The Complete and Utter History of Britain (found British sketch comedy TV series; 1969)

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The Complete and Utter Title Card.png

Title Card from the Web release.

Status: Found

Date found: 02 Oct 2023

Found by: Unknown

The Complete and Utter History of Britain is a British sketch comedy show created by Michael Palin and Terry Jones, famously known as being part of the popular comedy group, "Monty Python." Before Monty Python's Flying Circus, this was the last time any of the members of Monty Python filmed together before officially forming the group.[1]


The show was built on the idea of television existing for thousands of years, and how famous British events would have been reported on. The show featured interviews from various figures from British history, usually caught in silly situations, like the Norman Army cooling off in the showers after the battle of Hastings.[1] Most of the characters were played by Palin and Jones, with other cast members being Wallas Easton, Colin Gordon, Roddy Maude-Roxby, Melinda May, and Diana Quick.[2]


Maurice Murphy was the director, and London Weekend Television were the producers.[2] The show filmed 7 episodes, all covering nearly the entirety of British history. However, the first two episodes were stitched together by London Weekend Television as almost a highlight reel and was aired as a single episode.[3] The show aired as a 6-part series in the chronological order of the history covered, intentionally rewarding viewers who were already versed in British history.[4] The show may have even been a precursor to Monty Python's interest to older time periods in their movies.[1]


The show was one of many victims of BBC wiping the tapes of their shows after they believed they didn't have any use for them anymore, reusing the tapes for other episodes.[5][4][1] This caused the belief that the whole show was completely lost. However, London Weekend Television's stitching of the first two episodes angered the director, Maurice, so much that he kept the original copies of the unaltered first two episodes in his collection. The third (aired as the second) episode was also found from a home recording. Terry Jones also kept all sketches that were filmed on location in his private collection.[3] The rest of the episodes have not been fully found, with only certain fragments and sketches resurfacing.

In 2013, Michael Palin and Terry Jones re-shot multiple lost scenes to help a DVD reconstructing all the found sketches and episodes into one pack. The scenes were wrap-around segments linking the sketches together. A majority of the original wrap-arounds, however, are still lost.[3]

On 2 October 2023, the four previously missing episodes were released on British streaming platforms BritBox and ITVX without fanfare.




Fragment of an episode included in The New Incomplete and Utter History Of Britain DVD.

Another fragment of an episode

Yet another fragment.

See Also (Other programs that may/not may wiped by BBC)

External Links