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PBS to air Monty Python specials

PBS will be the home for six new Monty Python specials this spring. Each special will focus on a member of the British comedy troupe, mixing new footage with clips from Python movies and the group’s television series.

American audiences first discovered Monty Python on public television after PBS obtained the rights to the sketch comedy series “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” from the BBC in the 1970s, said John Wilson, PBS’ senior vp and co-chief programming executive.

The new series, spotlighting Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones, will be called “Monty Python’s Personal Best” and is being produced by Python (Monty) Pictures Ltd.

Other new programs announced during PBS’ portion of the summer Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills included:

  • “African-American Lives,” a four-hour documentary series that traces black history through genealogy and DNA science. Set to premiere in February, the series profiles successful black Americans and traces their roots.
  • “Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Adventures,” six new hourlong programs from the son of the late Jacques Cousteau. Following the underwater trail blazed by his father 30 years ago, the new programs focus on exploration and conservation. Pierce Brosnan will narrate.
  • “Texas Ranch House,” the latest in the series of historical reality programs in which families live and work as people did at some point in the past. This eight-part series is set in 1867 Texas.