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Terry Jones Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (18) | Personal Quotes (28)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 1 February 1942Colwyn Bay, Wales, UK
Birth NameTerence Graham Perry Jones
Nickname Jonesy
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Terry Jones was born in Colwyn Bay, North Wales. His father was a bank clerk, mother - mistress of the house. He has an older brother, Nigel Jones (1940-). He studied at St. Edmund Hall College, Oxford University. In 1965, with his friend Michael Palin, he made The Late Show (1966) for television, which was his first success. Also, he wrote for many other TV shows, such as: The Kathy Kirby Show (1964), Late Night Line-Up (1964) (with Palin), Complete and Utter History of Britain (1969) (with Palin). But Jones' greatest success was the zany Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969) (1969-74) (with Palin, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Sidney Robert Loomis <sidloomis@yahoo.com>

Spouse (2)

Anna Söderström (2012 - present) (1 child)
Alison Telfer (20 June 1970 - 2012) (divorced) (2 children)

Trivia (18)

Children with Alison Telfer: Sally (b. 1974) and Bill (b. 1976).
Was the shortest member of the Monty Python comedy troupe, having been about an inch shorter than Terry Gilliam.
Has a mild speech impediment - he has trouble pronouncing the letter "r".
Has a degree in Modern History from Oxford University.
Supported a motion to impeach British Prime Minister Tony Blair after the war "Operation Iraqi Freedom".
Father was Welsh and his mother was English (Anglo-Saxon ancestry).
Has directed three of the four films that have been banned in Ireland (Most notably, Life of Brian (1979) and The Meaning of Life (1983)).
He attended Royal Grammar School in Guilford, where he was Head Boy, and graduated from St. Edmond Hall at Oxford.
Was diagnosed with bowel cancer in the early stages. [October 2006].
Member of Monty Python along with John Cleese, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam.
Born in the same town as actor Timothy Dalton.
Younger brother of Nigel Jones.
Co-wrote an opera, with Luis Tinoco, that premiered in Lisbon, Portugal on January 12, 2008. Jones turned his collection of short stories into a libretto for the production, which he is also directing. It is about machines trying to take over the world and involves cars, motorbikes, washers, dryers, parking meters and gigantic vacuum cleaners, all singing opera on stage. [January 2008]
Has a daughter, Siri (born 2009) with Anna Söderström.
Knew Eric Idle and Michael Palin from university.
Diagnosed of primary progressive aphasia. [September 2016]
Wrote and acted for Oxford's equivalent of the Cambridge Footlights.
Has been diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a type of dementia. This disease erodes the brains ability to use language and eventually speech becomes impossible.

Personal Quotes (28)

