Ripping Yarns – 1976

Michael Palin and Terry Jones’ spoof of pre-World War II literature aimed at schoolboys.  Running for two series totaling only nine episodes between 1976 and 1979.

Michael Palin had the idea for the name whilst driving down the A15 road and when passing the village of Rippingale in Lincolnshire. The name played in his mind until he turned it to Ripping Yarns.

The series itself came off the back of a one off BBC program called Tomkinson’s Schooldays.  This was loosely inspired by the famous book Tom Brown’s Schooldays and was shown in 1976, becoming the pilot episode for a series of five stories that would follow in 1977 entitled “Ripping Yarns”  The second series was shorter, screened in 1979, it totaled only three episodes.

The show was originally filmed with a laughter track, this has been omitted from subsequent repeats.


Each episode had a different setting and characters, each looking at a different aspect of British culture, essentially sending up the old pre- war boy’s adventure book, from stirring tales of sporting endeavour, intrepid exploration and wartime heroism to skulduggery, supernatural mystery and murder… and, of course, the notorious exploits of Eric Olthwaite – Yorkshire’s most interesting outlaw.










Michael Palin
Terry Jones


BBC1 – Tomkinson’s School Days
BBC2 – Ripping Yarns
Written By: Michael Palin and Terry Jones
Original Transmission Dates: 7th January 1976 (Pilot), 27th September 1977 – 24th October 1979 (Series)


The complete series is available on DVD from Network On Air





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