Discussion:
Rampage of the Cancerous Black Spot
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EDM
2006-10-19 10:38:45 UTC
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I have some off-the-air recordings of MPFC episodes, and in one
of the animated bits ("Rampage of the Cancerous Black Spot"),
Michael Palin tells a story of an enchanted prince who finds a
black spot on his face. Now in my recording the line goes,
"Foolishly, he ignored it...and three years later he died of syphilis",
but in every rerun I've seen of that episode the word syphilis is
overdubbed (rather obviously) with either "cancer", or, in one
case, "gangrene".

Anyone know the history of this edit? Was the word syphilis
considered too risque by British censors at the time?
Albert Sims
2006-10-19 11:26:14 UTC
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Post by EDM
I have some off-the-air recordings of MPFC episodes, and in one
of the animated bits ("Rampage of the Cancerous Black Spot"),
Michael Palin tells a story of an enchanted prince who finds a
black spot on his face. Now in my recording the line goes,
"Foolishly, he ignored it...and three years later he died of syphilis",
but in every rerun I've seen of that episode the word syphilis is
overdubbed (rather obviously) with either "cancer", or, in one
case, "gangrene".
Anyone know the history of this edit? Was the word syphilis
considered too risque by British censors at the time?
First time I've heard "syphilis" being used. In the original airing,
Carol Cleveland is narrating the story, and says "cancer". In later
years, a male voice is dubbed in JUST over the word "cancer", that says
"gangrene". Not sure why the change, unless the group was just being
sensitive to Graham's throat cancer...
--
Albert Sims
West Monroe,Louisiana
EDM
2006-10-19 11:57:08 UTC
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Post by Albert Sims
Post by EDM
I have some off-the-air recordings of MPFC episodes, and in one
of the animated bits ("Rampage of the Cancerous Black Spot"),
Michael Palin tells a story of an enchanted prince who finds a
black spot on his face. Now in my recording the line goes,
"Foolishly, he ignored it...and three years later he died of syphilis",
but in every rerun I've seen of that episode the word syphilis is
overdubbed (rather obviously) with either "cancer", or, in one
case, "gangrene".
Anyone know the history of this edit? Was the word syphilis
considered too risque by British censors at the time?
First time I've heard "syphilis" being used. In the original airing,
Carol Cleveland is narrating the story, and says "cancer". In later
years, a male voice is dubbed in JUST over the word "cancer", that says
"gangrene". Not sure why the change, unless the group was just being
sensitive to Graham's throat cancer...
Ah ok, I wasn't remembering it correctly. I came across this:
http://web.ukonline.co.uk/sotcaa/sotcaa_python.html?/sotcaa/pythonpages/python_press_1990_99.html

"Gilliam: The BBC censored something on repeats, the 'Black Spot'
thing. [In an animated section in the second series, a handsome young
prince discovers a spot on his face. 'Foolishly he ignored it,' says a
female narrator, 'and three years later he died of cancer.' In later
broadcasts, the word 'cancer' was replaced with 'gangrene', spoken
by a male.] It's extraordinary that the word 'cancer' was so frightening
to them that they had to cut the word out."

So strange, I could have sworn the word syphilis was used in
that line.
Albert Sims
2006-10-19 20:31:22 UTC
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Post by EDM
Post by Albert Sims
Post by EDM
I have some off-the-air recordings of MPFC episodes, and in one
of the animated bits ("Rampage of the Cancerous Black Spot"),
Michael Palin tells a story of an enchanted prince who finds a
black spot on his face. Now in my recording the line goes,
"Foolishly, he ignored it...and three years later he died of
syphilis", but in every rerun I've seen of that episode the word
syphilis is overdubbed (rather obviously) with either "cancer", or,
in one
case, "gangrene".
Anyone know the history of this edit? Was the word syphilis
considered too risque by British censors at the time?
First time I've heard "syphilis" being used. In the original
airing, Carol Cleveland is narrating the story, and says "cancer".
In later years, a male voice is dubbed in JUST over the word
"cancer", that says "gangrene". Not sure why the change, unless the
group was just being sensitive to Graham's throat cancer...
http://web.ukonline.co.uk/sotcaa/sotcaa_python.html?/sotcaa/pythonpages/python_press_1990_99.html
"Gilliam: The BBC censored something on repeats, the 'Black Spot'
thing. [In an animated section in the second series, a handsome young
prince discovers a spot on his face. 'Foolishly he ignored it,' says a
female narrator, 'and three years later he died of cancer.' In later
broadcasts, the word 'cancer' was replaced with 'gangrene', spoken
by a male.] It's extraordinary that the word 'cancer' was so
frightening
to them that they had to cut the word out."
So strange, I could have sworn the word syphilis was used in
that line.
I have an audiocassette of the episode in question I recorded from PBS in
the late 1970's. The word "cancer" was there back then. In the DVD box set
released by A & E, they use the "gangrene" edit.
--
Albert Sims
West Monroe,Louisiana
Nullibicity
2006-10-24 03:36:03 UTC
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Post by Albert Sims
Post by EDM
Post by Albert Sims
Post by EDM
I have some off-the-air recordings of MPFC episodes, and in one
of the animated bits ("Rampage of the Cancerous Black Spot"),
Michael Palin tells a story of an enchanted prince who finds a
black spot on his face. Now in my recording the line goes,
"Foolishly, he ignored it...and three years later he died of
syphilis", but in every rerun I've seen of that episode the word
syphilis is overdubbed (rather obviously) with either "cancer", or,
in one
case, "gangrene".
Anyone know the history of this edit? Was the word syphilis
considered too risque by British censors at the time?
First time I've heard "syphilis" being used. In the original
airing, Carol Cleveland is narrating the story, and says "cancer".
In later years, a male voice is dubbed in JUST over the word
"cancer", that says "gangrene". Not sure why the change, unless the
group was just being sensitive to Graham's throat cancer...
http://web.ukonline.co.uk/sotcaa/sotcaa_python.html?/sotcaa/pythonpages/pyth
on_press_1990_99.html
"Gilliam: The BBC censored something on repeats, the 'Black Spot'
thing. [In an animated section in the second series, a handsome young
prince discovers a spot on his face. 'Foolishly he ignored it,' says a
female narrator, 'and three years later he died of cancer.' In later
broadcasts, the word 'cancer' was replaced with 'gangrene', spoken
by a male.] It's extraordinary that the word 'cancer' was so
frightening
to them that they had to cut the word out."
So strange, I could have sworn the word syphilis was used in
that line.
I have an audiocassette of the episode in question I recorded from PBS in
the late 1970's. The word "cancer" was there back then. In the DVD box set
released by A & E, they use the "gangrene" edit.
I don't think I've ever heard the cancer version. Actually, I think the
gangrene version is better, both because the edit is so blatant (I first
thought it was supposed to be like that) and "gangrene" is a funnier
word than "cancer."
--
Nullibicity
http://www.nullibicity.com/
P
2007-01-26 14:49:59 UTC
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Post by Nullibicity
I don't think I've ever heard the cancer version. Actually, I think the
gangrene version is better, both because the edit is so blatant (I first
thought it was supposed to be like that) and "gangrene" is a funnier
word than "cancer."
The "cancer" version has most certainly been aired and is possibly part of
one of the Python stage shows, German episodes, or something - I can't
definitively recall, but I know I've heard it. Coincidentally, it's Graham
who overdubbed the word "cancer" with "gangrene" on television. When I
first saw the episode in the late '70s I assumed the overdubbing was a good
old "nudge nudge" joke in the best British tradition and that in fact the
foolish man HAD died of syphillis, gonhorrea or something similar.

The powers that be (were?) at the BBC were very nervous about many aspects
of Python and flailed the censorship quill many times. Examples of this are
outlined in Robert Hewison's brilliant book "Monty Python: The Case
Against". On this particular occasion, as I recall, someone in upper
management deemed that the concept of cancer was too serious to be heard
uttered in a comedy. The reason the Python's used the word in the first
place was simply a matter of - why SHOULDN'T we put it in? After all, these
were 6 young men whose very existence in the public eye was built on a
degree of subversion.

There is only one recorded case of self-censorship by the Pythons
themselves. It was a Terry Gilliam cartoon filmed for an early episode, in
which a telephone linesman is seen hammering away at a telegraph pole...
which, as we zoom out, we see is really one of the three crosses of Calvary.
Given what the boys achieved later on with Life Of Brian it's rather amazing
that they, particularly Cleese, were so nervous about this cartoon. But
there we are.
Pimpleboy
2007-01-29 00:06:40 UTC
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Methinks that the CANCER version of that sketch is shown in the 1971 film,
"And Now For Something Completely Different". I'll gladly eat my cat if
I'm mistaken.
P
2007-01-29 02:07:41 UTC
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Post by Pimpleboy
Methinks that the CANCER version of that sketch is shown in the 1971 film,
"And Now For Something Completely Different". I'll gladly eat my cat if
I'm mistaken.
You could well be right. This is one Python work I rarely revisit - the
whole thing was a mistake.

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