Eric Idle: No plans to revive Monty Python for 50th anniversary

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Eric Idle has no plans to revive Monty Python for next year’s 50th anniversary of the show – describing the group’s reunion in 2014 as their “goodbye”.

The surviving members of Monty Python – John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Idle – last performed in a series of stage shows in 2014 to meet the costs of losing a court case to the producer of the Holy Grail film.

Next year sees the anniversary of the first series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus debuting on BBC.

The crew of Monty Python’s Flying Circus
The crew of Monty Python’s Flying Circus (left to right) Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin (PA)

“It was fun to do that because we hadn’t done it for 30 years, because the last time we performed was the Hollywood Bowl,” Idle said.

“It was a classy way to say goodbye. It’s not often you get a chance to do a farewell and say thank you very much.

“It was just in time because Jonesy is going memory wise. It was touching and a nice thing to do.”

Idle was speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival to promote his new book, Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life: A Sortabiography, which chronicles his career in comedy, television, theatre and film.

Idle, who now lives in the US, explained what inspired him to write the book.

“Next year is the 50th anniversary of Monty Python and I knew we were going to be asked a lot of questions so I thought I would write it and see what sort of book it turns out to be,” he said.

“It was an interesting experience and writing about your own life is quite a nice philosophical thing to do when you get to my age.

“And when you get to my age the thing you don’t have to do is take your shoes off on American planes.

“I say at the beginning of the book I wanted to write it before I started to suffer from hamnesia, which is what you get from being an old actor.

“I wanted it to be funny, sometimes it is serious and sometimes it is sad, and on the whole, always look on the bright side.”

Monty Python
The surviving members of Monty Python last performed in a series of stage shows in 2014 (left to right) Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones (Philip Toscano/PA)

“We wrote sketches and got together and read them out. If we laughed they went in the show and if we didn’t laugh we sold them to the Two Ronnies,” he said.

“If Michael Palin was reading a sketch out, Terry Jones would be laughing all the way through, whereas I had to read it out to four blank faces.”

Despite writing the book, the 75-year-old does not have plans to stop just yet and is working on a film based on his hit Broadway musical Spamalot.

“I quite thought this would be my last thing, and I said to the wife, ‘That’s it, can I stop now please?’ and she said yes, but she was lying,” he joked.

“I don’t think I am going to stop writing because I like the activity.

“I like not doing anything too, and I love going to France and reading for months on end. I read history, I read novels.”

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