Wales

Monty Python's Terry Jones and his Welsh roots

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Media captionBill and father Terry Jones at the Baftas in Cardiff

It was fitting that Terry Jones's last public appearance was to receive an outstanding contribution to television and film award from Bafta Cymru back in Wales.

Accompanied by his son Bill, he was given a standing ovation in Cardiff after being presented with the award by Monty Python co-star Michael Palin in October 2016.

It was only a few weeks after he announced he had a severe variant of dementia.

The actor, director, writer and popular historian - born in Colwyn Bay in February 1942 - always had his heart in Wales, despite leaving as a boy.

In later life, Jones took a keen interest in the fortunes of his home town's Victorian theatre, becoming its patron and officially re-opened Theatr Colwyn in 2011 after a £738,000 refurbishment.

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Image caption Terry Jones was supported by his friend and Monty Python co-star Michael Palin at the Bafta Cymru awards

He said: "Theatr Colwyn means a lot to me because my grandfather [William Newnes] conducted the orchestra for the Colwyn Bay Operatic Society there and my mother and uncle both trod the boards on that very stage.

"This is a beautiful theatre, the oldest working cinema in the UK - it's an important thing to have in a community like this, you need a centre, a place for people to go."

Thanks to a BBC Wales programme, he traced his family back on his father's side to 1760, with ancestors working in lead mines and his great-grandmother a servant for the Mostyn family. His great-grandfather was a Methodist minister.

Jones's wartime memories included being taken to a field near the family home in Dolwen Road during the war by his brother.

"He told me that a bear lived in the brook at the end of it so I ran home and didn't dare go back," he said. "I can also remember the thrill of seeing a tank driving up the road with these enormous searchlights."

He met his father - a bank clerk - for the first time on the platform of Colwyn Bay railway station when he returned from India after serving with the RAF during World War Two.

He said he always felt "very Welsh" despite his mother being from Bolton and his parents moving to Claygate in Surrey when he was five years old.

"I bitterly didn't want to leave and hated being transported to the London suburbs," he recalled. "I always regretted that and was always saying 'I'm Welsh'."

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Image caption The Python team: Terry Jones (left) Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and John Cleese

Jones's work was not always appreciated in every part of Wales. Monty Python's Life Of Brian - the controversial 1979 film which Jones directed and appeared in - was banned in some towns over claims it was blasphemous for its parody of the life of Jesus Christ.

Jones called it "excellent publicity".

"I think it's popular because it is banned - that's the real reason. But it's wonderful to see it is popular," he added.

Jones and Palin attended a special 30th anniversary charity screening of the film in Aberystwyth - where it wasn't shown until 1981 - when the town's mayor was Sue Jones-Davies, who played Brian's girlfriend.

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Image caption "Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more" - Terry Jones and Eric Idle reprise a Python sketch live in London in 2014

No problem with his 1981 children's book Fairy Tales, which was adapted for the stage as Silly Kings by National Theatre Wales in 2013.

Accompanying him to the Bafta Cymru ceremony for a final public farewell and acclaim, Palin - a friend since their Oxford University days - said Jones was "very Welsh in his attitudes, his passion, his energy and inventiveness".

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