The BBC is to screen a 90-minute drama in the autumn (fall), showcasing the controversy that surrounded the 1979 release of the Monty Python biblical classic movie, The Life Of Brian.
The original comedy movie, written by Terry Jones, revolved around a man called Brian Cohen (Graham Chapman) who is always being mistaken for the Messiah. In the film Brian was born on the "original Christmas" and in the stable next door (to the real Messiah). In the closing stages of the film he is crucified while singing Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.
When the film was first released it caused much anger and controversy in religious circles. The cornerstone of the critics' concern was that the film was "blasphemous" and an attack on the Christian faith. But in a famous live television debate, shown on a late-night chat show Friday Night, Saturday Morning, Python actor, John Cleese argued that " Brian and Jesus are actually two different characters". Mervyn Stockwell hosted the debate which featured fierce critics Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark.
The drama, which will be entitled Holy Flying Circus, will not be a biopic but a look into the story behind the Python team's struggle with the censors and the critics, reports Gordon Johnston's blog. The film was panned by several church leaders in both the UK and the US and many local authorities refused to show the film at local cinemas.
The drama expected to air on BBC4 will be written by Tony Roche, who is credited with past works such as In the Loop and The Thick of It. The Monty Python team will be played by actors - comedian and lookalike Steve Punt will star as Eric Idle, Rufus Jones plays Terry Jones, comedian Phil Nichol is Terry Gilliam and Tom Fisher plays the late Graham Chapman.