The Secret Policeman's Ball

The Secret Policeman's Ball is a series of benefit shows staged initially in the United Kingdom to raise funds for the human rights organisation Amnesty International. The shows started in 1976 featuring popular British comedians but later included leading musicians and actors. The Secret Policeman's Ball shows are credited by many prominent entertainers with having galvanised them to become involved with Amnesty and other social and political causes in succeeding years. Co-founded by Monty Python member John Cleese, campaigner Peter Luff (Assistant Director Amnesty International 1974–1978), and entertainment industry executive Martin Lewis, there have been four distinct eras of the Amnesty benefit shows. The shows of the first era (1976–1981), featuring five members of Monty Python and newcomers such as Rowan Atkinson, yielded films, television specials, home-videos, and albums that have since been widely seen and heard internationally. The three subsequent eras (1987–1989, 1991–2001 and 2006 onwards) have primarily featured locally popular British performers – and spin-off products have been released mainly in the UK. In March 2012, The Secret Policeman's Ball took place in the United States for the first time. The one-night show at New York's Radio City Music Hall on 4 March was part of Amnesty's 50th anniversary commemorations. In January 2013, the website for The Secret Policeman's Ball was set to redirect to Amnesty International's; its registration has since expired. However, in 2019, the show was adapted as The Secret Policeman's Tour, performing at Hackney Empire in London, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Manchester Palace Theatre.

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