They redefined comedy in the 1960s and films like ‘Life of Brian’ and ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ are amongst the best ever made.
But which of the BBC sketch troupe has earned the most cash?
(All figures from showbiz finance site celebritynetworth.com)
1. Terry Gilliam - £25.4million
The writer/director has a fairly modest combined box office haul of £137.5million for his films including ‘Twelve Monkeys’ and ‘Time Bandits’. But it’s the fact he’s had a 40-year career in the vastly-overpaid Hollywood movie industry which sends him to the top of our list.
That may well increase with the new TV adaptation of his 2005 film ‘The Brothers Grimm’, as well as his long-in-development project ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’, which finally looks like it will come to fruition for Amazon, starring Jack O’Connell and John Hurt.
While he’s never going to hit Spielberg levels of wealth, combine that with his Python residuals and private interests and he’s sitting pretty.
2. Michael Palin - £12.7million
A British national treasure, Palin’s bank balance is swollen from a number of different revenue streams, including TV presenting, book royalties and cash from appearing in movies like ‘A Fish Called Wanda’.
Not only that, but he’s been careful with his money, maintaining a simple existence in North London with his wife and family. No fleet of Ferraris for Michael.
He’s currently narrating the reboot of kids telly show ‘The Clangers’ (which will likely be sold around the world).
3. Eric Idle - £9.5 million
Most of Idle’s revenues come courtesy of his involvement in the genesis of ‘Spamalot’, the worldwide stage smash which continues to rake in the money. In fact, of all the Pythons, Idle is the most likely to carry on up this list because of the seemingly neverending success of the musical.
He also continues his musical noodlings off-stage, providing the main song for 2014’s ‘The Boxtrolls’, which grossed £69million worldwide.
4. Terry Jones - £9.5million
Jones has made a good living as a writer-director for TV and film – his latest is ‘Absolutely Anything’ starring Simon Pegg and Robin Williams in his final (voice only) role, which is out later in 2015.
Jones was certainly pleased with the announcement of the Python live shows, which took place at the O2 in London in July 2014, joking to an interviewer that he hoped it would help him pay off his mortgage.
Some of his money woes may have come from the fact he divorced his wife of more than 40 years and married a Swede over four decades his junior in 2012. The pair already had a young daughter who was born in 2009.
5. John Cleese - £6.3million
In many ways, this is a surprise, because in terms of box office, Cleese is king of the Pythons.
Not only did he feature in two Bond movies – ‘Die Another Day’ made £275m worldwide on its own – but he was also Nearly Headless Nick in the first two ‘Harry Potter’ adaptations, whose combined global haul is a little over a billion pounds. Oh – and then there was the ