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Friday, 27 October, 2000, 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK
Python joins Potter cast
John Cleese
John Cleese: Set to play friend of Harry Potter
Ex-Monty Python John Cleese is to join the cast of the Harry Potter film.

Cleese, who celebrates his 61st birthday on Friday, has signed on to portray Nearly-Headless Nick in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which is shooting on location in the UK.

A spokesman for John Cleese told BBC News Online: "It's all confirmed. John is joining the cast in March next year."

Also known as Sir Nicholas De Mimsy-Porpington, Nick is the ghost of Gryffindor Tower and an ally of the schoolboy hero.

He gained his nickname after one of the book's characters failed to behead him.

Cleese made history earlier this year by appearing in the first major film produced exclusively for the internet.

Eagerly awaited

The actor starred in Quantum Project, which cost $3m (1.9m) to make and lasted just 32 minutes.

In a recent poll one of Cleese's former films, The Life of Brian, was voted the funniest film ever made.

The Harry Potter movie is one of the most eagerly-awaited children's films ever to be announced.

The film is expected to be released in the US in November 2001 and is being directed by Christopher Columbus.

Eleven-year-old Daniel Radcliffe, who appeared in the BBC's David Copperfiled, won the coveted role of Harry after a nationwide search.

Potter author JK Rowling insisted that the actor to play Harry had to be British.

J K Rowling said: "Having seen Dan Radcliffe screen test, I don't think Chris Columbus could have found a better Harry."

Cleese is currently working on a factual series, The Human Face, for the BBC.

See also:

16 Oct 00 | Entertainment
'Pay row' over Potter stars
21 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Young Daniel gets Potter part
05 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Fawlty Towers tops TV hits
09 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Hurley and Cleese make faces
15 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Fawlty Towers gets German makeover
05 May 00 | Entertainment
Cleese makes internet history
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