Eric Idle exposes Python rift | he complains about the lack of income from their old work © Robyn Von Swank

Eric Idle exposes Python rift he complains about the lack of income from their old work

Eric Idle has exposed a rift in the Pythons, complaining that the troupe’s back catalogue doesn’t bring him as much money as people think.

The comic criticised his former colleague Terry Gilliam and Gilliam’s daughter Holly, who manages the troupe’s affairs, while complaining that streaming services do not pay enough in royalties.

Writing on social media, the 80-year-old 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.

‘I think the serious problem are the Spotifies and the  UTubes.  Copyright ain’t worth jack shit any more.’

‘We own everything we ever made in Python and I never dreamed that at this age the income streams would tail off so disastrously.  But I guess if you put a Gilliam child in as your manager you should not be so surprised. One Gilliam is bad enough. Two can take out any company.’

On fan suggested another money-spinning comeback, with Idle saying bluntly: ‘No thanks’, and in another post added: ‘I’m doing no more Python.  I gave already. Ungrateful bastards.’

And when another suggested a Netflix retrospective documentary he said: ‘Fuck Netflix and fuck documentaries.’

Idle has also been at odds with fellow Python John Cleese for some years. When it was reported last year that Cleese was working on a stage production of Monty Python's Life of Brian, Idle tweeted: ‘I have nothing at all to do with this production or adaptation. Apparently Cleese has cut the song. Of course.’ Idle wrote the classic Always Look On The Bright Side of Life for the crucifixion scene.

This weekend, Idle pointed out that he hadn’t seen Cleese for seven years, one fan said: ‘That makes me sad’. To which Idle responded: ‘Why. It makes me happy.’

‘I still love and am proud of what we did as Python,’ he wrote. ‘It was a very unique group.  I think of us as an ex Liverpool team. We played together well. Way back in the day.  But it was never very supportive of people’s feelings and emotions. Not Brothers.  Colleagues.’

Holly Gilliam, a media lawyer, took over the Monty Python brand in 2014 and co-produced that year’s reunion show, Monty Python Live (Mostly) — One Down, Five to Go, which sold out the O2 Arena for ten nights.

One fan stood up for her, saying: ‘To be fair to Holly Gilliam - something which Idle is definitely not being - she has spearheaded more reissue stuff and distribution deals in her 10 years than the previous regime did in about 20. The problem is that sales of Python stuff have fallen off a cliff.’

Spamalot, the musical Idle wrote ‘lovingly ripping  off’ Monty Python And The Holy Grail grossed more than £117million in its original Broadway run – and is now back on the New York stage.

When the show toured the UK in 2011, Idle cut Cleese as the voice of God, saying: ‘I fired John Cleese – surgically removed him. It wasn’t mean – he’s had millions of dollars from it. He charges people a fortune for using his voice. He’s always been in financial crisis.’

In response to that Cleese  wrote: ‘I see Yoko Idle’s been moaning (again), about the royalties he had to pay the other Pythons for Spamalot. Apparently he paid me "millions" . Actual rough figures last time we checked - Yoko Idle $13m (£8.49m), Michael Palin $1.1m (£700,000), the others just under a million each...(around £650,000).’

Idle’s daughter Lily supported her father calling out the state of the Python finances, writing on X: ‘I’m so proud of my dad for finally starting to share the truth. He has always stood up to bullies and narcissists and absolutely deserves reassurance and validation for doing so.’

Idle urged fans to book tickets for the current Broadway run of Spamalot and said he was enjoying working on new, non-Python, projects.

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Published: 12 Feb 2024

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