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 Amazon.com 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.