Announcing ‘The Lives Of Terry’: A Tribute

A call to action for a charity anthology celebrating Terry Jones.

To commemorate the life and work of Monty Python’s Terry Jones, who sadly passed away on 21 January 2020, We Are Cult editor James Gent will be curating a tribute anthology celebrating the diverse, and often unsung, career of Terry Jones in all his guises: Python, comedy writer/performer, film director, historian, novelist, poet, and lover of life.

This book will be a not-for-profit publication, raising funds for the Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK.

The anthology is provisionally titled The Lives of Terry, to acknowledge the broad scope of his work.

As well as writing and performing in all forty-five episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Terry Jones co-wrote, performed in and directed the three original Python films – Monty Python And The Holy Grail (sharing the director’s chair with Terry Gilliam), Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life, which won the 1983 Cannes Film Festival Grand Jury Prize. As the Python most likely to appear in drag, take his clothes off or serve canned pork luncheon meet to Viking hordes, some of his most celebrated Python characters included The Nude Organist, Arthur ‘Two Sheds’ Jackson, Wise Sir Bedevere, Mandy Cohen (Brian’s mother), Mr. Creosote, Dino Vercotti and a number of Pepperpot Ladies.

Jones was also heavily involved in the Pythons’ spin-offs, contributing original material to Monty Python’s Big Red Book [1971] and The Brand New Monty Python Bok [1973] including the memorable poem ‘Horace, The Boy Who Ate Himself’, later republished in his collection The Curse Of The Vampire Socks. Jones co-produced the first two original Monty Python albums (Monty Python’s Previous Record [1971], Another Monty Python Record [1972]) and (deep breath) The Album Of The Soundtrack Of the Trailer Of The Film Of Monty Python And The Holy Grail [1975], as well as conceiving the ‘double groove’ concept of The Monty Python Matching Tie & Handkerchief [1973], the world’s first three-sided record.

Between 1976 and 1979, Terry Jones and Michael Palin wrote the spoof adventure series Ripping Yarns, although Terry only appeared in the first two episodes. The series was accompanied by two tie-in books published by Methuen, the home of literary Python. The pair also collaborated on Bert Fegg’s Dirty Book For Boys And Girls revised and updated in 1984 as Bert Fegg’s Encylopedia Of All World Knowledge.

Prior to Python, he wrote and performed with fellow Oxford student Michael Palin on a number of shows for the Oxford Experimental Theatre before cutting his teeth as a writer and script editor at the BBC, joining future Pythons Palin, Cleese, Chapman and Idle as part of the writing team for The Frost Report under head writers Barry Cryer and Marty Feldman, as well as writing and performing material for Late Night Line Up, A Series Of Bird’s, The Late Show, Twice A Fortnight, Broaden Your Mind and Marty, and in proto-Python comedy series Do Not Adjust Your Set and The Complete & Utter History of Britain. A keen archivist, Jones saved film clips from some of these shows which remain the only surviving footage, as both BBC and ITV frequently wiped shows after broadcast. He was very keen that Monty Python’s Flying Circus did not suffer the same fate.

His film credits include writing and directing Personal Services, Erik The Viking, Wind In The Willows and Absolutely Anything, and the screenplay for Jim Henson’s Labyrinth (as well as the spin-off book, Goblins of the Labyrinth, with Brian Froud), although the finished product was much toned-down from his first draft.

He also made a name for himself as a noted historian and Medievalist with his academically admired Chaucer’s Knight, which was followed twenty-five years later with Who Murdered Chaucer?: A Medieval Mystery. He also wrote and presented a number of historical documentaries for the BBC such as The Crusades, Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives, The Barbarians, So This Is Progress? and And God Blew.

As a writer, he turned his hand to everything from childrens’ stories (enjoying a fruitful collaboration with illustrators Michael Foreman and Brian Froud) to collections of newspaper columns, Attacks of Opinion and Terry Jones’ War On The War On Terror, and the cult book Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairies Book, a spoof of the Cottingley fairies hoax, lavishly illustrated by Brian Froud and complete with a ‘censored’ sealed section riffing on the controversy around Madonna’s Sex book.

Lesser known works include the dark comedy Secrets, which was adapted by Andrew Davies as the 1988 film Consuming Passions; the short film The Box; two-act play Their Finest Hours; a novelisation of Douglas Adams’ computer game Starship Titanic; the operettas The Doctor’s Tale and Evil Machines; East Of The Moon, a childrens’ TV series for Yorkshire TV with Neil Innes; directing Jeepers Creepers, a play about his friend Marty Feldman; and Boom Bust Boom, a documentary on global economics. He was also a founder member of CAMRA and established his own brewery, Penhros Ales.

In 2015, Terry was awarded the Bath Comedy Festival’s Bath Plug Award for his services to comedy, and in 2016 received a BAFTA Cymru award for his outstanding contribution to film and television; the announcement of this accolade was coupled with the sad news that Jones had been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia, a severe form of dementia.

Dementia is a cruel condition, as anyone who has seen a friend or family member succumb to it can attest. In the case of a modern day Renaissance man like Terry Jones, who was such a polymath, and known to fans and friends alike as a gifted, passionate, intellectual and warm communicator, it’s nothing less than a tragedy – for the millions who have enjoyed his work not to mention his friends and family.

With The Lives of Terry, we aim to celebrate those achievements, those skills, that talent, passion and astoundingly massive intelligence, and share with fellow fans what that work means to you and the impact it has made on you, in your own words; while also raising funds for a worthwhile cause.

