Entertainment Movies On this day: Monty Python begins filming Life of Brian
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On this day: Monty Python begins filming Life of Brian

life of Brian begins filming this day in 1979
Graham Chapman and Terry Jones in a scene from Life Of Brian. Photo: Getty
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On this day in 1978, filming began on Monty Python’s controversial blockbuster, Life of Brian.

Slammed for being blasphemous and disrespectful, the movie unleashed widespread protests on its release.

In the UK, 39 local authorities either imposed an outright ban, or imposed an X-rated classification that effectively stopped the film from being shown as the distributors demanded it be shown unedited.

Some countries, including Ireland and Norway, banned its screening, with some of those bans lasting decades.

Life of brian
Members of the British comedy team, Monty Python, during the filming of Life of Brian (from left) John Cleese as a centurion, Michael Palin as Pontius Pilate and Graham Chapman as Biggus Dickus. Photo: Evening Standard/Getty

Nevertheless, Life of Brian has endured as one of the most highly regarded comedies, and films, of all time.

The UK’s Channel 4 and newspaper The Guardian have cited it as the greatest ever comedy film, while a 2011 Time Out magazine poll ranked it as the third-greatest comedy ever made, behind Airplane! and This is Spinal Tap.

Rotten Tomatoes has it as one of its best-reviewed comedies, with a 95 per cent approval rating from 61 published reviews, while Empire magazine ranked it second in its list of the 100 best British films, topped only by David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia.

It has given the world several great lines, including: “He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!”, “What have the Romans ever done for us?” and “I’m Brian and so’s my wife.”