[on the death of Graham Chapman, who died on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the "Monty Python" comedy troupe]: I thought it was in terribly bad taste for him to die when he did. The worst case of party-pooping I've ever seen.
The problem with the media is [news organizations] are primarily owned by corporations, and corporations are pro-establishment... Newspapers and television start using the vocabulary of politicians, and that's the way bias creeps in.
Comedy is a dangerous business. If people find something funny you're okay. But the moment you do something that's meant to be funny and someone doesn't find it funny, they become angry. It's almost as if they resent the fact that you tried to make them laugh and failed. Nobody comes out of a mediocre performance of Hamlet seething with rage because it didn't make them cry. But just listen to people coming out of a comedy that didn't make them laugh.
(On being recognised as a "famous face"): "In a way it makes the world smaller, it makes it like a village. It's really how I felt the world always ought to be, where you feel you know people and people are interested in you. So, it's like a retreat into childhood really, where when you're a baby everybody's interested in you and it's rather the same thing."
One of the things we tried to do with the show was to try and do something that was so unpredictable that it had no shape and you could never say what the kind of humor was. And I think that the fact that "Pythonesque" is now a word in the Oxford English Dictionary shows the extent to which we failed.
[on Graham Chapman] I think Graham was a bit of a mystery to anyone who knew and worked with him. I don't think we ever felt like we knew him. We knew he was capable of flashes of genius, but he was an enigma. So much of Graham was a pose. He was always acting and always going for the laughs.
[on the first episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969)] We had an audience of old-age pensioners who thought they were coming in to see a circus. Graham and I were doing the first sketch - the flying sheep sketch - and there was not a lot of reaction to it. Just bewildered pensioners. We were also terrified that nobody would laugh when we did Holy Grail. We showed it to an audience of investors. They laughed for the first five minutes, then absolute silence for the whole rest of the film. It was one of the worst nights.
Saying 'We will destroy terrorism' is about as meaningful as saying 'We shall annihilate mockery.'
Why do I feel so exercised about what we think of the people of the Middle Ages? I guess it's because so many of their voices are ringing vibrantly in my ears - Chaucer's, Boccaccio's, Henry Knighton's, Thomas Walsingham's, Froissart's, Jean Creton's... writers and contemporary historians of the period who seem to me just as individual, just as alive as we are today. We need to get to know these folk better in order to know who we are ourselves.
Ludicrous concepts...like the whole idea of a 'war on terrorism.' You can wage war against another country, or on a national group within your own country, but you can't wage war on an abstract noun. How do you know when you've won? When you've got it removed from the Oxford English Dictionary?
[on Robin Williams] Above all, what I remember about Robin was his humility. He could be funny as no one else could be funny - like he had another monumental voice telling him to be funny - let it rip! He could have had a huge ego. But he didn't.
I only ever threw a chair at John [Cleese] once... I think.
My first school was Esher Church of England Primary School. The headmistress was - to my slight concern - a 'Miss Terry', but I quickly realised there was nothing significant about this.
[on meeting his father, who had been away in the RAF, for the first time at age 4] Eventually all these people flood off the platform and now my mum's getting anxious because he might not be on the train ... but suddenly there's a figure at the far end of the platform in RAF uniform with a forage cap on his head and a kit bag slung over his shoulder. That's him! We run up and it's all hugs and kisses ... but I'm not so sure, and when I'm finally picked up and kissed by this strange man I'm definitely off the whole idea! Wait a minute! He's got a 'strange and prickly moustache' (as I describe it in one of my later seven-year-old essays). This isn't in the bargain. I'm used to being kissed by women. Moustaches aren't my cup of tea at all.
Apart from going back to Colwyn Bay in the early years to stay with La-La [his grandmother] when she was alive, the nearest we ever got to a holiday was a day's coach trip to Worthing. I remember writing a school essay when I was seven about Christmas and saying that I was going to give my dad some new underwear because 'his was all in tatters' - an expression I must have got off my poor mum, who probably never lived down the public humiliations of her son's shock-horror revelations in his school work. Another school essay I wrote when I was seven mapped out my future in no uncertain terms. I wrote: 'I am hopping to be an actor.' Well, I'm still hopping. But whatever I wrote in my essay, I knew really that I wanted to write. I'd never had any particular interest in comedy. Humour was just something that came with everything as far as my brother and I were concerned. Why should you ban laughter from any aspect of life?
