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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Jessica Gibb

John Cleese ridiculed for asking why BBC hasn’t shown Monty Python in 'two decades'

John Cleese has been mocked online for asking why the BBC hasn't shown Monty Python "for a couple of decades".

The actor and comedian, 83, appeared to ask the question in all innocence - forgetting that they had sold the rights to their films and sketch show.

Monty Python started as a comedy troupe made up of John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, the late Terry Jones and Graham Chapman.

They made their first series of Monty Python's Flying Circus for the BBC in 1969 and went on to make 45 episodes across four series for the corporation.

The Pythons also made five feature films including Monty Python and the Holy Grail in 1975 and Monty Python’s Life of Brian in 1979.

The Python's entire comedy library originated on the BBC but was sold to Netflix in 2019 - a fact that Cleese seems to have forgotten.

"Can anyone ( including BBC employees ) tell me why the BBC has not shown Monty Python for a couple of decades?" he asked his 5.6m followers.

And the comedian - who once mercilessly mocked King Arthur as the French Taunter in Holy Grail, shouting: "I fart in your general direction!" - felt the full wrath of his fans.

"Coz the BBC sold the license for the show to Netflix. I don't work for the BBC but it's pretty easy to find out, John," one fan wrote.

Another added: "You decided to give the exclusive rights to Netflix, you faded light bulb."

While a third wrote: "You don’t need a residual cheque, surely?"

Monty Python And The Holy Grail in 1975 - rear from left: Eric Idle, Michael Palin, center from left: John Cleese, Terry Jones (helmet), Graham Chapman as King Arthur (front) (LMPC via Getty Images)
The six-strong group first appeared on the BBC on October 5 1969 and went on to have global success with their often surreal comedy (PA)

Much of the Monty Python back catalogue is available to stream on Netflix in the UK including four series of Flying Circus, Holy Grail and Life of Brian as well as some live shows.

Earlier this year, having forked out £25million on three divorces, John Cleese admits he has been careless with his cash over his career.

He said: “I never understand money and I don’t find it very interesting, which is a real disadvantage in the world that we live in.

“I advise anybody who is a bit vague about it to become less vague because it has cost me a lot.

“I never knew how much money I had. I remember in America someone asked me where my investments were and I said, ‘I have no idea at all.’ I have just relied on people and in one or two cases that has been very good, but in one or two others, it has been disastrous.”

A chainmail-clad John Cleese reads a newspaper while Graham Chapman smokes a quiet pipe on the set of 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' (Getty Images)

The star also insisted that he hasn’t earned as much from his career, which spans seven decades, as his fans think.

He claims that he and the rest of the Monty Python troupe were paid £4,000 a series by the BBC for hit 1960s sketch show Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

He says he was paid £6,000 for writing and starring in sitcom Fawlty Towers, but does receive royalties.

“I only did three series of Python and a couple of series, just 12 programmes, of Fawlty Towers, and I used to say I did a lot of work for charity, most of it for the BBC,” he told the ShowTALK podcast.

“People say, ‘Oh, you were in James Bond.’ Yes, I did four days filming in four years, that was my contribution.”

John is currently married to fourth wife Jennifer Wade, 49, having also wed Fawlty Towers co-star Connie Booth, model and actress Barbara Trentham – who died in 2013 aged 68 – and author Alyce Eichelberger, 77.

Alyce hired Fiona Shackleton, the divorce lawyer who acted for Prince Charles and Paul McCartney, with the settlement costing comedy legend Cleese around £19m.

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