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on 2 September 2003
Much to my regret, for some odd reason, I don't think I have ever seen a "truly complete" version of any one of these wonderful performances...
When these shows came out on VHS, I found several very annoying differences in regard to the length and 'completeness' of the shows. The PAL videos contained bits and sketches that did not appear on the NTSC videos, entitled under the same name, and vice versa. (This was the case with all of the shows).
Now, finally (!), these shows are available on DVD!!! - and still, I found some missing bits. For instance: Billy Connolly's 'Country & Western' sketch from "The Secret Policeman's Ball" does not appear here. (And the funny thing is, that you can even see his name on the credits...), another missing bit is Lenny Henry's wonderful monologue as Trever Netelford with his 'inquiring mind' (- missing from "The Secret Policeman's Biggest Ball") and there are a couple of others... - and these are things that you can get on the videos (and again, it depends on which ones you buy...).
Why can't we ever get a full and complete version of these shows??? Why??? Why??? Why???
Another thing - and this will end my short chain of complaints -If they're going to make a special "Best-of Music Edition" (- which I think is rather silly - because there's nothing "new". You've already got all those musical numbers on the other DVDs in the set - and all you need to do it to skip chapters), why not make a "Best-of Comedy Edition" as well? - for the people who are more interested in the comedy side of these shows?
But, all nitpicking aside, this a really fabulous collection! The transfer may seem not-very-good, but I think that concidering the horrific origional masters, the transfer is fantastic!!
So it's missing a couple of funny bits... big-deal... - It has plenty of other great sketches and comedy routines, as well as all the best British-music hits from the 70s and 80s.

This set contains the show, which I believe should be in the house of anyone who conciders himself to be a Monty Python fan, that has a version of the Parrot Sketch where you can see Michael Palin being very 'naughty', giggling and trying to keep a stight face... absolutely hilarious!!!.. It's as though Palin and Cleese are virtually trying to 'break' each other...
Another favorite of mine is the Peter Cook's fabulous "Memories of a Miner"... and there are plenty of other wonderful enjoyable materail from one of the best periods of British comedy...
All in all, this is a very highly recomended set and it's worth the money.
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on 13 August 2003
... at least it was much more than I expected. I only knew about the three shows called 'Ball', 'Other Ball' and 'Third Ball', so I expected a 2 or 3 DVD including these. Boy I was wrong. In my mail a 4 DVD set appeared earlier today, and while I haven't watched everything yet I have browsed some of the known highlights (i.e. the Monty Python and Rowan Atkinson stuff ;) and can just say: I loved every minute of it. The four DVD's include all 7 of Amnesty International's charity shows in London from 1976 to 1991 plus a special compilation of the best music. The complete list is:
1a:Pleasure at her Majesty's (1976)
1b:Mermaid Frolics (1977)
2a:The Secret Policeman's Ball (1979)
2b:The Secret Policeman's Other Ball (1981)
3a:The Secret Policeman's Third Ball (1987)
3b:The Secret Policeman's Biggest Ball (1989)
4a:Amnesty International's Big 30 - Special Edition (1991)
4b:The Secret Policeman's Balls (Music Edition)
I have rated this 4 stars, because the transfer is not very good, and partly that can be contributed to bad masters. With a little more work this could have become a great package. Still, it's a fine display of the best british comedy of the 70s and 80s and I doubt that there is any other compilation of the same quality of comedy anywhere.
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on 24 September 2009
now dont get me wrong, i like this dvd but there are bits missing.
i used to own the VHS set but my jvc recorder chewed one of the casettes up so i got rid of it, this vhs set had a few more acts featured on it and was edited differently (so as to fit it all on the tapes i assume).
billy connolly was one of the missing acts, which is a shame as he was very funny at TSPB, he can be seen on the stage at the end of the 1981 show (right in the middle next to john cleese).

now to whats featured :

Pleasure At Her Majestys - 1976 ~ features : John Cleese, Michael Palin, Peter cook, Dame Edna, Alan Bennett, Tim Brooke Taylor, John Fortune, Graham Chapman, John Bird, Eleanor Bron, Carol Cleveland, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Neil Innes, Bill Oddie, Johnathan Miller.

Mermaid Frollics - 1977 ~ features : Peter Ustinov, John Cleese, Peter Cook, Connie Booth, Terry Jones, Julie Covington, Johnathan Miller, Pete Atkin, Des Jones.

The Secret Policemans Ball - 1979 ~ features : Peter Cook, John Cleese, Clive James, Pete Townshend, Rowan Atkinson, Michael Palin, John Williams, Sylvester Mccoy, Ken Campbell, David Rappaport, Terry Jones, Tom Robinson.

