Friday, June 15, 2012

Monty Python's "The Piranha Brothers, Part 1" (1970)


A searing look at gang crime in 70's Britain. This segment of BBC's "Ethel the Frog" documentary team spotlights the notorious Dinsdale and Doug Piranha Gang, the two guys who made the Krays and Al Capone look like boy scouts.

As far as I know Spiny Norman was never captured and Luton Airport is still out of service.

Part two of the documentary is here:


  1. I used to have the album with this on it.

  2. It's one album worth having I'd say, Cal.

    I think it's their best long sketch.

  3. Scroll down to where it says "Song Lyrics" and this was one of my favorite short sketches.

  4. I lost the album in a flood along with all of my other 500+ albums. What was most heartbreaking was the loss of the 50s 45s and a few... darn, I can't remember the speed, but records from the 20s and 30s.

  5. That's great. "Gumby Theatre" always delivered the finest in drama. ;-)

  6. Yes, that's awful. I lost a lot of albums when a washer overflowed in the garage and I was dumb enough to store some in a basket prior to a move I was making. I still have a few that were saved, excluding, alas, one of The Pythons at City Center in New York City. I think it was mid'70s on their first tour over here.

  7. I've found a few 78s at Garage sales. Otherwise they are scarce. A lot of great jazz from that period worth listening to If one is into that stuff. Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives and Sevens, Jelly Roll Morton and other bands.

  8. Of course Doug hedgehog tails are not at all impressive. I have even met people who would like to deny hedgehogs have a tail at all, which of course they do have, but only very small ones. The distance therefore from the snout to the tail of a hedgehog is not a true reflection of the creatures actual dimensions since lower back spines may actually in some particular positions anyway, stick out further than the hedgehog's tail. This is not an uncommon occurrence and should not be left out any calculation of a hedgehog's length, after all who wants to be caught cheating in the hedgehog size does count competition when its on TV for all to see? Not me Doug.

  9. What made them unrecoverable was that mud washed into the jackets and scratched them beyond any reasonable use. I should probably say sludge since the refineries overflowed into the ditch behind my house. It made me wish I had never moved so close to my job.

  10. LOL...I see I had not fully calibrated the real dimensions of a hedgehog, AA.

    We lack hedgehogs in this corner of the former British Empire (Hudson Bay Company, Ltd, Edition) so one without proper zoological training must fall back on what has been presented for him or her by the demented imaginations of a television animator. Terry Gilliam might have never actually SEEN a hedgehog, much less one who was a rogue criminal.

    Just what is the body positioning of the hedgehog when measured? Too late, I now see the true relevant question!

    Lacking any notion of Spiny Norman the Hedgehog's true size, AA, I must concur the rodent's position in organized crime in 1970s London and connections to the Household Cavalry may have been exaggerated...comic effect being the true culprit and a gullible overseas market, unaware of hedgehog anatomy.

    Thanks again AA for bringing light to yet another BBC-Light Entertainment Division charade.

  11. Short of fire, refinery sludge has to be the worst it can get on an album. The worst thing for me was not discovering the water and chemical soap damage on the collection because it was in a closet and that allowed more time for warping and mildew to set in. A true bummer.

  12. More disinformation from the BBC Doug....I'm not a bit surprised. The Spiny Norman PSYOP was used in the 70s as a pretext for The Third Cod War and there are those that say he never really existed at all.
    Others claim Spiny Norman was the nom de plume of Kingsley Amis who's novel The Green Hedgehog is a thinly veiled account of Spiny Neville (who of course did exist) and was the mascot of the Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons) at the time.
    It was revealed in the deathbed confession of Sonic the Hedgehog that Spiny Neville was indeed a double agent passing secrets to the Icelandic branch of the KFC whilst working as the Queen's own slug guard in the grounds of Buck 'ouse.

    Thank you for posting this excellent documentary Doug, it is a story that needs telling right enough, a disgraceful chapter in a long history of infamy. Was it him who's famous last words were 'Infamy...Infamy ...they've all got in-for-me' or was that someone else? Its been a long time since we did that at school.

  13. Worryingly, the organised crime situation in the UK has not noticeably improved since this documentary first aird.

    Super stuff. It's great how "sillyness" never goes out of fashion.

  14. I called my low-level contact at CIA, AA, an old school chum who can "neither confirm nor deny" the wanker still owes me $59.78 from a private bet on the outcome of the 1985 Super Bowl Game.

    He confirmed that there is a full course devoted to the "BBC/Spiny Norman" case. It's a requirement for all black ops spooks and Counter Intel personnel at their special "finishing school" lair at Langley, Virginia.

    (It's amazing what one can learn about the spy game as a GS-3 grade cafeteria worker.)

    Interesting that you happen to bring up Kingsley Amis' novel. I have not read that one as yet, but I did just finish John La Carre's latest book, "The Spy Who Came in With the Cod". Spiny Neville is referenced several times in the novel as George Smiley is brought out of retirement (again!) to find the Reykjavik Center mole operating in the Ministry of Fisheries. (Hint: The mole has a bright bed beard, is keen on volcanic activity and geo-thermal heating , and eats fried chicken take-out at lunch. )

    I always enjoy the way LaCarre weaves real and fictitious characters into his narratives. He is "a loony perhaps, but a happy loony."

    Thanks for adding to the blog, AA. Infamy does reign whenever good men are more focused on shadow games than the real dirty deeds. I always think studying the past is the key to learning about...well, something.

  15. A sad commentary on international police procedures in the entire English and Icelandic speaking world, Oakie.

    I don't know what prompted me to remember this sketch, but I'm happy to see so many people remember it fondly as well.

  16. It is great to think back to the quaint old days when the likes of The Krays were deemed by some as "loveable rogues" rather than psychopathically dysfunctional.

  17. Yes, the same was said of some American "dysfunctionals" like John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde.

    Who knew back then that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was likely almost as dysfunctional as anybody on his organization's celebrated Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List?

    Superintendant Harry "Snapper" Organs--now THERE was a lawman. He once trailed a desperate suspect through the Panama Canal in 1970 disguised as the Earl of Glouster from "King Lear". *

    After those rave reviews, he captured the horrible-but-really-dense American assassin-fugitive Billy "Mack" McCoy at Gatwick Airport while disquised as Ratty from "The Wind in the Willows." *


    * Another Python skit.

  18. As soon as one sees John Cleese looking back at you from the screen, one knows one is in for a treat! Thanks Doug, I enjoyed this.

  19. Very well put, Iri Ani. Thank you.