n 1979 the Monty Python comedy team return from making their film 'Monty Python's Life of Brian' in Tunisia. Premiered in America the film is pilloried by ultra-right religious groups for its depiction of Christ. In England the Popular Peoples' Church of St Sophia (whose members include a Tourette's sufferer who shouts out swear words) find a copy of the script in a dustbin and lobby the British censor for its suppression, leading to many local councils banning its screening. Death threats follow and Michael Palin - "the nicest man in Britain" - has his effigy burned on his front lawn. Finally crazed TV programmer Alan Dick persuades Palin and co-star John Cleese to defend the picture on a late night chat show against the Bishop of Southwark and religious commentator Malcolm Muggeridge. Thanks to Cleese's reasoning the Pythons are seen to triumph, winning over the Popular Peoples' Church. A later encounter with God will show how the film's controversy paved the way for other artistic endeavours which prompted protest. Brilliant characterisations are vitiated by a satirical 'treatment' including animated sequences and irritating attempts at surreal wit when a documentary style treatment would have sufficed. Several of the Pythons were hostile to the film, summed up in the floor manager's comment. "Another fantasy sequence...lame".

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