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Terry Jones

Terry Jones

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: February 1, 1942 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: United Kingdom Profession: director, screenwriter, author, actor, gagwriter, producer's assistant, script editor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

es' War on the War on Terror.Jones' fascination for the Dark Ages also led to a series of well-regarding documentaries on the subject for the BBC. Jones served as writer and presenter in each of the programs, which examined the Crusades ("The Crusades," BBC, 1995), technology ("Ancient Inventions," BBC, 1998), and the day-to-day existence of citizens in medieval times ("Terry Jones' Medieval Lives," BBC, 2004). The latter earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for Non-Fiction Programming in 2004. Jones also tackled the history of numbers with "The Story of 1" (BBC, 2005), which took him around the globe to trace the development of the modern numerical system and mathematics. In all cases, the projects shed new light on long-established historical opinions - "Terry Jones' Barbarians" (BBC, 2006), for example, suggested that the European cultures who conquered ancient Rome were far more sophisticated than described in accounts from the period.Jones also retained his interest in comedy features and television throughout this busy period. In 1987, he directed the comedy "Personal Services," which was inspired by a real life brothel that catered to elderly clientele. The film was later...

es' War on the War on Terror.

Jones' fascination for the Dark Ages also led to a series of well-regarding documentaries on the subject for the BBC. Jones served as writer and presenter in each of the programs, which examined the Crusades ("The Crusades," BBC, 1995), technology ("Ancient Inventions," BBC, 1998), and the day-to-day existence of citizens in medieval times ("Terry Jones' Medieval Lives," BBC, 2004). The latter earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for Non-Fiction Programming in 2004. Jones also tackled the history of numbers with "The Story of 1" (BBC, 2005), which took him around the globe to trace the development of the modern numerical system and mathematics. In all cases, the projects shed new light on long-established historical opinions - "Terry Jones' Barbarians" (BBC, 2006), for example, suggested that the European cultures who conquered ancient Rome were far more sophisticated than described in accounts from the period.

Jones also retained his interest in comedy features and television throughout this busy period. In 1987, he directed the comedy "Personal Services," which was inspired by a real life brothel that catered to elderly clientele. The film was later banned by the Republic of Ireland, which had previously only banned three other films - two of which were Jones' "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and "Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life." In 1996, he directed and co-starred with Palin, Cleese, Idle and Steve Coogan in an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's "The Wind in the Willows," which was seen in America as "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride." He also penned the English translation for the French comedy "Asterix and Obelix Take on Caesar" (1999), and lent his voice to tubby sidekick Obelix for the English language dub. He served as executive producer on a French animated series called "Sacres dragons" (1996-1998), which aired on Toon Disney as "Blazing Dragons," and oversaw the final reunion of all six original Python members in "Parrot Sketch Not Included - 20 Years of Monty Python," which aired in 1989 shortly after Chapman's death from cancer. In typical cheeky form, Jones was quoted in regard to his longtime collaborator's passing as "the worst case of party-pooping in all history."

In 2006, the British press revealed that Jones had been diagnosed with bowel cancer, but subsequent stories soon reported that exploratory surgery had resulted in successful remission. Jones returned to his busy schedule of production and writing, which later encompassed his first musical opera, "Evil Machines," based on a collection of his short stories. Jones co-wrote the libretto and directed the production, which premiered in Lisbon, Portugal.(BBC, 1966), where he eventually met Cleese and Chapman, as well as Eric Idle. Jones and Palin eventually became performers as well as writers, and were featured in several series, including "Twice a Fortnight" (BBC, 1967) and the acclaimed children's series "Do Not Adjust Your Set," where they were joined by Idle. The success of their work on the latter series led to an offer for their own show on ITV in 1969; however, just as pre-production began on the program, Jones, Palin and Idle were asked by the BBC to partner with Cleese and Chapman on a new series for that network. Cleese was concerned about working on a two-man show with Chapman, whose work habits were best described as erratic, and reached out to Palin, with whom he had worked on several projects. Palin suggested bringing Jones and Idle, along with American artist Terry Gilliam, to the new series, which in 1969 reached British airwaves as "Monty Python's Flying Circus."

As a performer on "Python," Jones was frequently called upon to play straight man to the operatic heights of lunacy struck by Cleese or Chapman. He also excelled at playing caricatures of middle-class citizens, most notably screeching washerwomen or stuffy, bowler-hat-wearing businessmen, as seen in the famous "Candid Photography"/"Nudge, Nudge" sketch. His sketches with Palin were among the most densely constructed and offbeat of the series; in the "Mouse Organ" sketch, he cheerily presents a musical instrument filled with mice that, when struck with a mallet, can emit squeaks to the tune of "The Bells of St. Mary." His greatest contribution to the show - and to television comedy as a whole - may have been the show's stream-of-consciousness style, which he largely developed in its earliest days. He eschewed the standard comedy format of formal sketches that built to a punch line, and encouraged a more fluid style that often broke the third wall or simply flowed into another sketch altogether. Jones also suggested a similar approach to their show's direction - skits were filmed outdoors, and relied on none of the then-standard devices popular to TV comedy, such as heavy-handed music cues or static camera movement. The unique aesthetic he brought to "Python" would prove highly influential with generations of television comics and writers, and could be seen in programs on both sides of the Atlantic ranging from "Little Britain" (BBC 3/1, 2003-06) to "The Kids in the Hall" (CBC/HBO, 1988-1994) and "Mr. Show" (HBO, 1995-98).