The Secret Policemans Other Ball - 1981 ~ features : Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Alexie Sayle, Sting, John Wells (as Denis Thatcher), Phil Collins, Dame Edna, Jasper Carrot, Eric Clapton, Victoria Wood, Boomtown Rats, Michael Palin

The Secret Policemans Third Ball - 1987 ~ features : Ruby Wax, Spitting Image, Kate Bush, Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie, Lenny Henry, Joan Armatrading, Mark Knopfler, Bob Geldof, Nick Kershaw, Robbie Coltrane, Phil Cool,
Duran Duran, John Cleese, Chet Atkins, Emo Phillips, Lou Reed, Ben Elton, Peter Gabriel.

The Secret Policemans Biggest Ball - 1989 ~ features : Michael Palin, John Cleese, Lenny Henry, Spitting Image, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore, Kathy Burke, Dawn French, Ade Edmonson, Hugh Laurie & Stephen Fry, Robbie Coltrane, Jennifer Saunders, John Williams, Ben Elton.

Amnesty Internationals Big 30 (Special Edition) - 1991 ~ features : Alexie Sayle, Johnathan Ross, Tom Jones, Spitting Image, Mel Smith & Gryff Rhys Jones, Morrissey, Andrew Strong, Mike Mcshane, Dawn French & Jennifer Saunders, Have I Got News For You, Mark Little, Jason Donovan, Trev & Simon, E M F, Jools Holland & Paula Yates, Rick Astley, Punt and Dennis, Seal, Spinal Tap, Phil Cornwell & Steve Coogan, Dave Gilmour, Dave Stewart, Emo Phillips, Lisa Stansfield, John Major, Frank Skinner, Daryll Hall, Julian Clary.

The Secret Policemans Ball - Music Edition (a selection of the music from the shows)

Remember The Secret Policemans Ball - Documentary (im sure this was an episode of "Arena" on the bbc)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 July 2007
This wonderful boxed set of the charity comedy concerts from 1976 through to 1991 contains some of the best live comedy/satire ever produced. Everybody will have their favourites, but two or three standout for me.

The four Yorkshire sketch is a masterpiece. Somehow I had never heard the Python original prior to seeing this version. So this remains my favourite. "Our Dad used to slice us in two with bread knife"... etc etc.
However best of all is Peter Cook. We are so lucky that he performed at these shows and in particular that his marvellous skit on the Judges summing up of the Jeremy Thorpe (the then leader of the Liberal Party) related trial is captured on film as well as in sound - "I would like to pay a personal tribute to Mr Thropes husband Miriam...."

Another excellent sketch that Cook contributes to is the one with John Cleese on the park bench. Cook has minutes of tedious dialogue (from his character E L Whisty) during which Cleese is trying to read the paper and getting more and more irratated with Cook. In fact at one point Cleese almost loses it and laughs. In the end Cooks dialogue is rewarded with a classic Cleese rant to which Cook replies "How very interesting!".

Rowan Atkinson makes a number of memorable appearances as previous reviewers have pointed out and many other well known comedians contribute ably to the whole proceedings.

The music DVD is a mixed bag, but there are some great moments. The rarity of seeing Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck performing on stage together on 'Further on up the Road' and Pete Townsend performing 'Pinball Wizard' solo being the highlights for me.

The boxed set is well packaged on four discs and the total running time is 581 mins (9 hours and 41 minutes), so you get a lot for your money.
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on 22 September 2005
Classic humour and music. The best rendition of the parrot sketch there is. Rowan Atkinson's school register. The one legged tarzan sketch and many more. Also some lesser known but just as funny acts such as Sylvestor McCoy, Chris Langham and an excellent mime artist. Well worth the dosh
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on 24 December 2009
Just too many funny sketches to mention. If you buy this DVD you will have your favourites that you watch again and again. English humour at it's finest.
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on 10 December 2015
Was rather hoping the makers included some of the iconic musicians, most of whom had the talent to be in a "Hall of Fame", included in this reprise!
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on 4 August 2011
A collection of "The Secret Of the Policeman's Ball" with the cream of British comedians, acts and stand up of the late 70's to early 80's. The Goodies, Barry Humphrey's (Australian contribution), Monty Pythons crew, Rowan Atkinson and John Cleese to name a few.
Some classic performances and recreations of some of the artist's familiar work that still holds up today.
If you're after a good laugh, get a hold of this collection!
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on 13 June 2016
Very funny
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on 6 December 2014
Love it
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