October 05, 2023

#ThrowbackThursday – 5 October

It’s Throwback Thursday time again, folks! Today, we’re looking at three events that went down in history on 5 October – from a women’s march to British pop culture, let’s get into it!

1789 – Hell Hath No Fury Like Women Revolutionised

For hundreds of years, the Kingdom of France had been governed by the Ancien Régime, a political system which favoured the monarchy, nobility and clergy, while the commoners (serfs and peasants) suffered its most brutal effects: famine, poverty, costly taxes and so on.

That all changed on 14 July 1789 when the French population rose up against the Régime by storming the Bastille in Paris, thus sparking off the French Revolution. Over two months later, another riot took place in Paris – one led by the women.

A group of market women, armed to the teeth with pikes, pitchforks, kitchen knives and muskets, and drenched by the rain, marched from Paris to Versailles, where the luxurious palace of King Louis XVI was located. Their numbers grew to over 7 000 individuals, including men, as they set out to protest against the high prices and scarcity of bread, as well as to demand reforms.

Storming the Palace of Versailles, they fought back against the defence of the palace guards. In and among the violence incurred, they demanded that Louis XVI and the rest of the family come back with them to Paris. The king acquiesced; the next day, the royals – part of a procession consisting of guardsmen, politicians and, of course, the protesters – were taken to Paris, where they would now reside in the less glamorous Tuileries Palace.

From then on, Louis XVI’s powers were no longer absolute: most of his powers fell to the National Assembly, who for the next two years would busy themselves by drafting a constitution for a new regime, one that would see the fall of Louis XVI and the rise of political firebrands such as Maximilian Robespierre and Camille Desmoulins.

But for now, the ladies of Paris achieved their goal with their march: helping to bring down the Ancien Régime.

1962 – “Bond … James Bond”

Sixty-one years ago, Britain’s finest (fictional) spy made his film debut, and his name was Bond … James Bond.

The first instalment in the “James Bond” film franchise – based on the spy novels by author Ian Fleming – opened in theatres on 5 October 1962. Played by the then-unknown Scottish actor Sean Connery, James Bond, AKA Agent 007, must stop the evil machinations of the nefarious scientist Dr Julius No, who plans to disrupt the American space programme.

Bond’s mission takes him to Jamaica, where he also has a run-in with the criminal organisation SPECTRE, all the while getting up to all sorts of hijinks that sees him showing off his fighting prowess and debonair charms as he woos one Honey Ryder (who has the honour of being the first “Bond girl”, although she’s not Bond’s first conquest in this flick!).

“Dr No” not only marks the debut of one the most famous spies in history, but it also introduced the world to to the iconic theme song (accompanied by the famous “gun barrel” opening sequence) and a whole host of memorable lines such as “That’s a Smith & Wesson, and you’ve had your six”, “I prefer a ‘53 myself” and, of course, “Bond … James Bond”.

With an estimated budget of $1.1 million, “Dr No” raked in the big bucks at the office, making $59 567 035.

Connery went on to make six more Bond films before officially passing on the mantle to Roger Moore (actors David Niven and George Lazenby also tried their hand at being 007, but it was really Moore who cemented himself as Connery’s successor). Since then, there have been over 20 films starring 007, with the most recent portrayal being Daniel Craig.

1969 – And Now For Something Completely Different

The landscape of BBC1 took a surreal turn for the absurd when “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” made its debut on 5 October 1969.

Created and written by the Monty Python comedy troupe – made up of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam – the first episode, “Whither Canada?”, is as bizarre as it is hilarious: the series of sketches presented include the famous deaths sequence, the artists’ cycling race, the Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson segment and, most memorable of all, the “Funniest Joke in the World” sketch, in which a joke renders anyone dead from laughter.

Many of these sketches were linked together by Gilliams’ cut-out-and-cartoon animated segues, including one promoting the fictional “Whizzo Butter” (which, by the way, is absolutely indistinguishable from a dead crab).

For audiences in the studio and at home, it was probably a wild and weird ride from start to finish, and probably very different from the usual TV fare, but the best (and equally bizarre) was still to come in the next four series!

“Monty Python’s Flying Circus” has certainly cemented itself in pop culture and is considered an example of classic British television (or absolute rubbish, depending on who you ask). It has since spawned a multitude of multimedia: feature films, books, stage shows, music albums, games … the whole shebang!

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