KERA marks 35 years of British comedy with “Monty Python” marathon

Maybe Dallas is a little conservative, but we have a sense of humor. And KERA, the local PBS member station, is something of a comedy pioneer. In September 1974, KERA was the first station in the United States to air the iconic BBC show "Monty Python’s Flying Circus."

The station is celebrating 35 years of airing British comedy in Dallas with a "Monty Python’s Flying Circus" marathon, begining Saturday at 7 p.m. The marathon also includes the world premiere of "Monty Python Before and After," a documentary about the show, which first aried on the BBC in 1969. The station also is showing "Monty Python’s Personal Best," in which cast members pick their favorite moments from the show, at 10 p.m. tonight and Friday.

The story goes that Ron Devillier, who was in charge of KERA’s programming in 1974, got a box of tapes from the BBC. "He wound up watching all the tapes on a Saturday and he thought it was the funniest thing he’d ever seen," says the station’s current program director, Bill Young, who lives in our neighborhood. So Devillier bought the show, and then he started worrying about how Dallas audiences would take it.

More after the jump.

"But it turned out to be the highest-rated show the station had ever had," Young says. "Luckily for him, the station president at the time was Bob Wilson, father of Luke and Owen."

That was the start of KERA’s British comedy lineup, which was Sunday at 10 p.m. Now the station has a three-hour lineup on Saturday night, and a four-hour lineup on Sundays. And KERA plays more British comedies than the BBC, Young says. He recently launched a blog called Tellyspotting, all about British comedy. 

If you want some reasons to remember why "Monty Python" is considered a pioneer of comedy, click here, here and here.


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