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In the Season 1 Episode 8 of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the Army Protection Racket sketch, two cliché Italian mafiosi are trying to blackmail the Colonel into giving them money:

[...] not a single armoured division will get done over for fifteen bob a week.

and then go down to

Twelve and six.

and then

Eight and six...

and finally

five bob.

What does this mean and what purchasing power would this be today?

A sketch video and episode script are available.

  • One of my favorite, shows the "shifted situation played as if it was normal" way of the Monty Pythons, and the usual first-season's "End the sketch with something else than a punchline" signature endings – Olivier Dulac Dec 11 '15 at 1:28
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Bob is another word for Shilling (s), which before decimalisation in 1971 was 1/20 of a Pound (£) and could be split into 12 pence (d).

The episode was filmed 25 November 1969.

From context it's clear that n and m stands for n Shilling and m Pence, so the 2014 values of the negotiated weekly sums are:

   1969    |  2014
-----------+--------
 £0 15s 0d | £11.02
 £0 12s 6d |  £9.19
 £0  8s 6d |  £6.25
 £0  5s 0d |  £3.68

Calculated with a simple purchasing power calculator.

This partially explain the Colonel's reaction:

No, no this is silly.

  • 1
    I think you may have misunderstood. When he says "this is silly", he's referring to the premise of the sketch. He's stepped out of character and is addressing the show writers (e.g. themselves) – user7812 Dec 10 '15 at 21:25
  • @richard: +1. to fully understand the "silly" remark, you also have to 1) watch several MP sketch 2) of course, here, see the whole situation as it is: the Monty Pythons often use the silliness of having a "common" situation placed in the wrong context (here, a common Movie tough couple of guys are trying to extort money from a not-so-frail victim, the army) Then every one of them plays it in full character, as if that reality made sense, like the Colonel at the first part of the sketch, unafraid and unimpressed, but still listening. Until he steps "out of it" and adress the authors(& viewers) – Olivier Dulac Dec 11 '15 at 1:22

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