Spamalot royalties row goes to the High Court. But who will winalot?

Hit musical at centre of unholy row among comedians over share of the profits

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The Independent Culture

Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Eric Idle are due to appear as witnesses next week as the latest row about royalties from the Monty Python musical Spamalot reaches the High Court.

The Python team are being challenged by Mark Forstater, the producer of the Monty Python and the Holy Grail film, who wants a bigger share of the Spamalot profits.

Moreover, his lawyers claim that he should be regarded as the seventh Python, an equal to Jones, Palin, Idle, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and the late Graham Chapman.

The hit musical is a spin-off from the film, but one that has provoked renewed bickering among the Python team. A year ago Idle announced he had sacked Cleese as the voice of God in the musical and in defending the move said: "It wasn't mean – he's had millions of dollars from it. He charges people a fortune for using his voice. He's always been in financial crisis."

It prompted a riposte from Cleese: "I see Yoko Idle's been moaning (again), about the royalties he had to pay the other Pythons for Spamalot. Apparently, he paid me "millions". Actual, rough figures last time we checked: Yoko Idle $13m, Michael Palin $1.1m, the others just under a million each."

Forstater already gets one twenty-eighth of the merchandising deals resulting from the Holy Grail, and by extension Spamalot, but is claiming that he should get twice as much to bring him on a par with the others.

Tom Weisselberg, appearing for Forstater yesterday told Mr Justice Norris at the High Court: "Regrettably, the parties have not been able to resolve the dispute. Mr Forstater is in difficult financial circumstances and has been forced to bring these proceedings."

The film producer was made bankrupt in June, although the bankruptcy was annulled last month. The claim is being brought by Mr Forstater and his company Mark Forstater Productions Ltd against Python (Monty) Pictures Ltd (PMP), which represents the film interests of the Python team, and Freeway Cam (UK) Ltd, which holds the copyright in the Holy Grail.

Mr Weisselberg told the court: "The outrage expressed by a number of Pythons … is, with respect to them, misguided."