spanish inquisition

The Spanish Inquisition (Monty Python)

"The Spanish Inquisition" was a series of sketches in Monty Python's Flying Circus, Series 2 Episode 2 parodying the real life Spanish Inquisition. This episode was itself entitled "The Spanish Inquisition". The principal catchphrase in these sketches was "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!"

Plot synopsis

This was a recurring sketch always predicated on an unrelated sketch in which one character, expressing irritation at being questioned by another, would announce "I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!" At this point the Inquisition—consisting of Cardinals Ximénez (Michael Palin), Biggles (Terry Jones), and Fang (Terry Gilliam)—would burst into the room at the sound of a jarring chord. Ximénez would shout, with a particular and high-pitched emphasis on the first syllable, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!"

After entering, the Inquisition frequently got bogged down in recitations of their weapons ("Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms!"). Ximénez would state the number of weapons they had ("Our two/three/four weapons are..."), then list one more than he had counted, then start again using a higher number. After several attempts, Ximénez would state, "I'll come in again...", and herd The Inquisition back off the set. The straight man would then deliver the cue line again, the Inquisition would burst back in (complete with jarring chord), and the introduction tried again. This was repeated two or three times before Ximénez gave up and moved on.

Ximénez repeatedly ran into the problem of not being able to reliably torture anyone. When he called for "the rack," Cardinal Biggles produced a dish-drying rack. When poking the victim with soft cushions produced no confession, Ximénez would inquire whether his assistants had gotten all the stuffing together into one end of the cushions, for supposed maximum effectiveness. Failing that, forcing the victim to sit in the "comfy chair" was tried.

At the very end of the show, in "Court Charades", they are caught by surprise when a defendant (who is also a judge from another court) in session at the Old Bailey says "I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition". The whole court rises and looks expectantly at the witness entrance door (obviously expecting the Spanish Inquisition). As the closing credits roll the Inquisitors race to the Old Bailey by bus, to the tune of Devil's Gallop, only to arrive just as the words "THE END" appear. Ximénez has just enough time to say "Nobody expects the Spa...oh, bugger!" before the episode ends. "Bugger" was a strong word for a BBC comedy show at the time, and some BBC regions omitted it from the broadcast.

Cardinal Ximénez briefly appears two episodes later in a vox pop, again displaying difficulty counting. Shortly afterwards, during the Police Constable Pan Am Sketch , when the cop told the chemist to stop bugging him or he'll be tried for heresy, the chemist says "I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition," but he is simply told to shut up by Pan Am, without any logically expected appearance from the Inquisition.


  • In the "Not The Nine O'Clock News" sketch on the new film "The Life of Christ" (itself a reference to Python's 1979 "Life of Brian"), the Bishop (played by Rowan Atkinson) who is being harangued for this parody of Pythonism professes himself surprised at the furore, saying, "Well, I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition."
  • Similarly in the 1998 film "Sliding Doors", James (John Hannah) exhorts Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow) to "remember what the Monty Python boys say.", correcting her "bright side" assumption to "nobody . . .".
  • It was referred to in the September 13, 2008 Get Fuzzy when Satchel was parodying lines said by Michael Palin when the discussion between Rob and Bucky was about Sarah Palin - to which Satchel replied in the last panel "Nobody expects the Alaskan politician!".

External links

Search another word or see spanish inquisitionon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature