Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Lanchester Arts Festival 1971

Lanchester Polytechnic. Sunday 31-January-1971.

One of the earliest gigs I went to in my youth was a very memorable double bill of Curved Air, featuring the lovely Sonja Kristina, followed by a late night show of Monty Python live.

Googling, I found a number of copies of the timetable online, clearly all the same image scanned once and borrowed multiple times as they all had identical tick marks against various events. I thought my own copy was long gone and was very pleasantly surprised to find it towards the bottom of my box of old theatre programs (See My Life In ... Theatre Programmes: Intro).

A simple, one-page, double-sided flyer, this is my copy.


Visiting my sister earlier this year, she reminded me that she had accompanied me on this outing which I had forgotten! Just as I was leaving, she rushed up with a copy of the full program which she remembered she had somewhere in her archives. So I present here selected pages and, available to download, the PDF of the complete program.

The "Mixed Media" event was a couple of poets, most memorably Ivor Cutler who had been featured on the John Peel radio show on a number of occasions followed by Curved Air, featuring the electric violin of Darryl Way and a lead vocals from the enchanting Sonja Kristina. I must have also heard Curved Air on John Peel's show as the single Back Street Luv had not yet hit the charts. I certainly had their debut album, Air Conditioning which was released the previous November.

First up Curved Air.


Sunday 31st January


Curved Air have been together since March 1970. Sonja Kristina, violinist and singer, Francis Monkman on lead guitar and keyboards, lan tyre on bass guitar and Florian Pilkington-Miksa as percussionist have adopted what is currently a very dynamic stage act, using "see-through" perspex guitars. They were chosen by "Hair" composer Galt McDermott to play the music for his "hate-rock" musical, "Who The Murderer Was", they then played at the Pop Proms and have one L.P. entitled "Air Conditioning", which is selling in enormous quantities.

I saw Ivor again some years later at The Roundhouse but that is for another post.



Ivor Cutler is a Scottish poet. He has two books, "Gruts" and "Cock-a-doodle-don't", and is at the moment writing books for children. His poetry has appeared in many newspapers and magazines, he has appeared on television and radio as well as at the Edinburgh Festival. He composed the music for Ken Russell's T.V. production of "Diary of a nobody" , and has made several records. He appeared at LAF70 amidst wild scenes.

Addenda: Appeared in "Magical Mystery Tour" as Buster Bloodvessel.
Books: "Meal One", out in April 1971.
"A Seal is a Sheep without Feet" (Poetry) out 1971.
Discs: "Life in a Scotch Sitting-room”, vol. 2.
Also an L.P. with Julie Driscoll singing Ivor Cutler.
Concert: Albert Hall 28th January with Soft Machine.
Bogs Paper: Poems and Cartoons in 'Wipe', the illustrated Bogs Paper.
Dial-a-Poem: Reading his poetry on 01-836-2872 from noon 22nd to noon 29th December 1970.
Teach-ins: available for free African-type drumming, creative poetry, drama etc.

At the end of the concert, a large percentage of the audience walked across the road en masse to see Monty Python live in a midnight show in the Belgrade Theatre chanting, as a mob, "Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye" [*]. Many of the audience were wearing knotted handkerchiefs on their head in the style of D P Gumby with cries of "My brain hurts!"

* "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" by Steam.

The Pythons did very few live shows. I feel privileged to have been in the audience on the first night of their first ever live show and see many of their famous sketches performed on stage, including the incomparable Dead Parrot sketch.

The Pythons were on at midnight and Jane and I had cheap seats up in the gods.






PENIS. Sir Arthur. Philosopher and flamboyant. b. 1902 d. 1938.
PYTHON. Montagu. (Monty) Impresario. b. on probation 1907 and again a year later. Only son of Mr. and Miss Samuel Python. Educated Harrods and Trinity Bldgs Camberwell. Founder of Monty Python's Flying Circus. (q.v.) Ex-poet, ex-Lumberjack, ex-Parson, ex-King Zog of Albania. Has recently co-produced a film "And Now For Something Completely Different", based on the life story of Tony Hateley, adapted by Ann Hayden-Jones and her husband "Pip"
PYTHON. Monty's. Flying Circus of. Founded by above. First sold to BBC TV in May 1969 as part of the deal that took David Coleman to Sport. (From Philosophy).
Containing, in height order:
CLEESE, John. The tallest. Voted Rectum of St. Andrews instead of Derek Nimmo. (TeeHee) He is reading a book which has no pictures in it.
CHAPMAN, Graham. Dr. 'The Mad Medic of Mirth" (Spotlight) "Scunthorpe has never laughed so much" (The Stage) A few weeks still available in July.
IDLE, Eric. The third tallest. Favourite colour, Black. Favourite acid, sulphuric. His ambition is to become an all-round family entertainer
PALIN, Michael. Writer/performer. Winner of Best Perf. Gent. 1962, Sheffield Co-op Drama Festival. (Honest). Married to Terry Jones. Michael is coloured.
JONES, Terry. Writer/delinquent. Interested in the Underground. Lives just South of it. School Gym Captain. Only went to Grammar School.
GILLIAM, Terry. Draws the pictures, and will be learning to write soon. He is an American and refuses to get out of Vietnam although he has been told repeatedly.
All five have previously written for David Frost Shows and wish to apologise publicly.

This is the first time Monty Python's Flying Circus has ever been performed on the stage. So there.



1) What have the following in common? a) Moshe Dayan. b) Sammy Davis Jr. c) The Nawab of Pataudi.
2) Edward Heath is a What?
3) Who wrote "The gushing leaves that through the argent windows blush"?
4) Can you name seven planets?
5) Which of the following is not in Asia? Lahore, Singapore, Dacca, Bangkok, Coventry.

1) They're all foreigners.
2) A bachelor.
3) I did.
4) Smartass.
5) Coventry (All the rest are in Asia).


The cast of Monty Python's Flying Circus met up through the medium of Oxbridge. John Cleese studied at Cambridge with Graham Chapman and took part in "Cambridge Circus" with Tim...

... Brooke-Taylor. Michael Palin was at Oxford, Eric Idle at Cambridge where he took part in the Pembroke "Smoker" revue club, started by Peter Cook, and the University Footlights Society. John and Graham resumed their writing partnership on the Frost Report and collaborated with Tim Brooke Taylor and Marty Feldman on "'At Last the 1948 Show".

John Cleese married Indianapolis-born actress Connie Booth in 1968 and took the next 15 months off to nurse a pulled muscle (the two events, he claims are quite coincidental), but he and Chapman joined Terry Southern, Peter Sellers and Joseph McGrath on the screenplay for the "Magic Christian". They were also ...

... co-authors, with Peter Cook and Kevin Billington of "The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer"

Michael Palin is best known on television for his brilliant compere/introducer scenes. He and Terry Gilliam, the American animator in MPFC, responsible for the weird and wonderful collage-animations, met up with Eric Idle on Rediffusion's "Do Not Adjust Your Set" and went on contributing to "Frost on Sunday" and the first Marty Feldman shows.

Eric Idle has written scripts for "I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again”, “The Frost Report", Roy Hudd and "Do Not Adjust Your Set". He wrote the screen play for a feature film with Roy "Albert Q.O.S.O." and contributed to London Weekend's "We Have Ways Of Making You Laugh".

It would be fair to say that Monty Python's Flying Circus was initially moulded around a personal admiration in each individual for Spike Milligan and his anarchistic, irrelevant humour. It is not in the true sense satirical but amazingly amusing and captivating.

"As I remember it what a night!".

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