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The case of European integration
Matt Qvortrup

citizen participation (e.g. through referendums or initiatives). The provision for referendums in constitutions is positively correlated with knowledge about politics. Conclusion What did the Romans ever do for us? Quite a bit if we are to believe the Monty Python film The Life of Brian. But Michael Palin, John Cleese and the other Pythons forgot to mention one thing; the citizens’ right to veto legislation. It is fitting, therefore, that we still use a Latin word for this activity: referendum. In the seventeenth century a Latin tract, Historica Rhaetica, informed the

in Direct democracy
Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and the cultification of light entertainment
Leon Hunt

Bob Mortimer. According to Bruce Dessau, Vic Reeves Big Night Out marked ‘a watershed in TV comedy history’ (1999: 125). Such claims have not just emerged in hindsight, as they perhaps did for Monty Python (sharing with Reeves and Mortimer’s earlier work a significance not necessarily evident in their ratings). Indeed, such claims were being made even before the first episode had been broadcast. In the first move towards positioning comedy as ‘the new rock’n’roll’, New Musical Express proclaimed the coming of Vic and Bob with a zeal usually reserved for rock’s ‘next

in Cult British TV comedy
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Lancelot du lac
Keith Reader

1997 : 56). The Arthurian legends have been a staple of Western European culture from the thirteenth century through to modern times (Cocteau’s play Les Chevaliers de la table ronde or indeed Monty Python and the Holy Grail), but their status as, precisely, legend means that it is impossible to situate them chronologically. Jean-Pierre Jeancolas frequently uses the term ‘contemporain vague’ (‘vaguely contemporary’) to

in Robert Bresson
Jane Roscoe and Craig Hight

language is always presented soberly, drawing especially upon scientific rhetoric, but at the same time the connections which are made between characters and the nature of their VUE suffering is very much within the Monty Python tradition. There is here the same delight in the rhythms of nonsense language presented as coherent rationality (using the BBC model of factual presentation). The difference is that, unlike Monty

in Faking it
Jo George

’s 1982 adaptation of Richard Wagner’s Parsifal (itself drawn from the poem Parzifal by Wolfram von Eschenbach), and British films such as Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and John Boorman’s Excalibur (1981). As Umberto Eco has demonstrated, the reasons these film-makers, like so many artists working in other media, have been drawn to the Middle Ages vary greatly and range from nostalgia for a mythical past, to feelings of nationalism, to ironic revisitations. 41 More often than not, however, these

in British art cinema
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A writer’s guide to the Romans
Carey Fleiner

Romans – everything from Catholic Mass to lessons at school to Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the ‘Romans go home’ scene – but the Romans weren’t Latin originally; linguistically and culturally, they were Etruscan. The Romans began to identify with the Latin tribes only when they broke away from Etruscan rule – fighting with, conquering, and then allying with the Latin League in the fifth century BCE , a conglomeration of local tribes and city-states unified in protection originally against the Romans. As the Romans encountered each

in A writer’s guide to Ancient Rome
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‘You’ve gotta laugh’
Tony Whitehead

content (as in the Carry On or Monty Python films). The tension between real and unreal can also operate on a deeper thematic level: in farce comedy, where the recognisability of the characters and their plight is necessary to anchor the situation as events get ever more wildly out of control; or in slapstick, which depends on laughter at extravagant comic violence coupled with an awareness that it is all make-believe and the ‘victim’ is not really hurt at all. The classic double act of straight man and clown is also predicated on the conflict between the realism of the

in Mike Leigh
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Evan Smith and Matthew Worley

about British political and labour history,6 we hope this volume demonstrates that we cannot ignore the far left; and while some might disregard such groups, parties and tendencies as obscure or on the fringes of the discipline, we argue that their histories reveal wider insights into the functions of the Labour Party, the role that social movements have played in recent history, 10 Waiting for the revolution and the potential impact of far-left ideas beyond the small groups parodied repeatedly in mediocre Monty Python-esque routines over the last thirty

in Waiting for the revolution
From ‘cringe’ to ‘dark’ comedy
Leon Hunt

fix your TV, particularly when they can claim that it isn’t their job to do so, are the stuff of the comedy sketch (or at least were about twenty years ago) – this is less contentious in its subject matter than some of Jam’s more notorious items. It’s also possible to imagine a Monty Python sketch about lizards in someone’s television that plays to the surreal silliness of the idea – Python could be ‘sick’ and even gross, but they tended not to go dark or particularly menacing, although Eldon’s impotent rage is very much their territory. Heap’s performance is a

in Cult British TV comedy
From bad taste to gross-out
John Mundy and Glyn White

treasured perceptions, with rules, conventions and taboos, but there are occasions when the engagement causes offence, even if no offence was intended. Sometimes the response can be extreme in nature. Considerable controversy surrounded Monty Python’s film Life of Brian (1979) in which a young Jewish man is mistaken for the Messiah. Accused of blasphemy by numerous religious groups, Life of Brian was banned

in Laughing matters