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Monty Python's Flying Circus in Exeter

Page updated on 23rd June 2013

Back to historic events in Exeter

On Sunday 8 September, 1974, the Monty Python's Flying Circus production team came down to Exeter to start film parts of series four, their last. Some of the actors, including John Cleese, stayed at the White Hart Hotel in South Street .

They filmed in the following known locations:

Eastgate House outside, walking past, sketch not known.
High Street by Lloyds Bank - Graham Chapman in Alex Diamond sketch
Cowick Street - the Up Your Pavement sketch.
Clock Tower Cafe - the Up Your Pavement sketch.
Thornton Hill - the top right hand house. Eric Idle in Michael Ellis sketch
   about delivering hundreds of TV sets.
Higher Kings Avenue - Mr Neutron sketch in which women put out scrap
   missiles and bombs for a horse drawn rag and bone cart to take away.
   Boskenna or 27, Higher Kings Avenue was also the location for the
   opening of the new post box sketch in Ryslip. The post box sketch also
   included a scene filmed in the Clock Tower Cafe, now an Indian restaurant.
Southernhay West - sketch not known.
Bicton Park - the Women's Royal College at Bagshot.

The filming at Boskenna, in Higher Kings Avenue is remembered by Penny Beeby who lived in the house in 1974.

"As a family we were in the house at the time of filming (the Boskenna sign has fallen down, but it is still currently called Boskenna – I will buy her a new sign for Christmas!).

As a young thing of 17 doing “A” levels, it was very exciting to hear that the Monty Python team would be filming a series of Monty Python locally and wanted to use our road for some scenes – this meant the road was closed for some days – setting up, filming, taking the set down etc. When the set/ crew arrived I cheekily (and at the time quite bravely for me!) went up to some of the crew and asked the director if our house could be used in a scene (it was not in the original script) and thus the scene with Terry Jones took place. The crew were very friendly and were happy to change their scrip to include our house and drive (they did not come inside). They also asked my mother if she would like to be in a background scene where there was a platform erected by the crew in the middle of the road and where a number of the public were needed for background shots. Sadly my mum said no – because she did not want to look silly in front of millions of people! At the time I was quite a celebrity amongst my friends as everyone recognised the house when the series went out. The series is still put out occasionally and I always like to see the scenes set locally in Devon and to see “My” house on the Monty Python show – which at the time had a big cult following and was popular with a large audience."

The Monty Python scripts often referred to places around Britain - Exeter appears in the following two extracts:

Derby Council vs. All Blacks Rugby Match /Long John Silver Impersonators vs. Bournemouth Gynaecologists sketch Linkman: (MICHAEL) "Cliff, this must have been a very disappointing result for the All Blacks."

Cliff: (Welsh accent) "Well, they've had very bad luck on the tour so far. They missed four very easy kicks against the Exeter Amateur Operatic Society, which must have cost them the match and then of course there was that crippling defeat at the hands of the Derry and Toms Soft Toy Department, so I don't think they can be really fancying their chances against the London Pooves on Saturday."

The Black Eagle sketch Journalist (voice over) "Is this strictly relevant? Quizzed learned lovely, Justice Maltravers. Seventy-eight-year-old Justice hails from Esther, and he's been making a big name for himself at the recent Assizes at Exeter." (cut back to defence counsel, who has turned into a large photo blow-up of himself headed 'Defence Counsel Sizzler')

Sources - the stills and the sketch and location information kindly supplied by Mike Grant. Extracts from the scripts are from orangecow.org/pythonet/sketches/index.htm

Thornton Hill The TV sets sketch at Thornton Hill. Higher Kings AvenueThe new postbox at Ryslip sketch.

Also see the videos:
Monty Python in Cowick Street 1974
YouTube Python sketch with several shots taken in Exeter including Cowick Street, Southernhay and a field next to the airport
Monty Python postbox sketch 1974
YouTube Python sketch shot in Higher Kings Avenue

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