I thought you might like to know that I've been doing some research on this.
I recently went to the National Library of Wales and discovered some old newspaper articles which suggest that, contrary to the recent reports, The Life of Brian was cleared for viewing in public cinemas in Ceredigion as long ago as 1981 !!!
The NLW, by yet more serendipity, is based in Aberystwyth and I happen to have a reader's ticket. All the old editions of our local newspaper, The Cambrian News
, are there stored on microfilm.
The reports are to be found in the South Edition of the Cambrian News
- this is the version that covers our area and all date to 1981. Here are the details:
February 13th (a Friday!!), 1981 - Life of Brian makes mockery of the Bible says councillor
This report reveals the The Life of Brian
was to be previewed by a sub committee of five councillors in the Pavilion cinema in Cardigan (does this still exist?) because the proprietor, a Mr. F. C. Fry, had requested to show the film. However, one local councillor wanted to ban the film without even seeing it first. He described Life of Brian
in the following terms:
It's a quite despicable film and goes against my own principles and upbringing. It would undoubtedly have a corrupting influence on the young people of this district.
He goes on to say how he met a young man who had broken "nearly every bone in his body" after he had sleep-walked through a bedroom window having watched The Exorcist
in Carmarthen. In relation to this he says:
If this is the type of affect these films have on young people, we should turn this one [i.e. Life of Brian] down here and now and not bother to go and see it.
How he makes the link between The Exorcist
and The Life of Brian
is way beyond me.
The next report appeared the following month:
March 6th, 1981 - Five Wise Men pass Brian for the public
The title says it all really. The "five wise men" were a sub-committee of councillors, whose names were:
O. M. Owen, J. E. Evans, Rev. I. Evans, R. J. Evans, and W. A. Jenkins.
Judging from the photo, none of them could be described as young, and one of them was a vicar. In spite of this, they actually PASSED
Life of Brian for viewing in Ceredigion. Here is part of the press release:
The Sub-Committee therefore decided after very careful deliberation, that although
they personally had found parts of the film quite unacceptable, they did not feel that they
could depart from the normal practice of allowing films with certificates of the British
Board to be shown.
They therefore decided to allow "The Life of Brian" to be shown in Ceredigion. [my emphasis added].
The next edition of the Cambrian News
ran an advert for the Commodore Cinema which indicates that Monty Python's Life of Brian ran for six days from Monday, March 16th. It was shown - perfectly legally
- twice nightly on Wednesday and Saturday and once only on other days.
So there you have it, a genuine scoop, and you heard it first on the BSD forum. Please feel free to spread the word.
Edited by I.P. 14.09.08 - expanded bit on the man who watched the Exorcist in Carmarthen