Jones also lent that approach to three of the Pythons' feature films, which began in earnest after the group brought the series to a close in 1974. Jones and Gilliam split the direction on the second Python film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975), which took apart the Arthurian legend in typical madcap form. The production was a difficult one, according to all parties, due in no small part to the differing styles of the directors. Gilliam favored the technical aspects over the performances, while Jones applied the economical approach of the series to the feature film, with scenes lensed in wide angles and with few cuts to place the emphasis on the actors. The latter proved the most effective, and Jones was tapped to direct the next two theatrical sketch films - 1979's Monty Python's Life of Brian" and "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life" (1983). He also continued to perform in supporting roles in each films - in "Holy Grail," he is the befuddled Sir Bevedere, who conducts the film's memorable witch hunting scene, while in "Brian," he plays the mother of would-be Messiah Brian, among other roles. His most infamous screen portrayal, however, was in "Meaning of Life," where he donned considerable makeup to play the morbidly obese Mr. Creosote, whose hunger for food leads to a stomach-churning conclusion. Jones also reprised many of his television sketches in the Python concert film "Live at the Hollywood Bowl" (1982), and served as performer and director for several of the Secret Policeman's Ball shows, which teamed the Pythons with other British comedy greats and legendary musicians to benefit Amnesty International.

In addition to his work with Python, Jones enjoyed a wide-ranging solo career that included numerous TV projects, films, and countless books. With Palin, he created the BBC 1 series "Ripping Yarns" (1976-79), which parodied the breathless pulp adventures enjoyed by English schoolboys in the years prior to World War II. His fascination with medieval history and culture led to a string of books devoted to the subject, beginning in 1980 with "Chaucer's Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary," as well as numerous books of fairy tales and children's stories. One of these, "The Saga of Erik the Viking" (1983), which he penned for his son, served as the basis for a feature film, 1989's "Erik the Viking," with Tim Robbins as a kind-hearted Norseman and appearances by Jones and Cleese. The project proved an unsatisfying one for Jones, but a 2006 re-edit by his son Bill - for whom the book was written - proved more to his liking. In addition to his fiction work, Jones penned numerous editorials on current affairs for English newspapers; his articles in condemnation of the Iraq War were published in the book Terry Jon

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
3.
  Erik The Viking (1989) Director
4.
  Personal Services (1987) Director
6.

CAST: (feature film)

1.
3.
 Enfermes Dehors (2006)
4.
 Help! I'm A Fish (2001) Voice Of Professor H O Mac Krill (English Language Version)
5.
 Createur, Le (1999) God
6.
 Wind in the Willows, The (1997) Toad
7.
 Erik The Viking (1989) King Arnulf Of Hy-Brasil
10.
 Monty Python's Life Of Brian (1979) Bob Hoskins; Colin--A Passerby; Mandy; Mother Of Brian; Saintly Passerby; Simon The Holy Man
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1965:
Worked in the script department for BBC-TV series "Late Night Line-Up"; also first collaborations with Michael Palin
1966:
With Palin, made short films for "THe Late Show" (BBC)
1967:
Wrote and acted in the short "Twice a Fortnight"; aired on BBC
1967:
Appeared on the TV series "Do Not Adjust Your Set"; also wrote
1967:
Contributed to the series "The Frost Report"
1968:
Scripted the pantomime "Alladin" for the Waterford Civic Theatre Repertory Company
1969:
Joined the "Monty Python's Flying Circus"
1971:
Feature debut, co-wrote screenplay and appeared in, "And Now For Something Completely Different"
1975:
First feature as co-director (with Terry Gilliam), also credited for screenplay and various character appearances, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"
:
With Palin, co-wrote the BBC series "Ripping Yarns"
1979:
Solo directorial debut, "Monty Python's Life of Brian"; also acted in and co-wrote
1980:
US stage debut in California production of Monty Python at the Hollywood Bowl
1986:
First screeplay credit outside the Monty Python circle, "Labyrinth"
1987:
Wrote a regular column, "Input" for YOUNG GUARDIAN
1987:
Directed "Personal Services", a comic look at a woman who becomes embroiled in prostitution, inspired by real-life events
1989:
Wrote and directed "Erik the Viking", adapted from his book for children; also acted; last feature for nearly a decade
1997:
Returned to films as director, star and co-scenarist of "The Wind in the Willows"; also acted and wrote songs
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Education

St Edmund Hall, Oxford College: - 1961 - 1964

Notes

There is a website devoted to Monty Python located at www.pythonline.com

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Alison Telfer. Botanist.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Alick George Parry Jones. Bank clerk.
mother:
Dilys Louisa Jones.
daughter:
Sally Jones.
son:
Bill Jones.
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Bibliography close complete biography

"Bert Fegg's Nasty Book for Boys and Girls" Eyre Methuen
"Ripping Yarns" Eyre Methuen
"More Ripping Yarns" Eyre Methuen
"Chaucer's Knight: Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary" Weidenfeld & Nicolson
"Fairy Tales" Pavilion Books
"The Saga of Erik the Viking" Pavilion Books
"Dr. Fegg's Encyclopedia of All World Knowledge" Methuen
"Nicobobinus" Pavilion Books
"The Goblins of the Labyrinth" Pavilion Books
"The Curse of the Vampire Socks and Other Doggerel" Pavilion Books
"Attacks of Opinion" Penguin
"Erik the Viking: The Book of the Film of the Book" Methuen
"Erik the Viking" Robson Books
"Fantastic Stories" Pavilion Books
"The Dragon on the Roof"
"Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book" Turner Publishing
"Crusades" BBC Publishing
"Strange Stains and Mysterious Smells: Quentin Cottington's Journal of Faery Research" Simon & Schuster
"The Wind in the Willows: The Complete Illustrated Screenplay" Mandarin/Methuen
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