Question: This is another two-parter. First of all, where did the name Monty Python's Flying Circus come from, and what's the real name of the theme song? A guy I work with says it's "Colonel Bogey's March." Thanks, man. Richie
Televisionary: No problem, mate.
The story of the Monty Python name is as tough to nail down and relate as many of the brilliant Python skits themselves. From what I can gather (and I'm sure I'll be buried in corrective mail from fans), the name started with BBC writer/producer Barry Took, who shepherded the show's creative forces (John Cleese, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle) through The Beeb's development process. Took was often called "Baron Von Took" around the office, and his developing, nameless show was dubbed "Baron Von Took's Flying Circus" (after the legendary Baron von Richtofen's infamous WWI fighter squadron).
As the naming process for the show got underway, numerous suggestions fell by the wayside, including Owl-Stretching Time, Whither Canada?, The Toad Elevating Moment and The Venus Di Milo Panic Show. The players decided to hang onto the "Flying Circus" part of the working title and made their way through Cynthia Fellatio's Flying Circus and Gwen Dibley's Flying Circus.
The names Norm Python and Bob Python were considered before, legend has it, Idle recalled a man who used to wander into his local pub and ask all the patrons if Monty had been in yet. Thus, the show was christened.
As for the second part of your question, the Python theme music is actually the great John Philip Sousa's "Liberty Bell March." Kenneth J. Alford's "Colonel Bogey's March" is the whistling piece popularized by the late Alec Guinness and the boys in the 1957 multiple Academy Award winner The Bridge on the River Kwai. The offbeat inspiration behind the name alone is probably a good indication of why the show was so wonderfully quirky, holding up as well today as it did when it first hit the U.S. in the mid-'70s. A brilliant combination of intelligence and outright stupidity, Python remains a triumph of TV comedy.