Rutland Weekend Television, 1975
Rutland Weekend Television was a BBC sketch show created by Eric Idle, it was his first TV project following the end of Monty Python’s Flying Circus the previous year.
The show ran for two series totalling fourteen episodes that included a 1975 Christmas Special.
The title was a play on the ITV franchise London Weekend Television. The show itself was made on a shoestring budget after Eric Idle was accidentally awarded a presentation budget instead of the bigger budgets usually associated with light entertainment. This became a running gag throughout the series.
Indeed In a 1975 interview for Radio Times Eric Idle remarked “It was made on a shoestring budget, and someone else was wearing the shoe. The studio is the same size as the weather forecast studio and nearly as good. We had to bring the sets up four floors for each scene, then take them down again. While the next set was coming up, we’d change our make-up. Every minute mattered. It’s not always funny to be funny from ten in the morning until ten at night. As for ad-libbing, what ad-libbing? You don’t ad-lib when you’re working with three cameras and anyway the material goes out months after you’ve made it.”
The series was the catalyst for parody rock band The Rutles, another post for another day.
Set in a down-at-heel television station serving England’s smallest county comes this low budget sketch show.
Helmed by Idle as a cheesy onscreen announcer, desperately talking up the “super” fare on offer. The show offered dramatic parodies, surreal sketches and musical numbers.
Rutland Weekend Television will probably always be best remembered for the creation of the Beatles-esque combo, The Rutles.
Created and Written By: Eric Idle
Original Transmission Dates: 12th May 1975 – 24th December 1976