Monday 11 December 2017

Ruth Dudley Edwards: Pythons bring the dead parrot back to life with plans for London live show

Money seems to be the motivation for Monty Python reforming after 30 years, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

EARLY DAYS: Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, John Cleese and Michael Palin
EARLY DAYS: Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, John Cleese and Michael Palin
MONTY PYTHON PLANS TO FLY AGAIN: From left, Pythons Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, 'glamour stooge' Carol Cleveland, Terry Gilliam and John Cleese announce their new plans for Monty Python at the Corinthia Hotel in London last week, minus the late Graham Chapman
Ruth Dudley Edwards

Ruth Dudley Edwards

I was at a grand party a few years ago when John Cleese joined us on the dance-floor. It was a fancy-dress event, he was wearing a toga, and I instinctively expected him to begin doing thumbs-down gestures or barking orders about massacring babies. Trying not to look was like averting one's eyes from Stonehenge. The guy is a national monument.

Cleese was at the centre of the most memorable sketches of Monty Python's Flying Circus (Dead Parrot, Silly Walks). And who can forget from The Life of Brian the marvellous sequence when Reg, the self-important leader of the People's Front of Judea who reminds us of idealogues everywhere, was being driven into a corner by unhelpful answers to his rhetorical questions? "All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health... what have the Romans ever done for us?" Cleese was also a creator and star of Fawlty Towers, which may well be watched long after the Pythons are forgotten.

Cleese is in the news because Monty Python is reforming after 30 years for a London live show. There were photographs from the news conference of wrinkly Pythons striking silly attitudes, making jibes at each other's expense and producing famous Python one-liners, as when asked questions by a Spanish journalist, Michael Palin (who has reinvented himself triumphantly as a TV traveller) said: "We didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition."

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