Monty Python comeback: The team tell all

Full details of reunion at the O2 Arena

The Monty Python team have been talking about their decision to reform for a one-off show at London’s O2 Arena next year.

At a press conference in London this lunchtime, all sitting behind the wrong names, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam promised a ‘spectacular’ staging of some of their greatest hits, plus material they have never performed on stage before.

The show on July 1 next year will be their first time the team have performed on stage together since they played the Hollywood Bowl on September 15, 1980. It will be filmed for a possible future DVD release and television airing.

Although it is currently only a one-off, the team did not rule out any further performances. ‘I think we should certainly think of touring the world,’ Palin said. ‘I've done it for many years...’

Despite rumours about their relationship, Palin said that the team still enjoy each other’s company adding: When we get together for business we do laugh. I didn't think it was possible to be silly over 70 but in fact it's easier.’

Gilliam added: ‘We might not like each other but we do make each other laugh.’

The team said they would miss Graham Chapman, who died in 1989, but Idle revealed: ‘He'll be there on screen. We'll even be performing with him.’

With typical bad taste, the tour is being promoted with the image of the Python foot stomping on a graveyard with the slogan ‘One down, five to go’. And Palin joked: ‘We have another sign saying “two down, four to go” on standby, just in case.’

Palin also promised: ‘There will be some new material,’ while Cleese added that new wasn’t necessarily what the audience wanted. ‘I remember going to the Royal Albert Hall and seeing Neil's Diamond booed in second half for singing old numbers,’ he said. ‘People want to see old stuff, but in a new way.’

He said he wouldn’t be performing the Ministry Of Silly Walks – ‘I’ve got an artificial knee and an artificial hip so there’s no chance of doing that’ but said he’d like to do the ‘crunchy frog’ sketch.

‘We might do the parrot,’ he added as his colleagues feigned ignorance of which sketch he was referring to. ‘The main danger we have is that the audience know the lines better than we do.’

Idle added: ‘There will be stuff we’ve never done on stage before. And stuff we're hoping people will have forgotten so it'll appear new.’

Their old colleague Carol Cleveland will join the team on stage, and the show will feature Gilliam’s animations, plus a full song-and-dance chorus choreographed by Arlene Philips

Idle, who also created Spamalot, said: ‘We'll make a big show; it'll be like a big musical we'll try to make it as exciting and as funny as possible.

Cleese added: ‘It’s more than just a performance. People enjoy the event, enjoy the experience of being with us. The Hollywood Bowl was one of the most fun things I ever did, there was a lovely festival atmosphere.’

The team said that revisiting the material in preparation for their O2 gig revived their faith in it. ‘We have read through some of the material and were encouraged,’ said Palin. ‘It suddenly felt funny again,’ Cleese agreed.

Tickets go on sale on Monday, priced £27.50 to £95. Idle, who will also direct the show, said: ‘We wanted to keep prices low, so we've set an upper limit of £100.’

Speaking further about whether they would take the show overseas, Cleese said of visiting America: ‘We all feel a bit tentative about performing in failed states’. And of visiting the Antipodes: ‘The only problem with Australia is that there are planets closer than that.’

Cleese added that since Python disbanded, he continued to have ideas for sketches ‘but I don't write them as there’s nowhere for them to go.’

Michael Palin also revealed that the team once planned a sequel to Monty Python And The Holy Grail, set during the Crusades. ‘We were all going to play. Crusaders who got diverted on the way to the Holy Land,’ he recalled.

A new website for the show has been created at montypythonlive.com, which is currently just collecting email addresses.

Published: 21 Nov 2013

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