John Cleese defends Monty Python manager amid Eric Idle finance claims

John Cleese has come to the defence of the daughter of one of his Monty Python co-stars as he joked that the comedy troupe “always loathed and despised each other”.

Over the weekend, his former Python co-star Eric Idle blamed manager Holly Gilliam, daughter of Python co-founder Terry Gilliam, for the dwindling finances of the comedy group, which was formed in 1969.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, he wrote: “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.”

He added: “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.”

He later said he had not seen Cleese in seven years and, after an X user said that upset them, he replied: “Why? It makes me happy.”

Comedian and actor Cleese, who founded the troupe alongside Idle, Gilliam, Terry Jones, Sir Michael Palin and Graham Chapman, responded by defending Ms Gilliam in a post on X on Tuesday.

He wrote: “I have worked with Holly for the last ten years, and I find her very efficient, clear-minded, hard-working, and pleasant to have dealings with.

“Michael Palin has asked me to to make it clear that he shares this opinion.

“Terry Gilliam is also in agreement with this.”

An X user asked Cleese: “What happened with the other Pythons.. Seen a few tweets from Eric. Did yous fall out of touch with each other?”

He jokingly responded: “We always loathed and despised each other, but it’s only recently that the truth has begun to emerge.”

Another queried about whether the troupe makes any money from the classic Python episodes, to which Cleese said: “Not what most people assume, no.

“Remember, we did our TV shows for my favourite charity – the BBC.”

Graham Norton Show – London
Eric Idle blamed manager Holly Gilliam, daughter of Monty Python co-founder Terry Gilliam, for the comedy troupe’s dwindling finances (Ian West/PA)

Monty Python was one of the UK’s best-known comedy troupes, rising to prominence with the sketch series Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which ran on the BBC from 1969 to 1974.

The group followed their TV work by making a series of films, including 1975’s Monty Python And The Holy Grail, 1979’s Life Of Brian, and 1983’s The Meaning Of Life.

Idle later created the medieval musical Spamalot, which earned a Tony award for best musical after being on Broadway.

He also appeared in Shrek The Third, and in Monty Python Live (Mostly) in 2014 alongside some of the troupe.

Chapman died of tonsil cancer in 1989, aged 48, while Jones died from a rare form of dementia in 2020, aged 77.