My favourite Monty Python moment was splitting up, says Idle

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The Independent Online

THE HAPPY coming together of the Monty Python comedy troupe to celebrate its 30th anniversary this weekend has been tainted by an outburst of anti-Python feeling by one of its members.

THE HAPPY coming together of the Monty Python comedy troupe to celebrate its 30th anniversary this weekend has been tainted by an outburst of anti-Python feeling by one of its members.

Eric Idle, answering readers' questions in today's Independent, has backed up his recent protestations of uninterest in the anniversary by admitting that he was glad that the Pythons split up.

He also claims that he can only contemplate working on Python material if he does so away from the rest of the group, and says that John Cleese is an "alpha male".

Idle, who has been in Britain to promote a novel, has returned to his home in Los Angeles before a gala screening of Monty Python's Life of Brian in London tomorrow. The fourother surviving Pythons are due to attend the screening, which is being held to raise money for the Macmillan Cancer Relief charity in memory of Graham Chapman, their colleague who died 10 years ago.

Asked by a reader if he regrets that the Pythons went their separate ways, Idle responds: "No. I am exceedingly grateful. I have had a wonderful time over the past 16 years and I would like to thank them all personally for it." When asked what persuaded him to write new material for the 30th anniversary special, which is to be broadcast on BBC2 this weekend, he said: "I have discovered I really don't mind doing Monty Python, providing none of the others are around."

A spokeswoman for Idle said that his comments were intended to be funny. She said that work commitments had taken him back to California, where he currently stars in an American sitcom.

"He's been claiming for ages that he goes around telling people he's Michael Palin and then being rude to ruin Michael's reputation for niceness," said the spokeswoman. "Being rude about the group is just his dry humour."

But the sentiments back up recent remarks Idle made about the anniversary being no more than media hype.

Idle, who wrote most of the songs for the troupe, usually wrote scripts on his own, even when the group was together. He said in a book of interviews published to mark the anniversary that he prefers the work he has done after the troupe broke up, such as his Beatles spoof, The Rutles.

"Like everyone else I prefer my solo work because it is mine. You cannot take credit for Python because it was group effort. I like my play, my books, my songs, The Rutles, so much stuff. Python was just a part of my life. It isn't my fault people won't let it go.

"Whether we will ever be able to agree on anything ever again is moot. I think groups use up all their agreements early and then all that's left is to disagree."

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