» » At Last the 1948 Show

Short summary

Surreal, sketch based TV comedy series. Two series were produced in 1967 by the commercial company Associated Rediffusion. In style and content, a forerunner of 'Monty Python's Flying Circus', which shared some members of the cast.

The title is a light hearted dig at the TV executives who took so long to get it on screen.

Ten of the 13 episodes were accidentally erased. By 2003, six complete episodes existed. Film extracts from six of the seven missing episodes were made into compilation episodes that were sold to Swedish TV. In 2014, two episodes were found among the collection of executive producer David Frost. They were on 16mm film and had been filmed directly from a television screen. Complete audio recordings exist for all episodes.

The series featured sketches and gags which the Monty Python team would go on to adopt, including the "Four Yorkshiremen" skit, and the line "And now for something completely different..."

Guest stars included Eric Idle, Bill Oddie, Barry Cryer, and Jo Kendall.

In many ways, this television program was an extension of the popular and long-running BBC radio program, "I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again." Not only do they share cast (Tim Brooke-Taylor, Jo Kendall, John Cleese) and ties to the Cambridge Footlights, several running gags from ISIRTA show up as jokes here. Most notably, jokes about gibbons and chartered accountants were regularly told on ISIRTA, and both are present in the first episode here.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: DEAD-SHOT
    Believed lost for decades, this series is finally available on DVD (well, five episodes of it, at least), and it is definitely one of the great comedy finds. Written by and starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Marty Feldman, it is one of the clearest forerunners of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" (along with "Do Not Adjust Your Set," which has also been given an archival release). Not only that, it shows four bright, young comedians clearly having fun with the medium and producing some high-quality comedy.

    The series even features Eric Idle in various bit parts, so some of the cross-pollination that lead to the creation of Python was already taking place. Pity the other eight episodes are still lost.
  • comment
    • Author: Heraly
    At last, the chance to compare what's left of this show (bringing John Cleese and Graham Chapman together with Tim Brooke-Taylor and Marty Feldman, with 'the lovely' Aimi MacDonald) with the other pre-Python comedy show, Do Not Adjust Your Set.

    Five compilation episodes from the 1948 Show are now available on DVD, and although the viewing quality is pretty poor, there are some gems here - the Four Yorkshiremen (done later by Python at the Hollywood Bowl and by Python plus Rowan Atkinson at the Secret Policeman's Ball); the Plain Clothes Policeman (where Cleese, Chapman and Feldman are in unconvincing drag); the Chartered Accountant Dance (Tim Brooke-Taylor in one of the highlights of the set); the Sidney Lockerbys; and much more.

    Aimi MacDonald, all set hair and impish smile, soon gets tedious with her introductions and her links; but the comedy sketches stand up well. Not as mad or as silly as DNAYS (which after all was aimed at a younger audience) but just as valuable in seeing where the roots of Python (and The Goodies) came from. The real scene-stealer here though is Marty Feldman (how could he not be with those eyes?) although all four are a lot of fun.
  • comment
    • Author: Anarius
    Contrary to popular belief, Monty Python's Flying Circus did not spring fully-formed out of thin air. In the heady days of the early sixties lots of young British comic performers were coming up with ideas for shows that, like radio's Goon Show of the fifties, would break the mould of the rather stuffy sitcoms of the time. In 1967, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Marty Feldman and Tim Brooke-Taylor got together, with "the lovely" Aimee McDonald as presenter, to create 1967's "At Last the 1948 Show" (the title was based on the idea that TV executives would sit on shows for years before finally broadcasting them). The result was a surreal comic sketch show that can hold its own against the best Python material. Indeed, one sketch involving four impoverished Yorkshiremen, was later incorporated into Python's live routine, and some other 1948 Show sketches were used in the Pythons' two German TV specials. Other highlights include a rather strange English-for-beginners playlet in which Cleese refuses to stick to the script, and a Newhart-style single-header in which Cleese plays a neurotic headmaster (shades of Basil Fawlty already!) The show was produced for the commercial ITV Network, and the copyrights were held by David Frost's production company. Sadly after a few years this company decided to wipe the series, and only two complete episodes out of 26 survived. Some best-of-series compilations were later found in an archive in Sweden, of all places. While the loss of the complete series is a tragedy for students of TV comedy, I can only hope that the surviving material will someday be released on video, so we can all have a good laugh at what's left.
  • comment
    • Author: Zolorn
    Okay, it is black-and-white, but that is what we had in those days. We considered ourselves lucky to have pictures! We were happier then, despite being poor. BECAUSE we were poor! Not long before The 1948 show, this zany British humour could only be found on the radio, in ISIRTA (I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again) or the Goon Show. (Thinks! Did not mention Telegoons! Thinks again... should not think aloud). Afterwards came Monty Python, admittedly zanier and more polished, but At Last The 1948 Show has some advantages for being early in the learning process of translating weirdness to television: it has a warmer touch to it, partly because the actors are more candid, and partly because they are not trying to out-do what Spike Milligan nor Do Not Adjust Your Sets is up to (in fact there is friendly interaction with DNAYS).

    Some of the skits here were re-workings of material from radio or live performances, or would be repeated later, elsewhere. Yet these were often the best, the definitive versions. The acting isn't amateurish, it is more like a live performance; they are obviously comfortable with ad-libbing and everyone works well together. By not taking themselves too seriously, even the "lovely" female link between segments, they break molds and the viewer cannot help feeling this is something revolutionary, even today.

    But mostly this series is great because it has plenty of extremely funny moments in it, funnier than Monty Python, in my opinion, and done with great style. Pure, clean, unadulterated fun.
  • comment
    • Author: Hanad
    I watched the DVD release of the surviving material from "At last the 1948 show" and enjoyed it very much.

    The show is a funny humor show, more "classic" in its form than Monty Python and The Goodies. Ami MacDonald is a self-centered hostess pushing herself at any possible moment, while Cleese, Chapman, Brooke-Taylor and Feldman do sketches in-between.

    MacDonald is really the most daring part. Otherwise, much is classic punchline-driven sketches. However, beyond the punchlines and laughter tracks, you can feel the humor of what was to come. There are sketches very much in Monty Python-style (for example, "Let's speak English"), as well as Goodies style "Chartered accountant dance"). The show is most famous for including the original "Four Yourshiremen", which was written by Feldman and Brooke-Taylor, later used by Monty Python despite not really being their style. (There shouldn't be a punchline in a Monty Python sketch.)

    Fans of Marty Feldman, Monty Python or the Goodies (or why not all three?) will like this both for its humor and its historic/nostalgic value.
  • comment
    • Author: Jieylau
    Before we had 'Monty Python', we had 'At Last The 1948 Show'. This Associated Rediffusion sketch show featured some of the best comedy talent around at that time - Marty Feldman ( who later would land his own BBC sketch show ), Tim-Brooke Taylor ( who later became one of 'The Goodies' ), John Cleese and Graham Chapman ( both of which would later become part of the 'Monty Python' cast ). Aimi MacDonald opened and closed each show, describing herself as 'the lovely Aimi MacDonald'.

    It trod the same line as 'Monty Python' later would. Surreal sketches, sometimes dark in tone, clever wordplay and musical items. The title, 'At Last The 1948 Show', was a light hearted dig at TV executives inability to get productions in the can on schedule.

    Not all the sketches made their mark but there were some absolute corkers, such as a men's wear department wracking a customer with guilt in order to get him to purchase a shirt, a man going to visit a psychiatrist in belief that he is a rabbit and a group of police officers going under disguise as female dancers to crack a case. The best one of all was 'The Four Yorkshiremen' in which a group of wealthy men from Yorkshire reminisce about the days when they were poor, with each trying to outdo one another with tales of how worse off they were, each tale being more far fetched than the last.

    The two main comedians in the show were indeed John Cleese and Marty Feldman, though without Tim-Brooke Taylor and Graham Chapman, the show would have went nowhere. Aimi MacDonald's sketches I found rather irritating ( wasn't she gorgeous, though? ). Barry Cryer and Eric Idle appeared from time to time.

    For years, it was believed that only two of the thirteen episodes still existed however in recent years, more episodes have been rediscovered, meaning that only two of the 11 episodes are still missing. The next stepping stone to be laid for the path of 'Monty Python' was 'Do Not Adjust Your Set!' ( another Rediffusion show ) but in my opinion it was largely inferior in comparison.
  • Series cast summary:
    John Cleese John Cleese - Himself - Various Characters / - 13 episodes, 1967
    Graham Chapman Graham Chapman - Various Characters / - 13 episodes, 1967
    Tim Brooke-Taylor Tim Brooke-Taylor - Various Characters / - 13 episodes, 1967
    Marty Feldman Marty Feldman - Various Characters 13 episodes, 1967
    Aimi MacDonald Aimi MacDonald - Herself - Host 13 episodes, 1967
    Jo Kendall Jo Kendall - Various / - 13 episodes, 1967
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