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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 1235 times.
This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Sunday, November 21st 2010.
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Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by ER3017 on Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at 7:37am CT

About 2 years ago, my brother and I was on our way to the park and I saw boxes and boxes of videos, and my brother and I agreed to get almost all of them. Unfortunately, due to my strength, I didn't carry a lot, so I grabbed like 2 boxes and some videos are quite interesting I tell you. I'am still waiting to deliver these to you because if I wait, not only they'll rot but worried that these will be in the dumpster like my mom did but retrieved by me thank god.


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by FuzzyMemories on Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 at 12:48pm CT

davismv - Thanks Mark! Well, we do have some late-breaking developments - once again provided by our researcher extraordinaire, Mr. Chris Tufts (Phantom). He found this interesting article on the development of Teletext in the U.S. as well as it's use on Nite-Owl. It's from New Scientist magazine and dates to July 22nd 1982. After reading this one has to wonder - what happened? Everything seemed so rosy. They had lots of viewers, and were making some advertising money apparently. So why did Nite-Owl quit just about a month later at the end of August 1982? Were they just tired of "giving it away for free"?

In any case, Chris found another interesting article, this time from Broadcasting Magazine dated September 7th 1981. In it, we finally learn that the true start date of Nite-Owl was early Friday, September 4th at 12 Midnight! Therefore, we can say with certainty that the clip you see here is the opening of Nite-Owl's Second Episode! We'll have to adjust the airdates of a few other clips to reflect this new information.

(T.K. - the answer to your question regarding Nite-Owl's music is also in this article - although who knows, perhaps they changed music providers at some point during the run of the show)

One other thing - the article mentions that WFLD was actually including teletext pages over its regular broadcasts since April of 1981. I had never heard this before. This information just leaves me wanting more. Did they transmit the teletext pages over every program that aired on WFLD since April 1981? Secondly, if you have a recording of a WFLD broadcast from that time period and you are able to fashion some kind of decoder, can you see the original teletext pages that aired during the broadcast? According to this article, there were at least 100 decoders floating around the Chicagoland area. Did anyone save one?

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Regarding finding tapes: more and more I believe that the best way to find tapes is by asking neighbors, friends, or acquaintances. Why? Because unfortunately these home recorded tapes are seen by most people as virtually worthless most of the time, and if something is viewed as worthless it has way less of a chance of even making it to a thrift store or garage sale. People would just throw them out (which is sad, I know).

Also, some thrift stores now have policies of not letting "home-recorded" tapes make it to the shelf at all - they will just toss or recycle them if donated. The reason I've heard for this is that either someone complained before about something they found on one of the tapes ("adult" content perhaps), or the thrift store people are just being proactive and trying to avoid any issues like this from happening in the first place. In any case, it does stink. One idea I had that you might want to do is call all of your local thrift stores in your area and ask them if they ever get any home-recorded tapes and what they do with them. (first hurdle is making sure they understand what you're talking about - I usually use the term home-recorded tapes and then make sure it's clear by saying I'm not talking about "store-bought" movie type tapes - but tapes that people recorded themselves at home off of TV) If they say that their policy is to just throw them away or recycle them, tell them to save them for you. Give them your name and number and tell them you will pay for them too if they are what you're looking for. Make sure you're talking to a manager or someone at the store that actually has the power to make this change. Also remind the manager to inform his workers so that they are aware of what to do with the tapes too. And lastly, it couldn't hurt to call the stores again every couple months or so, and talk to the same manager if possible, to double check they are still saving tapes for you and that they haven't lost your contact info. :-)

One last tip - when buying tapes I don't buy them based on what is on the labels. The stuff written on the labels can be a red herring. I go by the age of the tapes. If you've been doing this long enough you can identify a pre-1985 videotape just by the box style as well as certain markings on the videotape itself. The stuff written on the labels can be a nice clue, but again I don't hold much stock in it. There could be a Sony K-60 Betamax tape that could potentially date to 1975 and the person could have recorded over most of it and wrote "Jurassic Park 2" on the label - doesn't matter - because you may still find an untouched 10-20 minutes at the end of the tape of a 1978 airing of Baretta with original commercial breaks for all you know. Anyway, happy hunting and of course please let me know if you find anything good. :-)


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But what's neater-than-neat? Watching the Empire State Building take off like a Saturn V rocket in Commodore 65 form!


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