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WTTW Channel 11 - Monty Python's Flying Circus - "Last One For Awhile" (Ending, 1980)

Here's something historical and interesting - the ending of the final Monty Python's Flying Circus broadcast on WTTW Channel 11 for over 2 and a half years. Includes:

Ending of Monty Python's Flying Circus with "Distributed by Time Life Television" graphic

Monty Python "Going Away" speech

Thomson Vacation sponsorship

WTTW Station ID slide - "Snowblower"

All voiceovers by Marty Robinson.

Some history of Monty Python on WTTW: It aired for the very first time on Sunday, October 20th 1974 (the day before I was born!) at 10:30pm.

The Chicago Tribune TV Week described the premiere of the show as such: "New to American audiences is this satirical, adult comedy series. The British production features a style reminiscent of the late Ernie Kovacs, ranging from whimsey and satire to humorous nonsense."

By 1980 the members of Monty Python were able to acquire the rights to the program from the BBC, and pulled the show from distribution because it was "overexposed".

Chicago Tribune TV-Radio critic Ron Alridge noted in his column at the time, "The station's rights to broadcast the British comedy expire, and the distributor isn't renewing rights, for any station, for next year. The "Python" shows will be re-edited and put back on the air in 1982."

However, after this night's airing at the end of 1980, Monty Python's Flying Circus not return to WTTW's airwaves until Sunday, July 10th 1983 at 10pm.

Time-Life subsequently lost the rights to the programs. In 1983, Devillier Donegan Enterprises acquired distribution rights to the show. (Trivia Note: Brian Donegan had been a Producer/Programmer at WTTW in the 1970s)

No word on what exactly the edits were that Ron Alridge refers to, or why they would be deemed necessary. If the Pythons themselves acquired the rights to the show, why would they want to chop up their own work?

My thanks to Chris Tufts (Phantom) for his skilled research assistance with this history.

This aired on local Chicago TV on Sunday, December 28th 1980.

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This clip aired on Sunday, December 28th 1980, and is included in the following categories:

Viewer Comments

This looks like the ending of the "Golden Age of Ballooning" episode, the first from the fourth, John Cleese-less series that aired in Britain in 1974.

In addition, Ron Devillier worked at KERA in Dallas, the first station to put "Python" on the air in 1974 (in fact, he was the one who first brought the show to America). So both he and Donegan were public TV veterans.

It was also a few years from this that Time-Life would lose the rights to the rest of the entire BBC library of programmes (note the British spelling here), which then went to an entity called Lionheart Television.

Comment posted by W.B. on Monday, November 22nd 2010 at 5:19am.

It's funny that WTTW ended the run of "Monty Python" with the "Golden Age of Ballooning" episode. This was the program that ABC excised the words "naughty bits" from during a late night showing that led to a lawsuit, and the MP guys getting control of the program rights.
Comment posted by Phantom on Monday, November 22nd 2010 at 8:20pm.

Quite ironic.

Is it likely that any of the episodes I have from WTTW contain "lost" footage? It would have to be a Time-Life era airing though, right?

Comment posted by FuzzyMemories on Monday, November 22nd 2010 at 8:23pm.

Found an interesting site that may have answered my own question, although I'm still not sure exactly which episodes I should be looking for. I'll e-mail the guy.
Comment posted by FuzzyMemories on Monday, November 22nd 2010 at 8:58pm.

That site is quite interesting. I disagree with the site on one point. I remember on some of the Devillier Donegan Enterprises versions, the sound of the Time-Life logo can be heard at the end of the show, which contradicts the assertion that the TL tapes were erased.
Comment posted by Phantom on Monday, November 22nd 2010 at 9:57pm.

It would seem, based on this observation, that when the tapes were re-edited for re-release, that Devillier-Donegan (which, incidentally, was founded the year WTTW's original rights lapsed, 1980) simply planted their logo in place of Time-Life's . . . however, one wonders if they weren't too successful in totally overriding the "old" sound.

It was around 1982 that Time-Life lost the rights to distribution of all remaining BBC product in North America, and another entity called Lionheart Television picked up the slack. One wonders how the ending of a "Python" episode would have looked like with the Lionheart logo and music.

Comment posted by W.B. on Tuesday, November 23rd 2010 at 12:03am.

And there was much rejoicing in my household, as I no longer had a reason to stay up late on Sunday nights. That is, until I became interested in the exploits of a certain curly haired, long scarfed guy in a flying blue box.
Comment posted by 4thtroika on Thursday, December 27th 2012 at 10:59pm.

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This clip has been viewed 1750 times.
This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Sunday, November 21st 2010.
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P.S. Modified clip description to correct the spelling of the esteemed editorial director.


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Aha, Henry Cooke. How long was he with WMAQ? Ditto for Lorry Young.

As for Lee Hanna - he was brought in by parent network NBC to 'MAQ in 1976 to try to lift the station from last place, after propelling NYC sister station WNBC Channel 4 to the top with its 2-hour "NewsCenter4" newscast. Alas, for a variety of reasons, Mr. Hanna's tenure at WMAQ didn't work out and he was gone by 1978. Ron Powers, in the 1980 edition of his book "The Newscasters: The News Business As Show Business," had a section about Mr. Hanna's ill-fated WMAQ foray in his chapter of the ups and downs of WNBC's "starship newscast."


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Finally able to ID the other WMAQ-TV voiceover person featured in this clip - Henry Cooke. Thanks to Deb Segal.


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