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Terry Jones 'still here, not gone', says Monty Python co-star Eric Idle

Published 01/12/2016

Terry Jones has been diagnosed with dementia
Terry Jones has been diagnosed with dementia

Terry Jones "hasn't forgotten who he is" as he battles dementia, his Monty Python co-star Eric Idle has said.

Jones, 74, is suffering from primary progressive aphasia, a form of dementia that affects his ability to communicate.

But Idle told Radio Times that the illness is tougher for the people close to Jones than it is for the star himself.

"It doesn't seem to me that he's unhappy," he said.

"I think it's harder for people around them than for the person themselves."

Idle said Jones "hasn't forgotten who he is, yet", adding: "It hasn't got to that point. Terry's still here, he's not gone."

The comedian said he and the other remaining surviving members of the comedy troupe - John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin - have known about Jones' illness for some time.

He said he was happy that they managed to do their live shows at the O2 in 2014 "while we could still get him through it".

"We said, 'look, Terry, don't worry, we're going to get you through this. We're all in this together. You're not to blame'," he said.

"It's like people who have bipolar disorder or something, it's not their fault.

"These are genes and things that have got into our systems and we are now at the mercy of them."

Idle, 73, saw Jones a few months ago and also spent time with him in New York last year.

He said: "He was on stage there, but he was having trouble stringing sentences together and it was becoming noticeable - so I'm glad they came out with it and acknowledged his illness in public."

Jones directed Monty Python's Life Of Brian and Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life, and co-directed Monty Python And The Holy Grail with Gilliam.

His diagnosis was announced in September.

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