I applied to Oxford and Cambridge and by a stroke of bad luck was eventually offered places at both universities. I'd done so badly at A Level (owing to misreading the exam paper) that not a single provincial university would even look at me. Nowadays I wouldn't have got into university at all. But in those days Oxford and Cambridge had their own exams and systems and I got in under the net. I really wanted to go and study modern poetry at Cambridge, but St Edmund Hall, Oxford, offered me a place and I accepted. A week later Gonville and Caius, Cambridge, who had put me on a waiting list, offered me a place. The Royal Grammar School said I couldn't change because it might put them in bad odour with Oxford. I thought, well, what do I know? I think I want to go to Cambridge but who knows really? In the end I decided to stick with Oxford. Lucky, really, looking back on it. If I'd gone to Cambridge I'd never have joined the Footlights (too organised for me) and so I'd never have done any revue or comedy. Also I wouldn't have met either Mike Palin [Michael Palin or Geoffrey Chaucer - and without those two meetings the rest of my life would have been quite different.
My elder brother, Nigel, was my guru in all things cultural. He formed my tastes. Told me what I could listen to and what I should avoid. Taught me about the wonders of Traditional Jazz and the evil snares of modern Big Band music, which lacked any sort of improvisation. Popular songs he scorned with a deep and sincere disrespect. I didn't dare let him catch me humming 'Pyramids Along The Nile' or 'How Much Is That Doggy In The Window'. The only time he cracked was when he took a liking to Kay Starr, and then suddenly I was allowed a certain limited repertoire of pop music. Otherwise I was to stick to Bessie Smith, Ottilie Patterson and Muddy Waters. One day he announced, to my consternation, that I was going to have to listen to a radio drama that was going on that very night and would last for an hour and a half. I was slightly won over by the fact that it was written by a Welshman and it was about life in Wales. And so that evening we sat in the dining room - well I crawled under the dining-room table - to listen to the first performance of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, narrated by Richard Burton. I don't think I realised at the time what a tremendous influence Dylan Thomas was going to have on me and on my whole attitude to poetry. I think I gave up in the end because how could I ever write stuff as magical as he had.
I went up to Oxford ready to be intimidated by everything and everybody. I expected everyone to be incredibly clever and incredibly high-faluting. In a way it was a lesson in how things aren't what you expect them to be. I don't remember being very happy there either. I wasn't really used to people being *that* competitive. The first two years were like that but by the third year you're top of the pile anyway and I'd done this revue at the Phoenix Theatre in London. So when I came back, I and others had been on the West End stage, and suddenly I was in demand.
I guess life changed when my dad arrived home. A certain amount of tension entered the family life and I started to hear stern words for the first time in my life. I realise now that it must have been terrible for him; he'd been shipped off to India and missed his family growing up at the most important stage. He'd left behind a two-year-old and a one-week-old baby and arrived back to find a four and a half-year-old and a six-year-old. And his youngest son doesn't really want much to do with this stranger - doesn't like him kissing him even! Must have been hard. And I suppose the truth is that subconsciously I regarded him as a bit of an intruder ... or an outsider. I suppose I also knew - deep down - that he couldn't reach me at all, except that I felt sorry for him. I had bonded with my mum so strongly that no relationship could ever be as real as that for me. Poor dad. I learned later in life that he was a caring, gentle, humorous man, just like he appeared in those photos, but something was wrong when he came home. Maybe he and mum couldn't re-find whatever it was they had in the first place. Maybe mum resented his return. I don't really know. But whatever it was, it turned him into a small home tyrant, who could only communicate with us boys by telling us off or yelling at us.
I remember having lunch with Graham [Chapman] once and having nothing to say really. That was always my feeling with Graham. He was on a different planet, a wonderful mystery, Graham in his own world.
My dad, Alick, was Welsh although he was born in Streatham. He was living in Ruthin and working as a bank clerk in Denbigh. I'm not sure how he met my mum - it was the kind of thing that wasn't really talked about in those days - but she was living with her parents in Colwyn Bay.
I seemed to take the 11-plus exam in my stride, although I thought I'd really failed because I didn't get into my first choice: King's College, Wimbledon. That was a public school and they'd been hoping I'd win a scholarship there but I didn't. So I found myself going to the Royal Grammar School, Guildford.
