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Monday, March 9, 1998 Published at 15:47 GMT


And now for something completely different (and plenty that isn't)


As John Cleese would have said, wearing a tuxedo and sitting behind a desk in a field full of cows: "And now for something completely different."

John Cleese tells BBC Radio Four's Today programme what the Pythons have planned (1' 06")
The surviving members of the legendary Monty Python's Flying Circus comedy team are set to return to the stage after years of silence - and no end of pestering by their fans.

The team are planning a show for autumn 1999, the 30th anniversary of the television series which has a cult following around the world. There'll be new material - and plenty that isn't: the team are expected to perform some of their most famous sketches as long as they aren't too old to manage them.

[ image: Cleese: project will be a
Cleese: project will be a "resounding failure"
John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam made the announcement while performing a tribute in Aspen, USA, to their former colleague Graham Chapman, who died in 1989.

They said the time was right to get back to the stage - even though one of their number warned in pythonesque fashion that the venture will be a complete disaster.

Monty Python became a controversial hit for the BBC when it was shown between 1969 and 1974.

But for every complaint that their sketches were offensive, there was praise that they had revolutionised comedy.

John Cleese, who has had a successful acting career since the Pythons split up in 1983, said he was looking forward to the new shows.

"We only manage to get together in the same room about twice a year," he said.

"But there was a lot of enthusiasm to do something next year for the 30th anniversary. Everyone thought that doing a new version of the stage show will be a lot of fun."

The team will put together a show which will possibly open in London and then move to New York.

[ image: Monty Python satirised everything - including spam and vikings]
Monty Python satirised everything - including spam and vikings
Fans will want to see famous sketches, such as the dead parrot, the Lumberjack song and the inept Spanish Inquisition held up by London buses. But the team are considering writing new material.

John Cleese said: "We will have to see if we can still do it, I guess energy is the main problem.

"I confidently expect this to be a resounding failure."

The Monty Python team went on to make six films, including the controversial Life of Brian - which was criticised as blasphemous.

During the Aspen show, the team came on stage carrying what was supposed to be an urn containing the ashes of former colleague Chapman.

What started as a tribute to Chapman turned into a performance when the five knocked over the urn and scrambled over each other to vacuum up their friend.

Later, Palin chatted with the urn, chiding Chapman to keep quiet.

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