Out of the Trees

Out of the Trees

Out of the Trees is a 1975 television sketch show pilot written by Graham Chapman, Douglas Adams and Bernard McKenna that was broadcast on BBC 2 in 1976. The show shared some of the stream-of-consciousness style of Monty Python's Flying Circus, of which Chapman was a member. Actors included Mark Wing-Davey and Simon Jones.

The concept of the show was, according to Chapman, to follow the exploits of two modern-day linguists who would travel around a Britain gripped in rapid decline. The linguists would comment upon the origins of a word or phrase, which would then be the genesis of a sketch. Although two scripts were written (the second a collaboration between Chapman and David Yallop), only one episode was ever filmed. It was broadcast only once by the BBC, with little promotion, at 10pm on Saturday 10 January 1976 opposite Match of the Day, and so was seen by relatively few people.

The videotape recording of the show has since been wiped, as used to be common for archived BBC shows, due to the relatively high cost of videotape at the time. The film segments shot in outdoor locations survive, and consist of a sketch titled "Severance of a Peony", and some inserts intended for an item about Genghis Khan. The former was included on the DVD for Adams's 1981 TV series adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and also appeared, rewritten as an anecdote, in Chapman's book A Liar's Autobiography. Rewrites of the Ghengis Khan sketch appeared in some editions of Adams's posthumous work The Salmon of Doubt as the short story "The Private Life of Genghis Khan".

It was reported in 2005, by a representative posting on the forum at the archive television website The Mausoleum Club, that a videotape made by Chapman on an obsolete format had been handed to the National Film Television and Videotape Archive. This was restored and shown at the National Film Theatre on Saturday, 2 December 2006 as part of the Missing Believed Wiped event.


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