Entertainment & Arts

Monty Python extends stage show to five dates

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionIn an announcement about the show last week, Eric Idle said the audience should expect "comedy, pathos, music and a tiny piece of ancient sex"

The Monty Python stage show has been extended from one date to five, running from 1 to 5 July at London's O2 Arena.

The first show sold out within 43.5 seconds, organisers announced.

The other four shows then sold out within 55 minutes. There were 14,500 tickets up for grabs for each show.

Eric Idle said: "It's totally amazing. I don't think we realised quite how much Python is loved round the world. We look forward to paying off Terry Jones' mortgage soon."

Last week it was announced that John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Idle were to reunite and perform together.

It will be the first time the anarchic comedians have performed together since 2009, at their 40th anniversary celebrations in New York.

'Inflated prices'

However, several readers of the BBC News website stated that despite trying to buy tickets for the show announced last week, they were unable to, as many had been sold to "ticket marketplace" websites, which buy and sell live event tickets.

One reader said: "Within minutes of tickets going on sale (and 'selling out')" many marketplace websites "had thousands of tickets for sale at ridiculously inflated prices".

They added that that it was "one of the worst examples of rip-off Britain".

One marketplace website, viagogo, had Monty Python tickets for Saturday 5 July listed as ranging from £136.88 to £3,999 [at the time of writing].

Viagogo said in response to the BBC readers' comments: "Every now and again, a show will be so popular it sends ticket prices rocketing.

"This is one of those times, with demand for Monty Python's shows so high it is even outstripping demand for the Rolling Stones' 50th Anniversary concerts, with Viagogo recording over 30% more searches for the Monty Python shows than that seen in the same period for the Stones in 2012."

Spamalot case

The company added that just because a ticket is listed at a high price, it "doesn't mean it will sell at that price".

On viagogo, tickets are listed by sellers, who also set the prices. These can be less, the same as, or more than the original price of the ticket.

Earlier this year, a film producer won a High Court case against the surviving members of Monty Python over royalty rights to the hit stage show Spamalot.

Image caption The Ministry of Silly Walks is an iconic Monty Python's sketch

Mark Forstater, who produced the 1975 film Monty Python and The Holy Grail, claimed he was underpaid royalties since the musical's launch in 2005.

He estimated he was entitled to more than £200,000.

The six members of the team got to know each other firstly through university, and later through their work on television comedy programmes, including The Frost Report.

The Pythons' hugely successful, zany BBC TV series, Monty Python's Flying Circus, bucked the trend of traditional sketch writing, which used a punchline at the end of a sketch. Instead, the Pythons followed in the footsteps of Spike Milligan, allowing sketches to merge into each other or simply stop abruptly.

The first episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus was broadcast on 5 October, 1969.

It ran for four series and spawned spin-off records, books and even German-language specials.

Gilliam's unique animation style became a key element of the show, segueing seamlessly between any two completely unrelated ideas.

The comedy group made their successful film Monty Python and the Holy Grail on a small budget in between filming the third and fourth series of their TV show.

Their next film was the highly controversial Monty Python's Life Of Brian, released in 1979.

Telling the story of a man mistaken for Jesus, the film was attacked by Christian groups and banned in some areas.

Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life was released in 1983 and was another financial and critical success, winning the jury prize at Cannes film festival. The sixth member of the comedy troupe, Graham Chapman, died in 1989.

The surviving Pythons went on to forge successful solo careers while continuing to collaborate with each other.

Cleese famously co-wrote the hit BBC TV comedy series Fawlty Towers, which first ran in 1975, with Connie Booth, who had appeared in Monty Python's Flying Circus. He also wrote the hit comedy film A Fish Called Wanda in 1988, in which he starred with Palin.

Image caption Graham Chapman (top left) died in 1989

Gilliam pursued a film career, and his credits include 1981's Time Bandits, which he co-wrote with Palin, who starred in it alongside Cleese. Gilliam's futuristic 1981 fantasy film Brazil also featured Palin, while 1988's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, about the supposed travels of the baron, featured Idle.

Palin and Jones went on to write together, and Palin starred in their comic TV series Ripping Yarns, a collection of tales that make "ripping good" television.

Four Python members - Jones, Idle, Cleese and Palin - also appeared in Jones's 1996 adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's novel The Wind in the Willows.

Cleese's acting career has also included roles in Clockwise, two James Bond films and two Harry Potter films.

Palin has also starred in films including The Missionary and A Private Function and has of course made a huge name for himself with his award-winning travel documentaries.

Idle went on to create spoof Beatles band The Rutles and wrote the hit Spamalot musical.

He also performed Always Look on the Bright Side of Life at the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony in London.

Jones wrote the screenplay for the movie Labyrinth and he has also written and presented historical documentaries for TV.

Chapman did a lecture tour in the US and took on various film projects including The Odd Job and Yellowbeard before his death from cancer 24 years ago.

More on this story

Around the BBC