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The Secret Policeman's Ball (1979)

A series of benefit concerts to raise money for Amnesty International. Performances include comedy skits and musical numbers by a varied cast of mostly British performers. Featuring several... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Paul Abrahams ...
Himself (Piano Player)
...
Various Roles
Chris Beetles ...
Beetles and Buckman
Mike Brearley ...
Himself
...
Various Roles
Rob Buckman ...
Beetles and Buckman
Ken Campbell ...
Himself
Suzanne Church ...
Herself
...
Himself - Various Roles
...
Himself
...
Various Roles
Anna Ford ...
Herself
Clive James ...
Himself
Clive Jenkins ...
Himself
...
Syveste McCoy (as Sylveste McCoy)
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Storyline

A series of benefit concerts to raise money for Amnesty International. Performances include comedy skits and musical numbers by a varied cast of mostly British performers. Featuring several Monty Python members, Rowan Atkinson, and Peter Cook. Written by Anonymous

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June 1980 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

O horos tou xefonimenou batsou  »

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(theatrical) | (TV premiere)

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Trivia

Pete Townshend who performs in the show, said on the 2009 "The Secret Policeman Rocks" DVD, "I love looking back at The Secret Policeman's Ball (1979). It showed us how to do it in a way that wasn't patronizing. I remember Martin Lewis who invited me to do the thing in the first place... I really, really relied on people like Martin and on other people to keep me abreast of what was going on...". In 2011, Townsend added, "It's 1979 that I appeared at The Secret Policeman's Ball (1979) - the Amnesty thing that John Cleese had kicked off. And my friend Martin Lewis had invited me to, in a sense, to kind of lighten the proceedings...to break up the comedy. And it was amazing subsequently to see what that triggered. Sting...Peter Gabriel...subsequently people like U2...Bruce Springsteen...and so on...Quite big names got involved in supporting Amnesty. And it became evident that big names in music and Amnesty melded very well. So it's good to see that what I did kicked that off. I feel that I planted a seed...". See more »

Quotes

Schoolmaster: All right, quiet. Ainsley. Babcock. Bland. Carthorse. Dint. Ellsworth-Beast Major. Ellsworth-Beast Minor. Fiat. German. Havenut. Haemoglobin. Jones M. Jones N. Kosygin. Loudhailer. Mattock. Nancyboy-Potter. Nibble.
[laughter]
Schoolmaster: I have a detention book. Orifice. Plectrum. Poise. Sediment. Soda. Taah. Taah? Under-Manager. Wicket. Williams-Wicket. Williams-Witcherley. Witcherley-Wicket. Witcherley-Williams. And Witcherley-Williams. Wocket. Zob. Hmmm, absent. All right, your essays. "Discuss the ...
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Connections

Followed by Amnesty International's Big 30 (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

In the Air Tonight
Written by Phil Collins
Piano accompanied version Performed by Phil Collins
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User Reviews

 
Uneven but funny...
5 December 2009 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This film is on the same disk as PLEASURE AT HER MAJESTY'S--and both are benefit performances by various British comics on behalf of Amnesty International. Unlike PLEASURE, however, THE SECRET POLICEMAN'S BALL has the addition of a few musical performances--which, in my opinion, detract from the comedy--though I am sure some will love seeing and hearing them. Like PLEASURE, this film is of rather grainy quality and does not have any captioning of any sort--a definite minus for non-Brits and those who are hard of hearing (and I was screwed because I fall in both categories). Seeing a restored and captioned version would be wonderful, but as far as I know is not possible--especially since this DVD is part of a set that was just released.

As far as the comedy goes, it's a mixed bag. Some of the skits (particularly the ones written by the Pythons) were great and I did enjoy some of Peter Cooke's bits as well. New to the show was Rowan Atkinson, and sadly, his bits were among the worst on the show. However, he was still quite young and the more recent Amnesty International performances have been fantastic. Plus, he was excellent in filling in for Eric Idle in "The Old Codger Skit"--the best thing in the show. Other great Python bits that were recycled include the Cheese Shop and a Python-like skit that opened the show with Cooke and Cleese. But, for every very good bit, there seemed to be a flat one. Perhaps some of this is because Americans like myself are less familiar with the other comics and I had less of an emotional investment in their acts. Part of this also was because some things just weren't funny or the dialog was so hard to follow (without captions) that it was futile--particularly the long and deliberately rapid Shakespeare bit (which, to me, was the worst thing in the show--very tedious indeed). Still, for fans of British comedy, this is an excellent little stroll down memory lane--and worth seeing despite my reservations. And, it's a great deal better than the first film--especially since this film concentrated solely on the performances and not the unnecessary backstage action.


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