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At Last The 1948 Show & Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD in September

2 September 2019

At Last The 1948 Show debuted in 1967: the silly, cerebral team effort of future Pythons John Cleese and Graham Chapman, Goodie-to-be Tim Brooke-Taylor and the marvellously fizzogged Marty Feldman. With laconic links by The Lovely Aimi MacDonald and set-pieces including the debut of the landmark ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ sketch, this pioneering comedy series is now ready to be enjoyed by a new generation of fans (or by old ones all over again). The research, reconstruction and restoration involved in creating this 3-DVD set and its companion, Do Not Adjust Your Set, both released on 16 September 2019, is the biggest TV project ever undertaken by the BFI National Archive.

Initially beginning work six years ago, a team of the BFI’s specialist TV curators gathered every episode known to exist. Further down the line, the Video Publishing and Technical Delivery teams work tirelessly to reconstruct missing episodes, using audio recordings and shooting scripts, to create the most complete collection ever assembled of this series.

This Collector’s Edition includes all 10 surviving shows, plus two near-complete reconstructions and a partially complete episode with full-length audio: all presented with an array of archive gems and newly filmed extras. The accompanying booklet includes an essay by curator Steve Bryant detailing the research and technical work that was carried out.

At Last The 1948 Show will be launched during a month-long season at BFI Southbank, It’s… Monty Python at 50, running 1 September – 1 October 2019, celebrating Monty Python – their roots, influences and subsequent work both as a group, and as individuals. The season forms part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the beloved comedy group, whose seminal series Monty Python’s Flying Circus first aired on 5 October 1969. It will include all the Monty Python feature films; oddities and unseen curios from the depths of the BFI National Archive and from Michael Palin’s personal collection of super 8mm films; back-to-back screenings of the entire series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus in a unique big-screen outing; and screenings of post-Python TV (Fawlty Towers, Out of the Trees, Ripping Yarns) and films (Jabberwocky, A Fish Called Wanda, Time Bandits, Wind in the Willows and more). There will be a free exhibition of Python-related material from the BFI National Archive and The Monty Python Archive, and a Python takeover in the BFI Shop.

On Sunday 8 September at 15:00 in NFT1, there will be a special screening of At Last The 1948 Show (two recovered editions from the series plus an exclusive preview of some of the extra material from this DVD release) followed by a Q&A with Tim Brooke-Taylor.

At Last the 1948 Show DVD cover art

At Last The 1948 Show Collector's Edition 3-DVD special features:

  • Something About the Year 1948 (2019, 31 mins): John Cleese on working with Humphrey Barclay, David Frost and Graham Chapman, At Last The 1948 Show and the path to Python
  • We Just Wanted to Be Silly (2019, 38 mins): Tim Brooke-Taylor recalls his comedy influences and the making of At Last The 1948 Show
  • John Cleese in Conversation (2006, 36 mins): John Cleese joins comedy historian Dick Fiddy at BFI Southbank to reflect on At Last The 1948 Show
  • Reconstructing At Last The 1948 Show (2000, 44 mins, audio): the BFI’s Steve Bryant in discussion with Aimi MacDonald, Tim Brooke-Taylor and audiophile Ray Frensham
  • John Cleese Introduces At Last The 1948 Show (2003, 2 mins): an introduction recorded for the BFI’s Missing Believed Wiped event
  • At Last It’s Dee Time (1967, 12 mins audio): the At Last The 1948 Show team’s unruly guest appearance on the BBC chat show
  • Now and Then: Marty Feldman (1968, 25 mins): Feldman discusses the nature of comedy in this unedited interview, shot for a never-broadcast Bernard Braden documentary series
  • The Humphrey Barclay Scrapbook: rare photos and drawings from the legendary TV producer’s personal archive
  • At Last Some Pictures: image gallery of promotional material
  • Reproductions of two scripts for the incomplete episodes
  • Illustrated booklet with Not Quite 500 Words by Tim Brooke-Taylor, Steve Bryant’s account of recovering and restoring the programmes and a look at the show’s place in comedy history by the BFI’s Dick Fiddy, plus episode notes with transmission dates and credits

Do Not Adjust Your Set DVD cover art

Do Not Adjust Your Set, a madcap sketch show with a cult following, was a huge influence on television comedy. Written by and starring Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Eric Idle, with performances and additional material by David Jason and Denise Coffey, it also provided a showcase for Terry Gilliam’s animations and the musical antics of art-school jazz-anarchists The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. This collection brings together all the existing shows from the Rediffusion and Thames series for the first time. Among the five episodes entirely new to DVD, two were previously thought lost entirely.

On Sunday 8 September at 17:40 in NFT1, there will be a special screening of two episodes of Do Not Adjust Your Set (one newly recovered). After the screening, a fully illustrated panel discussion will look back at the series and assess its importance within the Monty Python canon.

Do Not Adjust Your Set Collector's Edition 3-DVD special features:

  • Putting Strange Things Together (2019, 33 mins); Michael Palin recalls his early TV days, including Do Not Adjust Your Set
  • We Just Want You to Invent the Show (2019, 34 mins): Humphrey Barclay on his comedy career from Footlights to Rediffusion
  • The Uninvited Guest Star (2019, 5 mins): Tim Brooke-Taylor on his Do Not Adjust Your Set appearance
  • The Funniest Thing on English Television (2019, 7 mins): John Cleese reflects on the show’s impact
  • Bonzos on the Box (2019, 60 mins): new feature-length documentary on The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band featuring Neil Innes, Rodney Slater, Roger Ruskin-Spear and ‘Legs’ Larry Smith
  • The Doo-Dah Discotheque (2019): a Bonzo video jukebox
  • The Intro and the Outro (2018, 2 mins): a newly filmed introduction by Neil Innes
  • The Christmas Card (1968, 3 mins); Beware of the Elephants (1968, 3 mins); Learning to Live With an Elephant (1968, 4 mins): animations by Terry Gilliam, newly scanned from his own 35mm film masters
  • Lost Listens (1969, audio): rare sound-only excerpts from missing Thames episodes
  • Do Not Adjust Your Scripts: reproductions of scripts from missing Rediffusion episodes
  • The Humphrey Barclay Scrapbook: photos, cuttings and drawings from the legendary producer’s personal archive
  • Illustrated booklet with an introduction by Michael Palin, an exclusive interview with David Jason, new contributions from Humphrey Barclay, Neil Innes, ‘Legs’ Larry Smith and Kaleidoscope’s Chris Perry, plus essay and episode guide by the BFI’s Vic Pratt, comedy context by the BFI’s Dick Fiddy and musical notes by The Doo-Dah Diaries’ David Christie