History was never as straight as we are told. Recording our history means reporting the truth.

Graham Chapman (1941 –1989) was an English comedian, writer, actor, and one of the six members of the surreal comedy group Monty Python. He played authority figures such as the Colonel and the lead role in two Python films, Holy Grail and Life of Brian. Chapman was openly homosexual and in a relationship with David Sherlock for most of his life. He suffered from alcoholism during his time at Cambridge and the early Python years. Chapman died of tonsil and spinal cancer on 4 October 1989, on the eve of Monty Python's 20th anniversary. He first disclosed his homosexuality in public on British jazz musician George Melly's television show, becoming one of the first celebrities to do so. He was a vocal spokesman for gay rights, supporting the Gay Liberation Front and the newspaper Gay News, which listed him as one of the publication's "special friends" in recognition.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus: The group's influence on comedy has been compared to The Beatles' influence on music but, almost 50 years later, it is interesting to look back through the lens of the differences in society that almost half a century in time has brought about. In 1969 Homophobia seemed not only common, but generally accepted. Monty Python’s Flying Circus, was a great example of this. Chapman was a founding member, who was also militantly pro- gay, which begs the question of how he must have felt about the gay-bashing humor included in a lot of the Pythons sketches. Especially when he was a major participant in it. The most likely answer is that he knew that this was the way it was in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and decided to, as Monty Python themselves would say, “get on with it!” Unfortunately he could not be reached for comments at this time.

The History Boys is a play by British gay playwright Alan Bennett. It premiered at the Royal National Theatre in London on 18 May 2004. Its Broadway debut was on 23 April 2006 at the Broadhurst Theatre where 185 performances were staged before it closed on 1 October 2006. The play won multiple awards, including the 2005 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play and the 2006 Tony Award for Best Play. The play opens in a fictional boys' grammar school in the north of England. Set in the early 1980s, it follows a group of history pupils preparing for the Oxford and Cambridge entrance examinations under the guidance of three teachers (Hector, Irwin, and Lintott) with contrasting styles. Hector, an eccentric teacher, delights in knowledge for its own sake; Irwin, a supply teacher, is hired to introduce a rather more cynical and ruthless style of teaching. Hector is discovered sexually fondling a boy and later Irwin's latent homosexual inclinations emerge. The character of Hector was based on the schoolmaster and author Frank McEachran (1900–1975). In 2006 it was made into a comedy-drama film adapted by Alan Bennett from the play. It was directed by Nicholas Hytner, who directed the original production at the Royal National Theatre in London, and features the original cast of the play.

Alan Bennett (9 May 1934) English playwright, screenwriter, actor and author. His collaboration as writer and performer with Dudley Moore, Jonathan Miller and Peter Cook in the satirical revue Beyond the Fringe at the 1960 Edinburgh Festival brought him instant fame. The Pythons were great admirers of their work. His work includes The Madness of George III and its film adaptation, the series of monologues Talking Heads, the play and subsequent film The History Boys. His play The Lady in the Van has just been released as a movie, starring Maggie Smith, and tells the true story of Alan Bennett's strained friendship with Miss Mary Shepherd, an eccentric homeless woman whom Bennett befriended in the 1970s before allowing her temporarily to park her van in the driveway of his Camden (London) home. She stayed there for 15 years. Bennett still lives in Camden Town, and shares his home with Rupert Thomas, the editor of World of Interiors magazine.

 

 

 


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