Saturday 17 March 2018

Dead parrot and pythons fly again

Monty Python members Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Jones
Monty Python members Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Jones
Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman and Michael Palin

Adam Sherwin

Idle once joked: 'We would only do a reunion if Chapman came back from the dead.'

It's the reunion that John Cleese once dismissed as "absolutely impossible". But hatchets have been buried and grudges set aside as the surviving members of the ground-breaking comedy troupe confirmed that the Monty Python circus will fly once again.

Following months of secret talks, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin will announce their plans at a London press conference tomorrow. The reunion, expected to involve a stage show and a television special, is the first time the remaining members have worked together on a full-length project since 'The Meaning Of Life' film in 1983.

The death of Graham Chapman in 1989 was previously thought to have ended any hopes that their hugely influential brand of absurdist humour could be recreated.

Previous attempts to engineer a reunion tour, usually driven by Idle (70) creator of the £100m-grossing 'Spamalot' musical, have fallen foul of squabbles over business issues. Cleese (74) said even sitting the Pythons down in one room was a geographical impossibility.

Jones (71) told the BBC: "We're getting together and putting on a show – it's real. I'm quite excited about it. I hope it makes us a lot of money. I hope to be able to pay off my mortgage!"

A world tour, re-enacting Python's "greatest hits" such as the famous Dead Parrot sketch, would prove hugely lucrative.

The Pythons hinted that they could revisit previously unreleased sketches. Palin (70) said: "There was much more material written for 'The Meaning of Life' and not used – probably as much as three times as much."

Cleese added: "Maybe we should do a 'Meaning of Life 2'?"

Palin and Jones have recently re-filmed lost material from their 1969 ITV sketch show 'The Complete And Utter History Of Britain', which helped form the Flying Circus template, for a DVD release next spring.

Fans will hope that the long-awaited reunion was prompted by a desire to create fresh mirth worthy of their legacy, rather than financial motivations.

Earlier this year, members were ordered to pay extra royalties to Mark Forstater, a producer of 'Monty Python and The Holy Grail', who won a High Court case over 'Spam-alot' profits. This year, Cleese sold off his art collection and completed an Alimony live tour to help pay for his divorce from his third wife.

The five remaining members almost agreed to a 1999 US tour but Palin pulled out at the last minute. "At which point Eric became very cross," recalled Cleese, who also disappointed Idle when he decided not to take part in a 'Holy Grail' sequel. Idle once joked: "We would only do a reunion if Chapman came back from the dead. So we're negotiating with his agent."

The first episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus was broadcast on October 5, 1969. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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