You ask the questions

(Such as: Eric Idle, do you always look on the bright side of life? And what does 'ni' mean?)

Wednesday 06 October 1999 00:00
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Eric Idle, 56, ex-Python, actor and author, was born in South Shields, County Durham. He studied English at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He is best known for his role in the cult comedy series Monty Python's Flying Circus, now celebrating its 30th anniversary. A series of new sketches will be shown as part of a Monty Python theme night on BBC2 on Saturday. Eric has just published his second novel, The Road To Mars (Boxtree £14.99), and has also written a children's book and composed numerous songs. He lives in California with his second wife, American model Tania Kossvitch, and their nine-year-old daughter, Lily.

Eric Idle, 56, ex-Python, actor and author, was born in South Shields, County Durham. He studied English at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He is best known for his role in the cult comedy series Monty Python's Flying Circus, now celebrating its 30th anniversary. A series of new sketches will be shown as part of a Monty Python theme night on BBC2 on Saturday. Eric has just published his second novel, The Road To Mars (Boxtree £14.99), and has also written a children's book and composed numerous songs. He lives in California with his second wife, American model Tania Kossvitch, and their nine-year-old daughter, Lily.

Do you really always look on the bright side of life? Lindsay Thomas, Cardiff Usually I try and avoid taking my own advice but I make an exception in this.

What does "ni" mean? Lindsay Thomas, Cardiff I believe it means "Do you know the right junction for Birmingham?" and as such is a very odd question.

If you had to write a song conveying the nature of your relationship with John Cleese and Michael Palin what would it be? Emma Jones, Brough, Cumbria Ebony And Irony.

As an actor you have frequently had to cross-dress. Did you enjoy this and what was your favourite accessory? Sabina Zawadzki, by e-mail I absolutely hate dressing up as a woman, which is odd because I so much enjoy undressing them. If you want to see just how strange women are, try wearing their clothes and make-up for a day. No wonder they're so weird. Excuse me, I must run and have my legs waxed.

Michael Palin once said that the Pythons would never reform. What persuaded you to write new material for Monty Python's 30th anniversary? Anne Brookes, Poole The fact that I wouldn't have to meet Michael Palin. I really don't mind doing Monty Python, providing none of the others are around.

How do you get over unrequited love? Katie Marks, by e-mail You try again, a bit harder, preferably on a more willing subject.

What is your favourite film? Frank Browne, Henley-on-Thames Jules et Jim.

You made it on to Top Of The Pops aged 49. Was this wise? Jennifer Adams, Birmingham No, it was profoundly foolish.

Is it true that actors are generally temperamental and difficult to work with? And is it true that comedians are dark and depressive? Mr H E MacMillan, Ascot, Berks I'm sorry to say I don't know many actors - but I remain profoundly grateful to them. They are long-suffering, woefully under-employed, much maligned and dreadfully humble. Comedians are of two kinds - but then you might discover all this if you read The Road To Mars.

Who was the dominant writer out of the Pythons? Nina Bloom, Croydon Cleese was the alpha male of the alphabet.

Can we assume from Life Of Brian, that you are not a religious man? Miss C Low, Alresford, Hampshire Au contraire, I am a highly religious man. I just don't believe in God.

What do you miss about life in England? K Godlow, by e-mail The football, the TV, the pubs, the people and the laughs.

Who is the sexiest woman you have ever worked with? Gillian Gray, London SW4 Well, I did once have to spend a day in bed with Catherine Zeta Jones, but unfortunately they were filming us at the time.

Who is your favourite comedian? F G Daly, Cheltenham Billy Connolly.

Where does the title Monty Python come from - and what does it mean? Rebecca Callaghan, Wiltshire I forget.

Do you believe in having open relationships like Terry Jones's marriage? Nicholas Pyke, Solihull, Birmingham I believe in them for Terry.

What was the Lumberjack sketch all about? Elisabeth Barnes, Essex I didn't write it. But I believe it was about the poignancy of being in the wrong set and the yearning to be transported into another.

Do you ever regret that the Pythons went their separate ways? Jeremy Raw, London 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.

Does having the surname Idle make you work harder? Cathie Leader, Colchester, Essex Maybe.

What's the worst movie you've ever made? T Hutchins, Chipping Norton, Oxon Tough question. Munchausen was probably the worst. Grail was pretty tough. Being crucified in Brian wasn't easy either. No, I know you didn't exactly mean that... but making movies is making life experiences - and sometimes, the best times can be on the worst movies and vice versa, eg Yellowbeard, which I wouldn't have missed for the world.

Do you think that humour can subvert the political status quo? Was this an aim of Monty Python? Keith Flett, London N17 Yes and no.

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