TV Trends: Monty Python's The Meaning Of Live Comes To Gold, But Guess The Most Popular Python!

Michael Palin recently told HuffPostUK, "Every other aspect of Python life is contentious or complicated, but being on stage, doing the comedy, we love doing that. And they're the best people to play comedy with, so I'm really looking forward to that."

And he looked back on the bizarrely enduring comedy, quoted in some of the highest chambers in the land. "I don't know why 'Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition' should be funny. I don't know why Margaret Thatcher got such a laugh in parliament when she likened the Liberal Party to a dead parrot, but there we are. Something clicked."

Television Programmes - Monty Python's Flying Circus - 1973

Monty Python Over The Years

And there we are, half a century after this group of chaps got together and caught a wave that, for whatever reason, it caught a wave that has been flowing ever since.

John Cleese describes Monty Python - himself, Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones (Graham Chapman died in 1989) - as being a group of grumpy, competitive, old men and, to be sure, they've got a lot to be competitive about, with each of them - Beatles-style - heading off and proving themselves in vastly different fields.

But if Cleese can barely raise a smile these days - the various complaints of record-breaking alimony bills and aching shoulders distracting him - he can rest easy that, according to social media at least, he remains by far the most popular, discussed and analysed of all the Pythons.

The Pythons have said that's it, no more touring, too hard on the old bones

As well as being the most physically distinctive of the posse, in a way - the only way - that could translate the humour of the Ministry of Silly Walks - he found enough success to prove Python wasn't a fluke, with 'A Fish Called Wanda', and the 12 perfect episodes of 'Fawlty Towers'.

So memorable is John Cleese in his various incarnations that, despite being absent from British shores for two decades or more, he has come out on top in a recent poll to find the nation's most influential comic. Cleese beat the likes of David Jason, Rowan Atkinson, Ronnie Barker and Ricky Gervais to clinch the top spot.

Behind in the Python popularity list comes, unsurprisingly, Palin, the familiar face often tagged "the nicest man in Britain".

“Nice is a bit vacuous,” he protests, when pressed on where this priceless branding comes from. “Most people I know are quite nice, until they go a bit spare if they get knocked off a bicycle or something."

Comedy, drama, writing and, above all, travel, have all defined him, while Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle both enjoy separate fan bases for their extremely eclectic film and art projects. Meanwhile, Terry Jones has, meanwhile, been able to indulge his huge love of history and poetry, while participating in various TV and film projects.

And what generally happens when popular individuals get back together? There's a tsunami of affection - as experienced by the Pythons when they announced their reunion tour in London this summer, and which robustly withstood many of the critics' barbs about the dated humour in the shows.

"Provided we don't fall off the stage or go into a coma half-way through, they'll think they've got their money's worth," said Palin of the huge and expectant fanbase. "But that enthusiasm, we have to pay it back in the way we perform, the way we put it together."

Despite the live shows, it seems that fans are actually more interested in two other examples of the troupe's tireless ingenuity. Despite the popularity of 'The Secret Policemen's Ball', 'And Now For Something Completely Different', even 'The Meaning of Life', turns out there are two staples, generally for hungover Sunday afternoons, of which fans simply cannot get enough... 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' and, thanks to Graham Chapman, 'The Life of Brian'. Which means, if ever the Pythons are feeling unloved, unremembered, irrelevant, they can just start whistling…

'The Meaning of Live' airs tonight at 9pm on Gold, a Freeview channel. All TV trends data referred to in this article has been supplied by Virgin Media, which provides access to up to 260+ channels including Freeview Channels, Virgin Movies, Sky Movies and Netflix.

Before You Go