less shocked that the scantily clad Donna Reading has been replaced by a disinterested young bloke in an apron than that the small size of the room served as a holding pen for the punchline’s five other wayward milkmen. Me too. I can’t imagine a 21st-century crew agreeing to lug their equipment up a flight of stairs, let alone shoot in a room that’s no bigger than it appears to be on film.

Palin also swings by Teddington Lock to demonstrate his fabled Fish Slapping Dance with a uniformed attendant and no fish. At the end of every call, Palin presents the current occupant with a facsimile English Heritage plaque. (More than ten years later, Palin toasted the installation of a fake blue plaque honoring his late colleague Graham Chapman at the latter’s favorite pub.)

If you’re a Python pilgrim looking to make a day of it, here are a few more spots that will round things up to an even dozen. The no-longer-in-print Japanese guidebook that Palin relies on in the videos is something of a grail, but only to those who speak Japanese.

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Ayun Halliday is a Brooklyn-based author, performer, director and the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her@AyunHalliday


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  • Rainer

    Great!

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