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Wednesday, 20 December, 2000, 10:41 GMT
Cleese makes faces in prison
John Cleese
John Cleese writes and presents The Human Face
Former Monty Python John Cleese has visited inmates at a high security prison in India as part of a BBC documentary about the human face.

Around 80 prisoners, many of them awaiting trial for murder, clapped, pulled faces and laughed in the first "laughter programme" at Central Jail, in Bombay.

"We all feel so much better when we laugh. It breaks down barriers between people," said Cleese.

"You can connect with them and language does not matter at all," he added.

Madan Kataria, the founder-president of the Laughter Club International, took prisoners through a range of laugh exercises, among them the "stretched metre" laugh, the "ferocious lion" laugh and the "mobile phone" laugh.

'Negative emotions'

He said: "People in jail suffer from depression, insomnia and have a lot of anger and resentment inside.

"Laughter removes negative emotions and helps them relax."

Cleese added: "It would be very interesting to do something like this but I don't know if I can get the English to join in."

The four-part BBC documentary will be shown early next year.

The programme, called The Human Face, will be presented and written by Cleese.

The programme will look at the evolution of faces, different shapes and features, as well as exploring ideas of beauty and cosmetic surgery.

The actor is due to appear in the forthcoming Harry Potter film, based on the successful children's books, playing Nearly-Headless Nick, a friend of the eponymous young wizard.

See also:

22 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Python's lost play gets world premiere
05 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Fawlty Towers tops TV hits
27 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Python joins Potter cast
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