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Monty Python Friday, 1 October, 1999, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Life after Python
Monty Python's Flying Circus spawned much more than unforgettable comedy - it also brought six separate performers into the limelight, each of which were to make their own individual impact in the years ahead.


John Cleese's popularity continued during the 1970s with his role as stressed hotelier Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers. Roles in British comedy films such as Privates On Parade and Clockwise followed, before the worldwide success of A Fish Called Wanda in 1988.

Other projects have included his 1980s party political broadcasts for the SDP, and two self-help books with psychoanalyst Robin Skynner, while his company Video Arts has made business training videos.

Life of Python
Not all of Cleese's projects have been successes - Wanda's sequel Fierce Creatures flopped and a series of advertisements for Sainsbury's supermarket featuring him as a Basil Fawlty-esque manager proved a turn-off for viewers.

But his appeal to film-makers and audiences remains strong. Now 59, he will be back in cinemas soon as James Bond's gadget man R in The World Is Not Enough.


Like Cleese, Michael Palin has also become one of the UK's most respected film and TV personalities. In 1977 he teamed up with Terry Jones to make comedy series Ripping Yarns.

After a role in John Cleese's A Fish Called Wanda his career took a new turn. BBC TV's Around The World in 80 Days saw him attempt to follow in the footsteps of the fictional character Phileas Fogg, by trying to travel around the world without flying.

The acclaimed BBC series led to more globe-trotting follow-ups such as Pole To Pole, Full Circle, and his latest project, Michael Palin's Hemingway Adventures.

The 56-year-old also starred in Alan Bleasdale's Channel 4 drama GBH, and in 1997 dedicated fans would have seen him take a cameo role as a surfer in the Australian soap opera Home And Away.


Eric Idle's career has prospered away from the Python limelight. In 1975 he teamed up with Neil Innes to create Rutland Weekend Television, a parody of regional broadcasting.

The pair also worked together on The Rutles. After starring in Graham Chapman's Yellowbeard, he has appeared in a number of films, including 1990's Nuns On the Run alongside Robbie Coltrane. He also starred in Disney's Honey, I Shrunk The Audience and the poorly-received Splitting Heirs.

His latest novel, The Road To Mars is about two comedians in the 22nd century. "I wanted to write about the present state of showbiz by using the future for perspective, " he explained.

He has also written a number of songs, including the theme to the BBC sitcom One Foot In The Grave. The 56-year-old is also appearing in the US comedy Suddenly Susan as Brooke Shields' boss.

Earlier this year he voiced a role in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut as Mr Vosknocker.


Terry Jones kept rare films and tapes of his Python days and used them in a one-man show, An Evening With Mr Creosote.

But comedy was to become just one aspect of Jones' career. A keen historian, he has written about Chaucer and presented documentaries, including one on the Crusades.

He has also written children's books, including a spin-off from his 1989 film, Erik The Viking, which starred Tim Robbins, Mickey Rooney and Eartha Kitt.

He also directed the film Personal Services, co-wrote Consuming Passions with Michael Palin and in 1996 directed Palin, John Cleese and Eric Idle in Wind In The Willows. Earlier this year the 57-year-old took a part in French director Albert Dupontel's film Le Createur.


Terry Gilliam's distinctive animations provided the Monty Python team with a visual trademark. He made his solo debut as film director with the 1977 medieval fantasy Jabberwocky, starring Michael Palin. His Hollywood stature increased further with Time Bandits, the tale of a young boy who can travel through the ages.

In 1985, Brazil led to a row with Universal Studios chairman Sid Sheinberg, who wanted the film dramatically re-edited for the US market.

While the film was shown worldwide thanks to a separate deal with Fox, Universal refused to release Gilliam's cut in the US until critics saw it at a series of clandestine showings, and the acclaim it received forced Universal to put it out on a limited release.

Further success followed with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, starring Eric Idle, and The Fisher King, starring Robin Williams. Most recently the 58-year-old directed Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, based on Hunter S Thompson's book, starring Johnny Depp as the inventor of "gonzo" journalism.


Graham Chapman spent much of the 1970s with the other Pythons, working on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian and other projects.

His alcoholism damaged his relations with the other Pythons, but by 1978 he overcame his habit to write, produced and star in the film The Odd Job, which also featured David Jason and Diana Quick.

During the 1980s he lectured and performed to audiences across the US, and in 1983 made his pirate movie, Yellowbeard, with a host of big names from both the US and UK including John Cleese and Eric Idle, Marty Feldman, Peter Cook, James Mason and Spike Milligan.

In 1988 he made a pilot for a CBS sci-fi series, Jake's Journey. It was never shown. In June that year, he was diagnosed with cancer, and spent much of his time in hospital.

He discharged himself to film a 20th anniversary special in September 1989, but died on 4 October 1989 aged 48 - a day before the anniversary.

Links to more Monty Python stories are at the foot of the page.


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