Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Friends reunited: Monty Python crew get together after 40 years

Actor John Cleese attends the IFC and BAFTA premiere of "Monty Python: Almost The Truth (The Lawyers Cut)", in New York
From left, actors Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle attend the IFC and BAFTA premiere of "Monty Python: Almost The Truth (The Lawyers Cut)", in New York
From left, actors Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle attend the IFC and BAFTA premiere of "Monty Python: Almost The Truth (The Lawyers Cut)", in New York

The Monty Python crew was reunited on stage in New York today, 40 years after their unique brand of humour first hit TV screens.

John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin exchanged banter and reminisced over their time during the event in which they were honoured with a BAFTA Special Award.

Graham Chapman did not allow a small thing such as being dead stop him from taking part. A cardboard cut-out of the comedian, who died in 1989, took a seat alongside his fellow Pythons.

He even took a question or two from the audience at Manhattan's Ziegfield Theatre. That was until Cleese abruptly ejected him from the stage in favour of Carol Cleveland, Python's regular female contributor.

The official reason for the reunion was a special showing of a new documentary chronicling the life of Python.

Six hours of footage and interviews forms Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) due to be aired in six instalments from October 18, coinciding with the team's 40th anniversary.

After an abridged version was shown to an enthusiastic audience, the surviving members, plus the cardboard Chapman took to the stage to answer an array of questions from fans.

As Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Jones and Palin rifled through the cards handed to them, suspicions were soon raised that they were not taking proceedings entirely seriously.

Indeed when Cleese asked a second question that called into question Michael Palin's career choices it was clear that the Pythons were determined to replace legitimate questions with good-humoured jokes at each other's expense.

Gilliam read a card that reportedly asked: "Why isn't John funny anymore?" with Palin quickly chipping in: "I was just trying out my pen."

But the light-hearted jibes were as close as we got to a display of the tensions that have reportedly existed within the group.

All five appeared relaxed in each other's company during the event and in comments on the red carpet before the showing said they were happy to be together again.

Aside from the new documentary, the Pythons had gathered to receive a BAFTA Special Award for outstanding Contribution to Film and TV.

As they did so, they received a stranding ovation from an audience that braved the wind and rain of an unseasonably cold New York night to observe an increasingly rare comedic moment - a Monty Python reunion.

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