Kilimanjaro Expedition

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Kilimanjaro Expedition is a sketch from the episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus "The Ant, an Introduction", also appearing in the Monty Python film And Now For Something Completely Different. It has been compared to a comic episode in Franz Kafka's The Castle in which the protagonist, K., is confused by twins assigned to assist him.[1]


Arthur Wilson (Eric Idle), a young mountaineer, visits the office of Sir George Head, OBE (John Cleese), who is leading an expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro. Head's problem, though, is that he has a bad case of diplopia, and indeed, he believes there are two Wilsons when he enters the office. He must cover his right eye to confirm Wilson's claim that there's only one of him. Head begins filling in Wilson's application, although he repeatedly asks both Wilson and the empty chair next to him the same question.[2]

Head then fills him in on the expedition: he and his team plan to climb both peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro. Wilson claims there's only one, and Head must consult a topographical map of Africa with one eye to confirm the claim. Head then explains the expedition is to find any remnants of last year's expedition, led by his brother. The team was trying to build a bridge between the two peaks, which was naturally Head's idea. Wilson then gives his qualifications. When he describes himself as a mountaineer, Head must look the word up in a dictionary. Due to his affliction, he reads the definition aloud as "two men skilled in climbing mountains."

Wilson then learns Head also thinks there are two of himself as well. Head explains the team's route to Kilimanjaro, which mostly consists of a way from Surrey to Rottingdean, with a giant leap from Rottingdean to Nairobi (Head's map of Britain cuts off there, and is overlying his map of Africa), down to Tanzania, and then asking from there. All the while Head describes everything in plural, i.e. "Rottingdeans", "main roads near Pirbrights" (in the movie And Now for Something Completely Different the other route is mentioned, starting in Manchesters and going down through Oxfords, Londons and Purleys to Dovers, and from there to Nairobis and so on). Wilson inquires about the rest of the team; there are five other members (Head of course thinking each are two brothers (or four brothers in one case, a 'pair of identical twins')). None are mountaineers and none but one speaks Swahili. When Wilson asks Head if anyone else speaks Swahili, Head replies: 'I think most of them do down there.'

However, their guide, Jimmy Blenkinsop (Graham Chapman, who in real life was an avid mountaineer), has worked out a route. He comes to the office, reassures Wilson about Head's double vision, and then shows the route rather physically, acting it out in the office and knocking over numerous items and a bookshelf before breaking through the door, still describing the plan. Wilson is now fed up, and leaves the expedition for his lack of confidence. The suddenly visible "other" Arthur Wilson tells "both" clearly visible George Heads that he's "still game" for the trip.


  1. Bartram, Graham (2004). The Cambridge companion to the modern German novel. Cambridge University Press. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-521-48392-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Alan Parker, Mick O'Shea (2006). And Now for Something Completely Digital. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-932857-31-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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