The nine Ripping Yarns were made for the BBC from 1976 to 1978. After the Monty Python TV shows in the early 70’s Terry Jones and myself had to find a comedy formula that didn’t look like a rip-off of Python. So, rather than sketches, we decided to make each episode a self-contained story. I had given Terry a book of schoolboy stories called Ripping Yarns for Boys, and Terry’s brother Nigel suggested this might be fertile ground for comedy. The pilot was called Tomkinson’s Schooldays, and it went down well enough for the BBC to commission another five in the first series.
Using established drama actors like Ian Ogilvie and Denholm Elliott and shooting a lot on film again differentiated it from Python, but it made them quite costly and the second series saw only three shows commissioned, and The Wreck Of The Harvey Goldsmith was written but never made. George Harrison and Michael Parkinson were big fans.
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