[on why Eric Idle had no involvement in the film adaption of A Liar's Autobiography] He's pissed at us [other Monty Python members].
I can actually remember my first joke. We were in Colwyn Bay so I guess it must have happened before I was four. We were sitting round the table in 'Bodhwyl' (as our house was called - 'House-in-A-Whirl' my mother used to say). I guess we were having what was known as 'High Tea'. We'd just had our pudding and La-La asked if anyone wanted seconds of custard. Suddenly my three- or four-year-old mind saw the opportunity for a bit of humour. So I raised my hand but instead of passing up my plate, I passed up my table mat. I watched with bated breath in delighted disbelief as the joke went like clockwork. I'd expected someone who passed the mat on to notice what they were passing but no one did. Then La-La [his grandmother] plunged the ladle into the custard and - bliss! - ladled out a good dollop of custard onto the mat. Well! I sat back and waited for the laughter and applause. A career in showbiz suddenly opened up ahead of me. I saw my name in lights on the London Palladium ... Well, I would have done if I'd ever heard of the London Palladium. But then it all seemed to go wrong. Instead of the laughter and the applause, all I heard was a chorus of abuse: 'You stupid boy! What did you do that for? Look what you've done!' Nobody turned on my gran and said, 'Why don't you look where you're pouring the custard!' or on the person in between who'd passed the mat along.
Huw Weldon, who was in control of BBC1, and David Attenborough, who was in control of BBC2 in the late 1960s, were both very enlightened men. I remember them saying that the BBC was very much an anarchic organisation in a way, in that there was very little bureaucracy, very little personnel management. This tiny office was the personnel management, which I now think is a whole building! In those days, the producers decided what was going to go on the air and they took responsibility for it. If somebody objected to something that had gone out, then the producer would be asked to account for himself. But it was all after the fact; there was no censorship at all. Things changed. We started seeing it changing in Python. With the first and second series, nobody ever looked at the shows or anything until they went out. In the last episode, we had the 'Undertaker Sketch', which was a gross breach of good taste! And then with the next series, they wanted to look at the shows before they went out. That was when we got the list of things we had to take out. One of them was the 'Summarised Marcel Proust Competition', somebody saying his hobbies were 'strangling animals, golf, and masturbating'. And we had to cut out 'masturbating'! Very bizarre. I remember going to Duncan Wood - he was then head of comedy - and I said, 'Duncan, what's wrong with masturbating? I masturbate, you masturbate, don't you, Duncan?' Anyways, it had to come out.
[on himself as a child] In those days I suppose I had a secret life. It was somewhere inside my head. My gran had got me reading poetry - 'The Brook' - by the mysteriously named Alfred Lord Tennyson. And I was pretty much into writing poetry. I knew that's what I was going to be. A poet. Simple. I had a role in life already. That made everything much easier. Actually I suppose I didn't mind what I made so long as I was able to make something. It could have been poetry or it could have been writing novels if I'd known about such things - or making chairs. If anyone asked me what I was going to do when I grew up, I'd reply, 'Something creative'. Little clever-dick.
A few months after my dad turned up on the scene there was another major disruption in my life: we moved from North Wales down to the Home Counties to a place called Claygate - right in the heart of stockbroker Surrey, on the very fringe of the London suburbs. It was for me a small disaster. The home in Old Colwyn was the only one I'd known, and now where was I? Where had the seaside gone? The Pier? The Prom? Where was Fairy Glen? Where was the Donkey Path or the Golf Links? The only bright spot in this new place seemed to be a brass coal scuttle that had eighteenth-century coaching scenes stamped on the lid. I spent the next twenty years insisting that I was Welsh and that I didn't fit in where I now found myself. I never felt I belonged there. The whole period of living in Claygate, from five to nineteen, was like an interruption to real life.
I really wanted to write, but in those days that wasn't at all the sort of thing a grammar school could encourage. Primary school had been quite different, and they'd really taken an interest in my poetry, but the grammar school took the attitude that you can't ever make a living out of writing so stop thinking about it. The best you can hope for is to become a teacher. There was one master, Mr Martin, who encouraged me; he used to read my essays out to the class, and that really helped me get through - feeling somebody appreciated the kind of things I wrote. But otherwise I had a feeling that grammar school was like being fitted out with a straightjacket. It certainly fitted and was very practical but you couldn't expect to do anything in it.

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