OCTOBER 5, 1969: The groundbreaking comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus debuts on BBC. Mixing highbrow cultural references with slapstick in a consistently irreverent and often surreal fashion, and with little regard for the conventions of television or sketch comedy, the troupe of six Oxford and Cambridge graduates (and one American, who provided the show’s signature animated sequences) built on the absurdist tradition of Spike Milligan and “The Goon Show,” lampooning wide swaths of British culture and politics as well as the BBC itself. Running through 1974, the show gained an American audience via re-runs on public television, and the troupe went on to produce a series of successful feature films.