Monty Python's Eric Idle 'still working at 80 for financial reasons' as he hits out at former co-star Terry Gilliam

12 February 2024, 19:32 | Updated: 12 February 2024, 21:34

Monty Python star and Spamalot creator Eric Idle has revealed he still has to work at the age of 80 due to financial reasons
Monty Python star and Spamalot creator Eric Idle has revealed he still has to work at the age of 80 due to financial reasons. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

Monty Python star and Spamalot creator Eric Idle has revealed he still has to work at the age of 80 due to financial reasons.

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Idle, known for his roles Sir Robin the-not-quite-so-brave-as-Sir-Lancelot in Monty Python And The Holy Grail, and the upbeat crucifee who kicked off the 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' sing-along at the end of Life of Brian, said he sold his home last year and branded the comedy group a "disaster".

In a series of post on X responding to commenters, Idle said: "I don't know why people always assume we're loaded. Python is a disaster.

"Spamalot made money 20 years ago. I have to work for my living. Not easy at this age."

Idle's play Spamalot - adapted from the 2005 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail - debuted on Broadway in 2005 and won the Tony Award for best musical.

A film adaptation was announced as in pre-production in 2021, but Idle later revealed it would not be made after two of his former co-stars vetoed the project.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Graham Chapman, left, and Eric Idle, right
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Graham Chapman, left, and Eric Idle, right. Picture: Alamy

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Idle thanked his followers for their "kind words and encouragement" and said "it means a great deal to me,"

The comedian said he was surprised by the downturn in Monty Python's financial success.

"We own everything we ever made in Python and I never dreamed that at this age the income streams would tail off so disastrously," Idle wrote.

"But I guess if you put a ­[Terry] Gilliam child in as your manager, you should not be so surprised. One Gilliam is bad enough; two can take out any ­company.”

Fellow Python star Terry Gilliam's daughter Holly is a lawyer specialising in film and television and became Monty Python's manager in 2014 and was a producer on the legendary group's 2014 reunion show which sold out at London's O2 arena.

When asked if a Netflix documentary could help with his finances, he said "f*** documentaries" and the streaming giant.

Monty Python's Life of Brian, starring Eric Idle in 1979
Monty Python's Life of Brian, starring Eric Idle in 1979. Picture: Alamy

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Despite revealing his financial woes, Idle said: "I'm fine. I'm engaged and writing. It's the thing I do and like the most. Creating a new show. Something that feels so completely normal. Been doing it since 1963. I have learned a lot. But then I had some great mentors."

It comes after Idle revealed in September 2022 that he had overcome pancreatic cancer following a rare early diagnosis.

Idle appeared in celebrity mystery singing show The Masked Singer in the US in 2022, and voiced the character Merlin in 2007's Shrek the Third.

Alongside Graham Chapman, Fawlty Towers star John Cleese, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas director Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and travel writer Sir Michael Palin, Idle founded the comedy troupe in 1969.

Chapman died in 1989 of tonsil cancer aged 48 and Jones died in 2020 aged 77 from a rare form of dementia.

The remaining members of the legendary comedy troop reformed briefly in 2014 for Monty Python Live (Mostly).

In 2013, a producer of the 1975 film Monty Python And The Holy Grail won a High Court royalty fight with the comedy team to get some of the Spamalot profits.

It comes after Idle's former co-star John Cleese said he had written a stage adaptation of classic TV sitcom Fawlty Towers which will premiere on London's West End - almost 50 years after the first episode was recorded at the BBC.

Cleese, who co-wrote and starred in the original sitcom, has written a two-hour play based on two episodes from the first series - The Hotel Inspector and The Germans - and the second series episode Communication Problems.

The production will debut at London's Apollo Theatre on May 15, nearly five decades after the first episode was filmed at the BBC Television Centre in December 1974.

Fawlty Towers follows the unfortunate exploits of highly-strung Torquay hotelier Basil Fawlty (Cleese) and his wife Sybil, played by Prunella Scales, as they try to keep their hotel and marriage afloat.

Tickets for the show will go on sale on Wednesday February 7 at 10am.

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