Contributors of all levels of writing skill and experience are welcome to submit contributions; while we cannot guarantee that every contribution will appear in the finished book, we aim to communicate openly and clearly with everyone who gets in touch with us and manage your expectations realistically – if we receive a piece that we feel has potential but may require revisions, we are happy to engage in correspondence with you to help fine-tune and polish your contribution. The editor has extensive experience in writing, editing, fact-checking and proof-reading. Any revisions will go no further without your prior approval, and if your contribution is accepted you retain copyright. As this is a non-profit charity book, we cannot offer a fee but every published contributor will receive a complimentary digital copy of the book. In return, we only ask that you respect the book’s charity status and do not upload it online.

To assist in helping prospective contributors for topics, here’s a list of Terry Jones’ credits:

The Frost Report (TV, 1966-1967)
The Late Show (TV, 1966)
A Series Of Bird’s (TV, 1967)
Twice A Fortnight (TV, 1967)
Do Not Adjust Your Set (TV, 1967 – 1969)
Marty, Marty Amok (TV, 1968 – 1970)
Broaden Your Mind (TV, 1968)
The Complete & Utter History of Britain (TV, 1969)
Monty Python’s Flying Circus (TV, 1969 – 1974)
Who’s There? (Labour Party film, 1971)
And Now For Something Completely Different (film, 1971)
Another Monty Python Record (LP, 1971)
Monty Python’s Big Red Book (bok, 1971)
Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus (TV, 1971 – 1972)
Monty Python’s Previous Record (LP, 1972)
Black And Blue: Secrets (TV, 1973)
Monty Python’s First Farewell Tour (1973)
The Monty Python Matching Tie & Handkerchief (LP, 1973)
The Brand New Monty Python Bok (bok, 1973)
Bert Fegg’s Nasty Book For Boys and Girls (book, 1974)/Bert Fegg’s Encyclopedia of All World Knowledge (book, 1984)
Monty Python Live At Drury Lane (LP, 1974)
Monty Python And The Holy Grail (film/book/LP, 1975)
Pleasure At Her Majesty’s (show/film/LP, 1976)
Ripping Yarns (TV/books, 1976 – 1979)
The Mermaid Frolics (show/LP, 1977)
The Secret Policeman’s Ball (show/LP, 1979)
Monty Python’s Life Of Brian (film/LP/book, 1979)
Chaucer’s Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary (book, 1980, 1995)
Peter Cook & Co (TV, 1980)
Monty Python’s Contractual Obligation Album (LP, 1980)
Monty Python Live At The Hollywood Bowl (film, 1980)
Fairy Tales (book, 1981)
Paperbacks (TV, 1981)
The Rupert Bear Story (documentary, 1982)
The Saga of Erik The Viking (book, 1983)
Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (film/LP/book, 1983)
The Young Ones: Nasty (TV, 1984)
Inside The Labyrinth (TV/ documentary, 1986)
Labyrinth (film, 1986)
Goblins of The Labyrinth (book, 1986)/The Goblin Companion (book, 1996)
Personal Services (film/novel, 1987)
Hastily Cobbled Together For A Fast Buck (Python bootleg, compiled 1987)
Attacks of Opinion (book. 1988)
The Curse of the Vampire’s Socks (book, 1988)
East of the Moon (TV, 1988)
Erik The Viking (film, 1989)/Erik The Viking: The Director’s Son’s Cut (2007)
Monty Python Sings (LP, 1989)
So This Is Progress? (documentary, 1991)
Young Indiana Jones Chronicles: Barcelona, May 1917 (TV, 1991)
Fantastic Stories (book, 1992)
Jackanory (TV, 1993)
A Fish of the World (short story, 1993)
The Beast with  a Thousand Teeth (short story, 1993)
The Fly By Night (short story, 1994)
The Sea Tiger (short story, 1994)
Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairies Book (book, 1994)
The Crusades (TV/book, 1995)
Strange Stains and Mysterious Smells (book, 1996)
The Wind In The willows (film, 1996)
The Knight And The Squire (book, 1997)
Douglas Adams’ Starship Titanic: A Novel (book, 1997)
Ancient Inventions (TV, 1998)
The Lady And The Squire (book, 2000)
Gladiators: The Hidden Truth (TV/book, 2001)
Bedtime Stories (book, 2002)
Terry Jones’ Hidden Histories (TV/book, 2002)
Who Murdered Chaucer? (book, 2003)
Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives (TV/book, 2004)
Terry Jones’ War On The War On Terror (book, 2005)
Terry Jones’ Barbarians (TV/book, 2006)
Terry Jones’ Great Map Mystery (TV, 2008)
The Legend of Dick and Dom (TV, 2009 – 2011)
Monty Python: Almost The Truth (documentary, 2009)
Not The Messiah (concert/DVD, 2010)
Pillars of Risk (documentary, 2010)
Animal Tales (book, 2011)
Evil Machines (opera/book, 2011)
The Doctor’s Tale (libretto, 2011)

Trouble On The Heath (novella, 2011)
A Liar’s Autobiography (film, 2012)
The Meaning of Monty Python (documentary, 2013)
Imagine: And Now For Something Entirely Similar (documentary, 2014)
Monty Python Live (Mostly) (tour/film, 2014)
Absolutely Anything (film, 2015)
Boom Bust Boom (documentary, 2015)
In Charlie Chaplin’s Footsteps (TV, 2015)
Jeepers Creepers (play, 2016)

If you are interested in contributing, message with the subject header THE LIVES OF TERRY.

James Gent is editor of We Are Cult, and co-editor with Jon Arnold of Me And The Starman. In 2014, James Gent wrote the biography for the official Monty Python website. He also acted as a consultant for the documentaries ‘Monty Python: And Now for Something Rather Similar’ (BBC) and ‘Monty Python: The Meaning of Live’ (GOLD).

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