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'Wonderful talent, heart and mind': Monty Python star Terry Jones dies aged 77

The actor and comedian had been diagnosed with dementia in 2016.

File photo. Terry Jones.
File photo. Terry Jones.
Image: Sean Dempsey/PA Images

Updated Jan 22nd 2020, 3:10 PM

MONTY PYTHON STAR Terry Jones has died at the age of 77.

The actor and comedian, who had dementia, directed some of the comedy troupe’s most-loved works, including Life Of Brian.

He appeared in TV series Monty Python’s Flying Circus in a variety of characters and was known for his performances in drag.

In 2016 it was announced that Jones had been diagnosed with dementia.

A statement on behalf of his family said: “We are deeply saddened to have to announce the passing of beloved husband and father, Terry Jones.

“Terry passed away on the evening of 21 January 2020 at the age of 77 with his wife Anna Soderstrom by his side after a long, extremely brave but always good-humoured battle with a rare form of dementia, FTD.

“Over the past few days his wife, children, extended family and many close friends have been constantly with Terry as he gently slipped away at his home in North London.

“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.

“We, his wife Anna, children Bill, Sally, Siri and extended family would like to thank Terry’s wonderful medical professionals and carers for making the past few years not only bearable but often joyful. We hope that this disease will one day be eradicated entirely.”

The statement added: We ask that our privacy be respected at this sensitive time and give 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’.”

The Welsh-born star suffered from primary progressive aphasia, which affects the ability to communicate.

Jones directed Monty Python And The Holy Grail in 1975 with Terry Gilliam.

The group’s Life Of Brian film in 1979, about a hapless man mistaken for Jesus, was attacked as blasphemous at the time but has since been voted the funniest classic comedy in a poll compiled by the magazine Total Film.

On-screen, his much-loved characters included Arthur Two Sheds Jackson, Cardinal Biggles of the Spanish Inquisition and Mr Creosote, the monstrously obese restaurant patron.

‘Titan of British comedy’ 

monty-python-live-shows Monty Python stars John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam Source: Andy Gotts/PA

Fellow Monty Python star Michael Palin paid tribute to “one of my closest, most valued friends”. Michael said Jones was “kind, generous, supportive and passionate about living life to the full”.

“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,” he said.

He added in a statement to PA: “I feel very fortunate to have shared so much of my life with him.”

Fellow Python star John Cleese also paid tribute to Jones, tweeting: “It feels strange that a man of so many talents and such endless enthusiasm, should have faded so gently away…”

He added: “Two down, four to go.”

Stephen Fry, David Walliams and Charlie Brooker were also among those paying tribute to the star, with Fry praising Jones as a “wonderful talent, heart and mind”.

Walliams wrote: “Thank you Terry for a lifetime of laughter.”

Shane Allen, BBC controller of comedy commissioning, wrote that it was a “sad day to lose an absolute Titan of British comedy” and “one of the founding fathers of the most influential and pioneering comedy ensembles of all time”.

Jones also directed The Meaning Of Life in 1983, the Pythons’ last film together.

His other credits include The Wind In The Willows in 1996, with performances from Idle, Palin and Cleese, 2015 comedy Absolutely Anything, and Personal Services (1987).

Jones took part in a reunion of remaining Monty Python members in 2014 – Graham Chapman had died of cancer in 1989.

He had two children with Alison Telfer, whom he married in 1970, and became a father again, at the age of 67, with second wife Ms Soderstrom.

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