‘The Film That’s Banned in Harrogate’: Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979), Local Censorship, Comedy and Local Resistance

Egan, Kate (2021) ‘The Film That’s Banned in Harrogate’: Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979), Local Censorship, Comedy and Local Resistance. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 41 (1). pp. 152-171. ISSN 0143-9685

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/01439685.2020.1815363


This article investigates the banning of Monty Python’s Life of Brian by 39 local councils in the United Kingdom in late 1979 and early 1980. Focusing on three of these local areas – Harrogate, Dudley and Swansea – it draws on discursive analysis of local newspaper debate generated by both editors and readers, and the various arguments and strategies they employed to question the right of the local council to remove Life of Brian from their communities, including arguments relating to consumer choice and freedom and local trade and cultural reputation. Through doing this, the article foregrounds an approach that has yet to be explored extensively within the emergent body of work on local film censorship in the UK, advocating for the fruitfulness of a community-based historical analysis of resistance to local film regulation as well as the more commonly employed council-based analysis of local government files and archives. The article also considers the Life of Brian case study as an example of local film controversy where the themes and features of the film itself were drawn on by local resisters of the ban in a range of creative and productive ways.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: local film censorship; local newspapers; Monty Python; comedy and censorship
Subjects: W600 Cinematics and Photography
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2020 11:19
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2022 03:30
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/44212

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