Terry Jones, one of the stars of the Monty Python films and TV series, has died.
A statement from his family said, “We are deeply saddened to have to announce the passing of beloved husband and father, Terry Jones.”
In 2015, Jones was diagnosed with a form of dementia called primary progressive aphasia, which affected his ability to speak.
Long time friend and fellow Monty Python star Sir Michael Palin described Jones as “one of the funniest writer-performers of his generation”.
He died with his wife Anna Söderström by his side after “a long, extremely brave but always good humoured battle with a rare form of dementia, FTD.”
Life before Monty Python
Jones was born in Colwyn Bay, Wales, in 1942. He and his family moved to Surrey four years later, and Jones went on to attend the Royal Grammar School in Guildford.
While studying English, and later history at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, Jones met and performed with his future Python castmate Michael Palin, who described him as someone with “no airs and graces”.
After graduating with a 2:1, Jones’s comedy career led to him writing for, and performing in, some of the most famous TV shows of the late 60s, including Do Not Adjust Your Set, and The Frost Report.
In 1970, Jones married Alison Telfer and established an open relationship. Telfer and Jones had two children together. In 2009, the couple divorced, and Jones married Anna Söderström, with whom he had a third child.
Monty Python years
Jones was a founding member of the Monty Python comedy group, alongside Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, and his old university friend Michael Palin.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which ran on the BBC for four series between 1969 and 1974, is widely regarded as one of the most influential sketch shows in history.
Once considered shocking and outrageous, The Flying Circus series are now considered such an integral part of British culture that questions about some of its most famous sketches are included in UK citizenship tests.
After the success of the TV show, Jones and his Monty Python co-stars began producing films, starting with And Now For Something Completely Different, in 1971.
Jones proved himself as a skilled artist behind, as well as in front of, the camera – going on to direct Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.
Jones was also a prolific screenwriter and novelist, producing an early draft of the script for the Jim Henson film Labyrinth, as well as The Wind in the Willows in 1996.
He was also a well-respected historical writer and medievalist, publishing books on Chaucer, and presenting documentaries like Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives – on the overlooked sophistication of Middle Age societies.