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Ripping Yarns

From Academic Kids

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The_complete_ripping_yarns_book_cover.jpg
The Complete Ripping Yarns (book) by Michael Palin (right) and Terry Jones (1999)

Ripping Yarns was a British television comedy series loosely in the style of Monty Python's Flying Circus, written by former Pythons Michael Palin and Terry Jones. Each episode neatly parodied some pre-war schoolboy genre or other.

Contents

Origin

The series grew out of a one-off BBC programme called "Tomkinson's Schooldays" (1975), loosely inspired by Tom Brown's Schooldays by Thomas Hughes. Palin and Jones both wrote and starred in multiple roles.

Palin and Jones then developed the idea into a series. Following a repeat of "Tomkinson's Schooldays" as the de facto pilot episode, a further five episodes were screened in 1977. A second series of three episodes followed in 1979. Jones did not appear in any of the later 8 episodes, and Palin usually confined himself to one or two roles per episode.

Pilot (1975):

  • "Tomkinson's Schooldays"

First series (1977):

  • "Tomkinson's Schooldays" (repeat of pilot with series title sequence added)
  • "The Testing of Eric Olthwaite"
  • "Escape from Stalag Luft 112 B"
  • "Murder at Moorstones Manor"
  • "Across the Andes by Frog"
  • "The Curse of the Claw"

Second series (1979):

  • "Whinfrey's Last Case"
  • "Golden Gordon"
  • "Roger of the Raj"

Production details

The pilot was shot on videotape with filmed exterior scenes and has a laugh track. The remaining episodes were all shot on film. They were also originally shown with laugh tracks, but with a couple of exceptions these have been omitted from repeats.

Books

The scripts were published in book form, with suitably sepia-tinted stills, as Ripping Yarns and More Ripping Yarns, and later collected in an omnibus volume, ISBN 0413773604, The Complete Ripping Yarns (1999).

Video and DVD

The series was released on three VHS tapes in the UK in the 1980s. Two of these compilations were reissued (not by the BBC) on Region 0 (worldwide) DVD in 2000, but fans were disappointed that no attempt had been made to remaster the sound and picture quality and that only 6 of the 9 episodes were included.

Fans continued to hope for a fully-restored complete edition, and this was finally fulfilled in October 2004 with the release of The Complete Ripping Yarns on a 2-disc Region 2 DVD set, with extras including commentaries on all nine episodes by Palin and Jones and a deleted scene (without soundtrack) from "Murder at Moorstones Manor". All of the episodes except "Tomkinson's Schooldays" and "Murder at Moorstones Manor" also have optional laugh-free soundtracks.

The DVD set also includes the only surviving (and rather poor quality) recording of Palin and Jones's comic BBC play Secrets from 1973.

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