Behind the Madness: Graham Chapman’s Last Ride with Iron Maiden

Julian Doyle, a British filmmaker who collaborated with Monty Python, directs Iron Maiden’s video for “Can I Play With Madness”. Doyle approached Graham Chapman for the role, blending the worlds of British comedy and heavy metal in a unique way.

Key Takeaways
  • Graham Chapman starred in Iron Maiden’s 1988 video for “Can I Play With Madness,” making one of his final appearances.
  • Directed by Julian Doyle, the video featured Chapman as a surreal art teacher.
  • Filming took place at Tintern Abbey in Wales and Chislehurst Caves in London.

Graham Chapman, a cornerstone of British comedy thanks to his role in Monty Python, made one of his final appearances in Iron Maiden’s 1988 music video for “Can I Play With Madness”. The song is no slouch, serving as the lead single from the band’s critically acclaimed concept album, “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son”. This album is often considered one of Iron Maiden’s best works, diving deep into themes of prophecy, fate, and mysticism.

In the video, Chapman took on the role of an art teacher who finds himself in a bizarre, otherworldly expedition. His character falls through a hole in the ground, winds up in a mysterious cave filled with arcane symbols, and finally finds himself entombed in a freezer. This cocktail of surrealism and dark humor was quintessential Chapman, a nod to his comedic genius.

This cocktail of surrealism and dark humor was quintessential Chapman, a nod to his comedic genius.

The man behind the camera was Julian Doyle, a seasoned British filmmaker with a history of working on Monty Python projects. He was also the visionary for Kate Bush‘s iconic “Cloudbusting” video. Doyle didn’t just randomly select Chapman for the gig; the two had a professional rapport. According to Doyle, Chapman had a soft spot for pop and rock music and was even buddies with The Who‘s legendary drummer, Keith Moon. While it’s not confirmed whether Iron Maiden was on Chapman’s playlist, his affinity for rock music made him a fitting choice for the role.

The music video’s haunting backdrops were carefully chosen, with filming taking place in two locations. The initial scenes were shot at Tintern Abbey in Wales, a location known for its gothic ruins and mystical aura. The adventure then moved underground to Chislehurst Caves in south London. Iron Maiden themselves only made a cameo in the video, missing the chance to cross paths with Chapman during filming, much to the disappointment of fans who yearn for such legendary crossovers.

As for Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden’s charismatic frontman, he got his Monty Python meet-and-greet at a later date. In a 2009 interview, Dickinson candidly expressed his adoration for Monty Python’s work, admitting that their comedy was woven into his “childhood DNA”. This shared appreciation for humor and theatrics makes the collaboration between Iron Maiden and a Monty Python legend like Chapman not just a fun trivia fact, but a match made in rock and comedy heaven.