Eric Idle

Eric Idle. His Life.

Based on actual events.

Eric Idle was born on March 29th 1943 in Harton Hospital, South Shields, County Durham, U.K. His mother was a nurse and his father was a Sergeant in the RAF who was killed hitch-hiking home on compassionate leave and died in Darlington Hospital on Christmas Eve 1945. As a young child he lived in Manchester, attended his first school St. George’s, Wallasey (Liverpool) and in 1950 was sent to The Royal School Wolverhampton where his education was paid for by the RAF Benevolent Fund. Leaving school in 1962 with 10 O levels, 3 A Levels and 1 S Level he was accepted by Pembroke College, Cambridge, to read English Literature, in which he took his B.A. in 1965.

From 1964/5 he was President of The Footlights Dramatic Club (founded in 1883) and changed the rules to accept women members, the first of whom was Germaine Greer. After touring with her in the annual Footlights Revue My Girl Herbert (1965) which ran for a brief time at The Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, he spent a season in Leicester Rep before moving to London, appearing in two BBC TV Movies: Jonathan Millers Alice in Wonderland, and Ken Russell’s Isadora, and then starting to write professionally for BBC Radio’s I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again and BBC Television’s The Frost Report, which won The Golden Rose of Montreux.

In 1968 he began writing and acting in two series of a children’s TV hit, Do Not Adjust Your Set, with Michael Palin Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, which won The Priz Jeunnesse, Munich for Best Children’s Television. The success of this show led to four series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus for the BBC from July 1969 through 1973, with the addition of John Cleese and Graham Chapman. Also in that month he married actress Lyn Ashley, by whom he had a son Carey (b. 1973). The Pythons made several stage appearances, Monty Python’s First Farewell Tour, (UK and Canada, 1973) Monty Python Live at Drury Lane (1974) Monty Python Live at City Center (1976), and several movies, And Now For Something Completely Different (1971), Monty Python and The Holy Grail (1975), The Life of Brian (1979), Monty Python Live at The Hollywood Bowl (1982) and The Meaning of Life (1983).

After Python he created Radio Five the first comedy music show on BBC’s Radio One. He then wrote and starred in two Series of Rutland Weekend Television (with Neil Innes) which led to writing and co-directing The Rutles, in All You Need is Cash, for NBC, produced by Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels, a show which he hosted four times in the 1970’s. In 2001 he made a sequel called “Can’t Buy Me Lunch” which looked back on the Rutles and their influence on people’s lives.

In 1975 he published Hello Sailor his first novel. His first play Pass The Butler was produced at The Globe Theatre, London 1983 where it ran for five months. In 1977 he met Tania Kosevich in New York, and married her there in 1981. They have one daughter, Lily (b. 1990.)

He has appeared in several films including Baron Munchausen, European Vacation, Yellowbeard, Nuns on the Run, Splitting Heirs, Casper, Wind in the Willows and has voiced Transformers, Shrek 3, South Park (the movie) and four episodes of The Simpsons. In 1986 he appeared as Koko in Jonathan Miller’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado at The English National Opera, a role he repeated at The Houston Grand Opera in 1989. In 1994 he moved to Los Angeles, where he currently resides.

Publications include The Rutland Dirty Weekend Book (1976) a children’s audio book The Quite Remarkable Adventures of the Owl and The Pussycat (1996) and two novels Hello Sailor (1975) and The Road to Mars (1999.) In 1978 he began collaborating with composer John Du Prez, writing and recording songs for Monty Python, the signature tune for One Foot in the Grave and a musical Behind The Crease for BBC Radio Four (1990.) In 1991 his song Always Look on the Bright Side became a hit single in the UK.

His collaboration with John Du Prez led to two live stage tours of North America (2000 and 2003) and a book The Greedy Bastard Diary which details life on the road for three months, fifteen thousand miles in a rock and roll bus. Their musical Spamalot, directed by Mike Nichols, opened in Chicago in December 2004 and then Broadway on March 17th 2005 at The Shubert Theater, where it ran until January 2009, breaking all house records, garnering $175 million at The Box Office, winning three Tonys (including Best Musical 2005) a Grammy for Best Broadway Album and a Writers Desk Award for Best Lyrics. It subsequently toured North America for three years, opened in the West End of London for two years at The Palace Theater, and played The Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas (2007), Melbourne (2007), Barcelona (2008), Cologne (2008), Madrid (2009), Hungary(2009), Paris(2010), Sweden (2010), South Korea (2010) Holland and Belgium and Mexico City (2011.) Spamalot is currently touring both the UK and the US. A comic Oratorio Not The Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy) based on Monty Python’s Life of Brian, written with John Du Prez “for Choir, Orchestra and Sheep”,premiered in Toronto (May 2006) conducted by his cousin Peter Oundjian. Subsequently it was lengthened and performed on tour in Australia and New Zealand, including two sell out nights at The Sydney Opera House, Wolf Trap (Washington), Houston and two nights at The Hollywood Bowl 2009 (with fireworks to the Galaxy Song) all conducted by John Du Prez. Idle appeared in all performances singing “Baritonish.” In October 2009 as part of the celebration of forty years of Monty Python it was performed and filmed at The Royal Albert Hall, London, with guest stars fellow Pythons Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and Terry Gilliam, plus Carol Cleveland and Neil Innes. It was released in HD DVD by Sony in 2010.

In 2009 at a special presentation in New York City Monty Python received a BAFTA lifetime achievement Award. He is apparently not yet dead, but his final words will probably be “Say No More.”