Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Piranha Brothers Were for Real

I am a big fan of Monty Python's Flying Circus (and I can quote large portions of many skits). One of the more famous Python segments is about the notorious Piranha Brothers -- a pair of outrageously violent criminal, given to such excesses as nailing people's heads to the floor.

I had always thought that Doug and Dinsdale Piranha were just another figment of the Pythons' extremely fertile imaginations, but I have just learned that they were based on very real (and only slightly less violent) London criminals of that era -- the Kray Twins.

Ronnie and Reggie Kray had just been sent to prison for life shortly before the episode first appeared in 1970 (judicious timing on the Pythons' part, since the twins were sensitive to criticism).

You may remember that Dinsdale was thoroughly batty, believing himself pursued by a giant hedgehog named Spiny Norman. This is presumably based on Ronnie Kray's mental problems; while perhaps not quite as crazy as Dinsdale, he was at least twice diagnosed as being paranoid schizophrenic.

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