Loved iconic se­ries

50TH AN­NIVER­SARY CLOSE

Shepparton News - - SNNEWS - By Han­nah Stephen­son

It re­mains one of the most iconic com­edy se­ries of our time, spawn­ing films, books, records and tours — and even now as it nears its 50th an­niver­sary next year, Monty Python is as loved as ever.

Co­in­cid­ing with the mile­stone, found­ing mem­ber Eric Idle, 75, has writ­ten his ‘sortabi­og­ra­phy’, Al­ways Look On the Bright Side Of Life, which charts some of his rec­ol­lec­tions of the se­ries and its spin-offs.

Mr Idle, John Cleese and Gra­ham Chap­man worked to­gether at the Cam­bridge Foot­lights (Cam­bridge Univer­sity’s now fa­mous dra­mat­ics club), later meet­ing their Ox­ford Re­vue ri­vals Terry Jones and Michael Palin at the Ed­in­burgh Fes­ti­val.

Terry Gil­liam, whose an­i­ma­tions would form a stream-of-con­scious­ness f low to be­come the ba­sis for Monty Python, was in­tro­duced to the gang after Mr Cleese met him in New York when on tour with the Foot­lights Re­vue.

Did they think Python was go­ing to be some­thing big?

‘‘Ab­so­lutely not. It was just a lit­tle late night show we were all do­ing, but which we were for­tu­nate enough to have to­tal con­trol of. We weren’t told what to do or stopped from do­ing any­thing,’’ Mr Idle said.

‘‘We sud­denly had the op­por­tu­nity to do a show ex­actly how we wanted to do it. That en­cour­aged us to make it some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent.’’

They were given more free­dom as the show started life as a late-night slot the BBC wanted to fill.

‘‘There were fewer ex­ec­u­tives, who are, of course, the death of com­edy. We had worked on light en­ter­tain­ment shows but didn’t feel we be­longed in that slot,’’ Idle said.

‘‘Terry Gil­liam made a tremen­dous dif­fer­ence be­cause he was able to put that Vic­to­rian an­i­mated frame­work around it, which gave it a stamp look which other shows didn’t have.

‘‘The sketches ap­peared to be con­nected by this odd sur­re­al­is­tic frame­work.

‘‘Python wasn’t a pop­u­lar show at first. We re­ally an­noyed peo­ple. Mid­dle-class ladies would say, ‘Monty Python’ we hate you lot’. It was much more ef­fec­tively in­sult­ing, rude and nas­tier than this cud­dly group it now ap­pears to be. Con­tin­ued page 21

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