John Cleese pays tribute to Python star Terry Jones, who's died aged 77

January 22, 2020

Monty Python star Terry Jones has died at the age of 77, his agent has said.

The Welsh actor was one of the six members of Monty Python - a group widely considered the "Beatles of comedy".

Jones' death was confirmed in a family statement, which said he had passed away on the evening of 21 January at his home in north London with his wife Anna Soderstrom by his side.

It said he had been fighting "a long, extremely brave but always good humoured battle with a rare form of dementia".

It was announced that he was suffering from the progressive disease in 2016. It primarily affected his ability to communicate.

He is said to have "gently slipped away" after spending the last few days in the constant company of his wife, children, extended family and many close friends.

The statement went on: "We have all lost a kind, funny, warm, creative and truly loving man whose uncompromising individuality, relentless intellect and extraordinary humour has given pleasure to countless millions across six decades.

"His work with Monty Python, his books, films, television programmes, poems and other work will live on forever, a fitting legacy to a true polymath."

His family thanked the nurses, doctors and carers who had helped Jones over the last few years, saying they had made life "not only bearable but often joyful".

They went on to say they hoped dementia would one day be "eradicated entirely".

During his lifetime, Jones and his wife helped to raise over £600,000 for Alzheimer's Research UK, in a bid to fund vital research.

The statement concluded by giving thanks "that we lived in the presence of an extraordinarily talented, playful and happy man living a truly authentic life, in his words 'Lovingly frosted with glucose'".

Jones became a household name thanks to Monty Python - a surreal comedy group which he created along with Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Michael Palin.

Jones is largely credited with coming up with the surreal structure of the show, which didn't comply to the normal joke set-up, premise and punch line formula.

Their TV sketch show - Monty Python's Flying Circus - first aired in 1969, running for four series and 45 episodes over five years.

Cleese tweeted: "Just heard about Terry J. It feels strange that a man of so many talents and such endless enthusiasm, should have faded so gently away...

"Of his many achievements, for me the greatest gift he gave us all was his direction of 'Life of Brian'. Perfection

Two down, four to go".

His tally is in reference to the remaining four members of Monty Python. Graham Chapman died of cancer in 1989.

Idle looked back to the first time he watched Jones on stage at the Edinburgh Festival in 1963, saying he "loved him" the moment he saw him.

The fellow Python went on: "So many laughs, moments of total hilarity onstage and off we have all shared with him. It's too sad if you knew him, but if you didn't you will always smile at the many wonderfully funny moments he gave us.

"Thank you all for your kind thoughts and messages of support for our dearly beloved brother Terry. It is a cruel and sad thing. But let's remember just what joy he brought to all of us."

Palin hailed Jones "one of my closest, most valued friends", calling him "kind, generous, supportive and passionate about living life to the full".

He went on to summarise Jones' many skills: "He was far more than one of the funniest writer-performers of his generation, he was the complete Renaissance comedian - writer, director, presenter, historian, brilliant children's author, and the warmest, most wonderful company you could wish to have.

"I feel very fortunate to have shared so much of my life with him."

Tributes also poured in from fellow comedians and performers, with many paying homage to Jones' numerous comedy skits.

Stephen Fry paid tribute on Twitter, referring to the irreverent animations which appeared throughout Monty Python's Flying Circus: "Farewell, Terry Jones. The great foot has come down to stamp on you. My god what pleasure you gave, what untrammelled joy and delight. What a wonderful talent, heart and mind".

Queen guitarist Brian May paid tribute to Jones on Instagram, calling him a "genius comedy star and wonderful guy", calling his life "a legacy to the world".

Comedian and actor Adrian Edmondson said Jones' appearance on the anarchic sitcom The Young Ones was "like an affirmation from God himself". He was the only Python to agree to make a cameo in the show.

Jones was born in Colwyn Bay on the north coast of Wales, before moving to Surrey as a toddler.

He went on to study English at Oxford, where he met Palin and the two went on to write and perform in satirical TV shows including Do Not Adjust Your Set and The Frost Report.

They later formed the Python troop with Cambridge graduates Chapman, Cleese and Idle, and American animator Gilliam.

As well as co-writing and staring in the Python TV shows, Jones also directed two of their films - Monty Python And The Holy Grail and The Meaning Of Life.

In Life Of Brian, Jones played Mandy, the mother of a hapless man mistaken for Jesus. His line: "He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy!" is now an internationally recognised catchphrase.

Despite being described as "foul, disgusting and blasphemous" by activist Mary Whitehouse at the time, the movie has since been voted the funniest classic comedy in a poll compiled by the magazine Total Film.

Often the Python called upon to dress up in drag in his roles, his other much-loved characters included Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson, Cardinal Biggles of the Spanish Inquisition and Mr Creosote, the monstrously obese restaurant patron.

Outside of Python he played Mr Toad in 1996 film The Wind In The Willows, which also starred Idle as Rat, Cleese as Mr Toad's Lawyer and Palin as The Sun.

In 2014 the remaining members of Monty Python reunited for the first time in 30 years for a series of live stage shows.

Tickets for the shows sold out in just 44 seconds, with some later appeared for resale on ticket listing websites for up to £3,000 each.

Jones leaves behind his wife Anna and three children Bill, Sally, Siri.

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