Series filming locations

The Michael Palin thirtieth anniversary BBC Television special "Pythonland" piqued my interest in finding locations, mostly around London, where various MPFC sketches were filmed. Pythonland gives a few of them away, most notably the beginning of the Ministry of Silly Walks and New Gas Cooker, both of which were filmed on Thorpebank Road in London (Gas Cooker at 94, MSW at 107). Some other sites, while visited, had descriptions so vague that they are of little use in finding the actual spots; for instance, the main location of the Bicycle Repairman sketch was described as a neat English lane "underneath the Heathrow flight path", which doesn't narrow things down much, ditto the laundromat where the same sketch began. Palin visits the house where the Seduced Milkmen sketch began, but he doesn't name the street. A street sign is shown briefly and fades out quickly as he approaches the house, which may or may not be the street the house is located on. More vague descriptions accompany Palin's visits to Climbing the North Face of the Uxbridge Road (actually filmed on the East Acton Road), and the location of the manhole cover used by Hell's Grannies. Given the attention to detail and precision in most BBC documentaries, I was disappointed that Pythonland did not include more specific details.

I have begun the process of sifting through the diary Michael Palin kept at the time Python was being filmed, which now and again yields a location, but it takes a lot of reading for relatively little return. To be fair, this wasn't the primary purpose of the book, but I was hoping for a little more along these lines. Much of this information may have been lost to history, as an author who has access to many of the original BBC scripts and filming notes told me that the locations are not listed on many of the documents.

Through perseverance and maybe a little luck, I am about to acquire (pun intended) the Holy Grail of Python filming location guides: The Japanese guidebook shown by Palin in Pythonland just before he travels to Teddington Lock where the Fish Slapping Dance was filmed. The book is apparently now out of print but I found a used copy on which I promptly purchased. I had looked for the book many times with a search engine with no results. The turning point came when I saw the book listed in a bibliography in the Daily Llama, which listed the ISBN number of the book. I did an ISBN lookup and the rest, as they say, is history. A Japanese language bookshop in New York City had one in stock.

The book should arrive sometime this week. I am hoping that there is enough English text in it for me to be able to decipher a few more locales, which I will visit on my next trip to London.

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KenCleanAirSystem: Truth be known, I would love it if I were able to conduct Python tours of London. One problem is finding enough locations to make it worthwhile and hoping that there is still enough interest from the general public to keep me from starving to death while doing it. One potential issue that I noticed while taking a Beatles tour of Liverpool is that like the tour in Liverpool, many of the locations that would be visited are private residences, and keeping tour participants from disturbing the current residents or taking "souvenirs" from the property might be a chore. Enough complaints from the residents over being disturbed would kill the entire venture.

GloriaTheWarrior: ULALA THAT SOunds exciting! :D

charlotte93: That is some quest you have begun. To be honest I'm a little jealous because it really sounds like a good idea to follow in the footsteps of Monty Python. I hope that you one day will publish some of the adress so others also can try out this great idea.
Good luck, I really hope that the book provides the information that you need to complete your quest. ;)

KenCleanAirSystem at 9:51 pm February 08

The book has arrived. Not one scrap of English in it. Now I must find someone fluent in both English and Japanese (or at least someone who can read Japanese and speak English) to get anything out of this. I was hopeful that there was at least some English - as there is in many Japanese guidebooks that give addresses, locations and so forth.

As I gain information about filming locations, I will post them here. Some that I know already, mainly from the Python anniversary special Pythonland:

Fish Slapping Dance - Teddington Lock

Upper Class Twit of the Year - Hurlingham Park (the grandstand shown in the sketch was torn down about ten years ago)

Gas Cooker Sketch - 94 Thorpebank Road, Shepherds Bush

Ministry of Silly Walks (sketch opening) - 107 Thorpebank Road. At the time of the filming it was a corner shop. It has since been converted into a house.

Olympic Hide and Seek (opening scene) - Trafalgar Square

Nationwide - Westminster Bridge (southeast corner).