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Pleasure at Her Majesty's (1976)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Comedy | TV Movie February 1978
Pleasure At Her Majesty's (1976) The very first show in what came to be called the "Secret Policeman's Ball" series took place over three late nights in April 1976 at Her Majesty's Theatre ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
... Various
John Bird ... Various
... Various
Tim Brooke-Taylor ... Various Characters
... Various
... Pet Shop Customer / The Pope / Various
... Various
... E.L. Wisty / Various
... Various
... Various
... Various
... Edna Everage
Neil Innes ... Various
Des Jones ... Various
... Various


Pleasure At Her Majesty's (1976) The very first show in what came to be called the "Secret Policeman's Ball" series took place over three late nights in April 1976 at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. The show was instigated by John Cleese, who volunteered to "round up a few pals" to perform for Amnesty International's benefit. These pals transpired to be most of Monty Python, Beyond The Fringe and The Goodies (three of the U.K.'s most successful comedy ensembles) -- together with leading solo performers. It was a gathering of the British comedic tribes. Cleese titled the show "A Poke In The Eye (With A Sharp Stick)." The film documenting this comedy summit was titled Pleasure At Her Majesty's -- a wordplay on the formal British expression for imprisonment in which convicts are "detained at Her Majesty's pleasure."

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Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

February 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Monty Python Meets Beyond the Fringe  »

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Did You Know?


This was the film version of the Amnesty International stage show "A Poke In The Eye (With A Sharp Stick)". See more »


Eleanor Bron: It is particularly gratifying to see so many young faces here tonight. We often think that young people today are only out for a good time. Well, that certainly can't be said of these young people.
See more »


Followed by The Secret Policeman's Third Ball (1987) See more »

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User Reviews

Uneven but very funny record of the meeting of comic minds
9 January 2005 | by See all my reviews

It was the meeting of the giants of British comedy from the 1960's and 1970's, Monthy Python(minus Eric Idle), Fringe (minus Dudley Moore),The Goodies, Dame Edna, Elenor Bron, Neil Innes... pretty much everyone other than the Goons performing in the first of the Amensty International events that were later the stuff of legend in the Secret Policeman's Balls. The legends of comedy performing the classics of comedy to mixed results.

The show is funny. Of that there is no doubt but its strangely put together. Mixing both on stage material with the performers backstage it shows you stuff that no other film of the events does. Its mostly wonderful stuff always bringing smiles if not down right laughs to the viewer but whom ever put it together chopped up the bits in a very awkward way so that you get the Peter Cook piece on being a miner broken in parts by backstage talk or the lecture on comedy inter-cut with Jonathan Miller talking about the bit on stage. Its nice for a documentary, but not as a record of a comedy performance in that it kills the timing.

The film also suffers from the fact that the film was shot in an almost archaic style of one or two cameras in one position filming all of the action. There are almost not cut aways only a shift in focus or a turn of the camera to follow the action. Its quaint, but they never considered how it might look years later with changes in camera technique.

The problem of time ravaging the print is a serious one. Although the running time is 75 minutes the print I saw runs several minutes shorter and is extremely scratchy. Its sad that a cultural document like this wasn't better cared for. I would love to see all the footage shot (especially the backstage stuff) but my guess is that its probably gone or in in such poor condition there could never be a restoration. Then again considering how some of the later Policema's Ball films of more recent vintage are also in bad shape and are now missing entire performances we should feel lucky to have what we have.

If you want 70 odd minutes of mirth see the film. And if you can buy it, the money goes to a good cause.

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