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Among the Pythons, Terry Jones – an enthusiastic and passionate driver of the group – has pursued perhaps the broadest range of artistic and intellectual pursuits, from writing and performing to directing; from comedian and children’s book author to Middle Ages scholar; from documentary host to political columnist.
Born in Colwyn Bay, Wales, Jones teamed with fellow Oxford student Michael Palin to write and perform revues for the university’s theatre club. They later contributed their surreal humor to “The Frost Report,” “Do Not Adjust Your Set,” “Broaden Your Mind,” “Marty,” and “The Complete and Utter History of Britain.”
Jones was the Python most likely to appear in drag (usually as a haggard housewife having to contend with gas cooker deliverymen, rat tarts or poets) or nude (playing the organ). His most notable characters include Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson, Cardinal Biggles of the Spanish Inquisition; Scottish poet Ewan McTeagle; aspiring but hopelessly untalented filmmaker L.F. Dibley; a Spam restaurateur; Superintendant Harry “Snapper” Organs; a collector of butterfly hunters; Arthur Mee, the cheesy host of the All-England Summarise Proust Competition; the Dirty Vicar; prospective bridegroom Prince Herbert; Mandy, the mother of Brian (not the messiah, but a very naughty boy); and the gluttonous Mr. Crosote.
Jones co-directed (with Terry Gilliam) “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” and thereafter directed the subsequent Python features “Life of Brian” and “The Meaning of Life.” His other directing credits include “Personal Services,” “Erik the Viking,” “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride,” “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles,” and “Absolutely Everything.” He also penned the screenplay for the Jim Henson fantasy “Labyrinth.”
His books include “Fairy Tales,” “Nicobobinus,” “The Knight and the Squire,” “Who Murdered Chaucer?: A Medieval Mystery,” “Crusades,” “Terry Jones’s War on the War on Terror,” “Douglas Adams’s Starship Titanic,” and (with Palin) “Bert Fegg’s Nasty Book for Boys and Girls.”