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  1. ITV Report

Monty Python star Terry Jones dies at the age of 77

  • Video report by ITV News Arts Correspondent Nina Nannar

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

The Welsh-born actor, writer and comedian died on Tuesday evening with his wife, Anna Soderstorm, by his side after a "long, extremely brave but always good humoured battle with a rare form of dementia, FTD", his family said.

Jones 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.

A family statement said they were "deeply saddened" by his death.

"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," the statement added.

"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.

The statement added: "We hope that this disease will one day be eradicated entirely. 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'."

John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones (centre), Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam. Credit: PA

Fellow Monty Python stars have paid tribute to their friend, Sir Michael Palin said in a statement: "Terry was one of my closest, most valued friends. He 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.

"I feel very fortunate to have shared so much of my life with him and my heart goes out to Anna, Alison and all his family."

John Cleese also paid tribute to his co-star: "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."

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Eric Idle tweeted that Jones's death "is a cruel and sad thing", adding: "But let's remember just what joy he brought to all of us."

Idle said he loved Jones "the moment I saw him on stage at the Edinburgh Festival in 1963.

"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."

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Fellow Python Terry Gilliam tweeted: "Terry was someone totally consumed with life.. a brilliant, constantly questioning, iconoclastic, righteously argumentative and angry but outrageously funny and generous and kind human being and very often a complete pain in the ass. "One could never hope for a better friend."

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

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

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Michael Palin said the impact of dementia on his friend and fellow Monty Python star Terry Jones had been "painful to watch".

Palin described Jones as the "spirit of Monty Python" in an interview with ITV News.

Writing in a Facebook post in 2016, Palin said Jones losing his ability to talk was "the cruellest thing that could befall someone to whom words, ideas, arguments, jokes and stories were once the stuff of life."

"Terry J has been my close friend and workmate for over 50 years. The progress of his dementia has been painful to watch," Palin wrote.

"Not that Terry is out of circulation. He spends time with his family and only two days ago I met up with him for one of our regular meals at his local pub.

"Terry doesn't say very much but he smiles, laughs, recognises and responds, and I'm always pleased to see him. Long may that last."

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.

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

One of his most famous quotes is from Life of Brian: "Now, you listen here! He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy!"

John Cleese and Terry Jones in rehearsals for their Monty Python Live show in 2014. Credit: PA

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

He 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, who he married in 1970, and became a father again, at the age of 67, with second wife Anna Soderstrom.