It may be a British screen classic, but it’s our neighbours across the channel we have to thank for bringing it to the stage. The premiere adaptation of Monty Python’s Flying Circus TV sketches now hits London tonight - in French. Monty Python's Flying Circus, which was a hit at the 2003 Edinburgh Fringe, opens tonight (Friday 28 January 2005, previews from 25 January) at west London’s Riverside Studios, where its limited season continues until 19 February.

Python’s team of writers - Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin – all gave exclusive performance rights to producer Remy Renoux for the “anarchic Gallic” take on their classic comedy sketches. Over the past two years, Monty Python's Flying Circus has toured extensively in France.

The original television series ran from 1969 to 1974, with the best sketches grouped together into a feature-length programme, And Now for Something Completely Different. The stage show – which is performed in French with English surtitles - features many of Python’s best-loved sketches, including “The Lumberjack Song”, “The Dead Parrot”, “Sit on My Face” and “The Incontinent Olympics”, in a cabaret-style evening.

In celebration of the stage version, Riverside Studios is hosting a complementary Monty Python season, which includes a special Q&A with former Python Michael Palin on 8 February and screenings of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, amongst others.

The Holy Grail, released in 1975, has also inspired a new stage adaptation, a musical written by former Python Eric Idle. Spamalot - which opened in Chicago last month and will open on Broadway on 17 March 2005 – is tipped for a future West End transfer (See The Goss, 20 Jul 2004). The US premiere production stars Briton Tim Curry as well as David Hyde Pierce (from TV’s Frasier) and Hank Azaria ( Award-nominated last year for his West End debut in Sexual Perversity in Chicago).

- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock