Ripping Yarns

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Ripping Yarns is a British television comedy series, shown on BBC 2 from 1976 to 1979. It was written by Michael Palin and Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. Each episode had a different setting and characters, each looking at a different aspect of British culture and parodying pre-World War II literature aimed at schoolboys.



The series grew out of a one-off BBC programme called Tomkinson's Schooldays (1976), loosely inspired by Tom Brown's Schooldays, and suggested by BBC director Terry Hughes. Palin and Jones both wrote and starred in multiple roles.[1]

Palin thought of the name while driving down the A15 road and when passing the village of Rippingale in Lincolnshire. The name played in his mind till he turned it to Ripping Yarns. The Manor house used to film "The Curse of the Claw" was Rippingale House near Bourne, and its grounds and Vicarage.[1]


Production details

Tomkinson's Schooldays was shot on videotape with filmed exterior scenes and has a laugh track. The remaining episodes were all shot on film. They were also originally shown with laugh tracks, but with a couple of exceptions these have been omitted from reruns.[2]

The theme tune for the series was Fanfare from the Facade Suite No 2', by Sir William Walton, played by the City of Birmingham Orchestra, conducted by Louis Fremaux.


Terry Hughes directed most of the episodes, and would later direct The Two Ronnies, The Golden Girls and 3rd Rock from the Sun.[2] Others were the responsibility of Jim Franklin, known for The Goodies, and two episodes in the second series were directed by Alan J. W. Bell, also known for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Last of the Summer Wine.[2] Bell used Michael Radford who would later become noted for the films Nineteen Eighty-Four, White Mischief and Il Postino.[2]

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