Michael Palin rubbishes claim of '7th Python' Mark Forstater in court battle over royalties to Spamalot musical

From the seventh Python to a missed Nobel prize, Jonathan Brown looks at those who fame forgot

Chapman, Idle, Gilliam, Jones, Cleese, Palin and … Forstater?

Fans of Monty Python were astonished this week to learn that a seventh figure was claiming credit as a member of the 20th century’s most revered comedy collective. Mark Forstater, producer of the 1975 cult classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail, is suing the five surviving members for a share of the royalties and merchandising from the spectacularly successful musical spin off Spamalot.

Mr Forstater, 69, whose production credits include the 1978 comedy The Odd Job, which starred the late Graham Chapman, brought the legal action for £250,000 after falling on hard financial times, the High Court heard. He claims he is entitled to more money after signing a profit- sharing agreement before The Holy Grail was released. In court, however, Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Terry Jones poured scorn on the notion that there was ever a seventh member of what they described as a jealously guarded creative team.

Palin said: “It might have been what he was seeking but it was never going to be accepted by the Pythons. The idea of a seventh Python, it just doesn’t happen. It’s never been like that.” Mr Forstater wouldn’t be the first to be credited, rightly or wrongly, with influencing others’ endeavours. While some are rewarded for their efforts, others aren’t so lucky.

Lamont Dozier... and the Four Tops

Levi Stubbs and his smooth-crooning Four Tops were one of Motown’s biggest acts in the 1960s. But behind the scenes there was a Fifth, Sixth and even a Seventh Top. Lamont Dozier and the brothers Brian and Eddie Holland crafted some of the vocal group’s finest songs including the classic Reach Out I’ll Be There. But the songwriting trio fell out with Motown’s founder, Berry Gordy, over royalties, working to rule and eventually leaving the label – and the Four Tops – behind them.

Paul McGuinness...and U2

Having signed them up in 1978 over a few pints in a Dublin pub they were too young to drink in, Mr McGuinness insisted that everything U2 earned was split equally between the four band members and himself. But although he was Mr 20 Per Cent for much of their ascent to become the richest band in the world, the fifth share was later – and amicably – renegotiated. McGuinness has since  negotiated a 12-year touring deal with Live Nation and the U2 iPod branding.

Rosalind Franklin... and Watson & Crick

In 1962, Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins were jointly awarded a Nobel Prize for their discovery of the molecular structure of DNA. There was no award for the British scientist Rosalind Franklin – she had died of ovarian cancer four years earlier and the prize cannot be awarded posthumously – but many feel her contribution was swept under the carpet. Franklin was an expert in  X-ray diffraction, and her 1952 image of the B-form of the molecule showed that DNA was made up of the now famous double helix. These photos were shared without her permission. In 1953, the first published study on DNA’s structure appeared in the journal Nature.

Nigel Godrich...and Radiohead

Drafted in as a sound engineer on the recording of Radiohead’s breakthrough album The Bends, Godrich has since gone on to be regarded as the sixth member of the influential band. He took control of the mixing desk to produce the hugely successful OK Computer, released in 1997, which was recorded in a mobile studio next to a power station where cattle were being incinerated at the height of the mad cow disease crisis. He produced all of Radiohead’s subsequent albums from Kid A in 2000 to last year’s The King of Limbs. Godrich has also produced Beck, Travis and Paul McCartney, and recently formed his own band, Ultraista, releasing a well-received album in November.

Tony McCarroll...and Oasis

It is rumoured that tensions between drummer McCarroll and his Oasis bandmates began early in the band’s career. In what fans dub the “£1,000 incident”, Noel Gallagher spent money advanced to the musicians on a new guitar, and refused to buy drum skins despite the fact McCarroll had paid £600 for a new drum kit. He featured on their 1994 debut album, Definitely Maybe, and left the band the following year. In 1999, he sued for £18m – a fifth of the band’s earnings since his departure. He settled out of court for £600,000.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine