The New Incomplete Complete And Utter History Of Britain (DVD review).

Most people would normally associate ‘Monty Python’ with the BBC but they did have other existences including this effort, ‘The New Incomplete Complete And Utter History Of Britain’, from 1969 when the guys would have been in their 20s. We’ve only got two of the Monty Python gang and they are working for LWT (London Weekend Television) which has long disappeared. I don’t think they could appreciate the ‘Monty Python’ type of humour but they have gone and Palin and Jones are still here so who has had the last laugh?


I can’t believe it’s getting on for fifty years since they came about. Born out of a group of students, the ‘Monty Python’ team was a collective of extremely talented individuals and, though they are now getting on in years, audiences of all ages still appreciate them greatly. Sadly, of course, Graham Chapman is no longer with us but the rest still gather laughs wherever they go. An intelligent bunch of people, they seem to have the knack of humour which reflects the British way of life that has not been surpassed to this day.

They also bring back fond memories, floods of nostalgia, especially for people of my age who were young students at the time ‘Monty Python’ came on the TV. I can remember sitting in a pub making a pint stretch out for an eternity, because I had enough money for only one pint and watching ‘Monty Python’ on the colour TV, which was a novelty compared to the black and white set at home. So here we are in a sort of genesis ‘Monty Python’, with two of its stars, in glorious black and white. It’s a trip back in time and, for me, it’s something completely different because I haven’t seen it before. Believe it or not, this was shown only in the London area so it’s a novel experience even if it is 45 years old!

I think about six episodes of the series were made but only two episodes are extant. What we have here is a collective of what’s left, of what was saved from the scrapheap. Basically, it’s everything together in various formats which includes up-to-date links from Jones and Palin. The material has been processed to make it more viewable but, for the purists, the untouched versions and also given. Actually, it becomes a bit confusing but that’s nothing unusual with ‘Monty Python’ people. There is also an interview with the producer Humphrey Barclay. The end result was that, for about £10, you get quite a lot of material with plenty more chucked in. It has been released for posterity and also to make them a couple of quid. Maybe Palin and Jones didn’t get a good return on their annuities and are looking for a little extra for old age. Good luck to them, they deserve it.

So what’s it all about? Screened just before ‘Monty Python’ appeared on BBC, it’s something that resembles ‘Monty Python’ but just a little bit different. It is their own wacky version of history starting from the very beginning, the Stone Age, moving on through the Romans, the Battle of Hastings and various figures of royalty. What they’ve done is take bits and pieces from the series and link them all with little introductions from Palin and Jones, up-to-date introductions from the old guys themselves but presented in black and white to make them seem authentic. It’s amazing what they do with make up these days!

We start off in the Stone Age with an unscrupulous estate agent trying to flog Stonehenge to a bemused couple. A little bit draughty and falling down in places but it was a desired residence! We go through the Roman invasion and on to 1065. Now, what happened in 1065? Not a lot it appears and a disgruntled souvenir seller with an abundance of 1065 mugs was going to give it up as a bad job. Little did he know that in 1066, according to the script, an influx of immigrants was coming to Hastings. The battle was described as a football match with William the Conqueror giving an interview from the team bath.

Robin Hood? You can imagine what was said about him and his band of merry men. The comic acting is quite superb as you would expect. The duo later went on to create ‘Ripping Yarns’ which is currently being shown on BBC in the UK. ‘The Incomplete Complete History’ is a riot from start to finish with side-splitting humour, albeit dated in some places, but superbly done. Okay, it’s black and white and many miserable beggars out there will give it a thumbs down but you can’t satisfy everybody all of the time.

I’m quite pleased these disks came along because it brings a little humour into our lives. It’s also important if you are a ‘Monty Python’ fan wishing to add to your collection with this forgotten piece of history. I’d certainly recommend it to anyone. It’s something completely different!

Rod MacDonald

April 2014

(Region 2 DVD: pub: Network. 3 DVDs 150 minutes black and white Price: £10.25 (UK). ASIN: B009P14RXG)

cast: Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Colin Gordon and Roddy Maude-Roxby

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