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The Piranha Brothers, Doug and Dinsdale, were a pair of London gangsters who were the subject of the Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch of the same name.
Doug and Dinsdale were born, on probation, to Arthur Piranha and Kitty Malone, a scrap metal dealer and champion boxer respectively. The violent nature of the two brothers was obvious at an early age, and Dinsdale in particular took to "putting the boot in" (kicking people) as soon as he was able to walk. This escalated at school, and resulted in them being rejected for army service, as they were deemed too insane even for the military. As a result, the duo turned to crime, and formed a gang which they called "The Gang."
Dinsdale was the more actively involved in running The Gang and oversaw most of their day-to-day operations, which mostly involved extorting bars, nightclubs and casinos, often with the aid of nuclear weaponry, and with their local chief constable on their side. Dinsdale would also violently punish anyone who failed to comply, with his favoured method being nailing their heads to the floor; for variety, he would also nail coffee tables to people's heads, or screw cakestands to their pelvises. Despite all this, Dinsdale was widely admired and held in high regard by his victims, who often refused to admit what he had done to them even when it was glaringly obvious.
While Dinsdale may have been the more active of the two brothers, Doug was the more feared, due to his skills in using sarcasm to devastating effect on people that even Dinsdale might have a hard time breaking. A fellow criminal, Luigi Vercoti remarked that he had "seen grown men pull their own heads off rather than face Doug."
By February 1966, the brothers completely controlled the criminal underworld of London and South-East England. Their ultimate undoing proved to be Dinsdale's seemingly paranoid fear of Spiny Norman, a gigantic (between 12 ft and 800 yards long depending on Dinsdale's mood) hedgehog who he was convinced was stalking him. Dinsdale eventually came to the conclusion that Norman slept in an aircraft hangar at Luton Airport, and tried to eliminate the hedgehog by detonating a nuclear weapon there. This caused the police to come after the brothers with full force, and the duo were eventually arrested by Harry "Snapper" Organs, a policeman and occasional actor.
The Piranha Brothers were subsequently put on trial, found guilty and each sentenced to 400 years imprisonment. They quickly escape from prison however, causing the very real Spiny Norman to come looking for Dinsdale.
- Doug and Dinsdale never actually appear on-camera, and are only represented through a stock photograph. The sketch takes the format of a current affairs show named "Ethel the Frog," which contains interviews with those involved with the criminal careers of the brothers.
- The Piranha Brothers were based on the real-life Kray Twins, who similarly controlled the criminal underworld of London in the 1960s, and despite their violent reputation were often respected by Londoners. They were eventually arrested by Detective Superintendant Leonard "Nipper" Read and given life sentences in prison, albeit for the rather more mundane crime of murdering fellow gangster Jack McVitie.