Monty Python’s Dead Parrot Returns (and This Time it’s 50-Foot-Tall)

17 July 2014

For Londoners yesterday it was time for something completely different.  Along the banks of the River Thames which runs through the heart of the city a rather large dead parrot, fifty foot in height (or length depending on the time of day and the bird’s recumbence), had been deposited.  Although it may have bemused any number of tourists for most British people a dead parrot is an immediately recognizable cultural icon. It can mean only one thing – Monty Python.

The (in)famous dead parrot sketch was recently voted number one by the British public (in terms of Python sketches and it would without doubt get in to any top ten comedy poll undertaken in the UK).  So when it comes to promoting the live stage show (it should have been called Pension Plan Python) the troupe are currently performing at the city’s 02 Arena, what better than the dead parrot?


If you need a reminder here it is in all its glory – starring an incredibly youthful looking pair by the names of John Cleese and Michael Palin.

In fact the parrot’s presence was not simply to herald the return of the Monty Python team to London – the shows have been going down spectacularly well and the tickets are more or less sold out.  In fact I just checked and the only ones left for the final performance on July 20 are Level 1 Side View (that seems quite appropriate given the way my grandmother used to look askance at the TV screen when the original show was on in the 1970s: these seats would be perfect for her, were she not an ex-grandmother).

No, the Pythons have decided to reach out to a much larger audience than the paltry 20,000 that the arena can contain.  Instead they have struck a deal with the UK TV channel Gold to broadcast their final performance live from 7.30pm.  This event, of course, demands just that little extra special marketing touch – hence the gigantic ex- parrot (or maybe it's just resting) in London. 

Python star Terry Gilliam gave it his own inimitable seal of approval before it went on display.

Whatever the reason for its sudden presence, Londoners, as ever, took this latest strange site in their stride.  One can’t help but think that although the dead parrot might receive greater publicity from its positioning in the English capital (and it does look resplendent in front of Tower Bridge) that it may have felt more at home in Bolton or Ipswich.

Pictures courtesy of Taylor Herring


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