And now for something completely awful

Rumours of a Monty Python reunion lead Gerard Gilbert to wonder: why?

The Stone Roses aren't the only fondly remembered combo reuniting for the first time since the Nineties. The cast of Monty Python's Flying Circus (minus, of course, the late Graham Chapman) is reportedly reassembling for the first time since 1998 to voice a 3D part-animated sci-fi comedy called Absolutely Anything, to be directed by Terry Jones. Absolutely anything to do what, we may be forgiven for asking, while giving thanks that animation will conceal the worst ravages of age.

Let's not forget that a paunchy John Cleese was recently fund-raising in a one-man show called the Alimony Tour, to help pay for a £20m divorce settlement. And that way back in 1971 Michael Palin wrote in his diary that, "John and Eric (Idle) see Monty Python as a means to an end - money to buy freedom from work". But let's suppose that the film is not just a belated whip-round for the Pythons' pension pots. Would it be such a good idea? And will it actually happen?

After all it rather supposes that Eric Idle will re-join the fold. Echoing George Harrison's words about a Beatles reunion - that there "won't be one as long as John Lennon remains dead" – Idle once quipped that there would be a Python reunion "just as soon as Graham Chapman comes back from the dead". But a more serious fissure seems to have opened up in 1998 over Cleese's refusal to take part in a mooted sequel to their 1975 movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Idle eventually cooked up a hit musical from the bones of Holy Grail; Spamalot, itself a cause of recent rancour after Idle excised John Cleese's voice from the part of God - thus saving on paying Cleese extra royalties. In a Twitter spat Cleese dubbed his former comedy partner "Yoko Idle", in reference to Yoko Ono's alleged role in splitting up the Beatles. In fact Monty Python reunions have become rather like the Dead Parrot sketch in which the parrot's purchaser says it's dead, while the pet-shop owner insists it's just resting.

Resting or deceased, during that famous 1979 TV debate in which Palin and Cleese defended Life of Brian against Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark, Mervyn Stockwood did at least make one good point when he called the Pythons' humour "undergraduate". Indeed it was probably the most successful ever example of undergraduate humour, with a strong appeal to anyone aged between eight and 28. It feels a bit odd, cynical even, coming from the over-70s, which is the age that all the cast members will be by the time Absolutely Anything is released.

But the real point about Monty Python's Flying Circus is surely that it was of its time. It's hard to overstate the excitement triggered by the opening beats of 'The Liberty Bell', the American marching music that doubled as Monty Python's theme tune, when the show first aired between 1969 and 1974. I know because I was there. It revolutionised TV comedy, and its descendants are everywhere, from Craggy Island to Royston Vasey, The Mighty Boosh to This Is Jinsy - although it can't just be a coincidence that, unlike the almost nightly Fawlty Towers repeats on the digital TV station Gold, Monty Python is rarely re-shown. Unlike Cleese's Torquay hotelier sitcom, in other words, it is not a show that rewards repeated reviewing. Few things date faster than out-and-out silliness.

It's easy to forget that Monty Python sketches were often hit-and-miss, and so familiar have the hits - the Dead Parrot, Cheese Shop and Spam sketches - become by repetition that they have evolved more into liturgies than comedy routines. Absolutely Anything will apparently not be a Monty Python film as such, but Pythonesque "in tone". How could it not be? Thanks, guys, you were great, but time for something completely different.

News

literature

News
Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.

television

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss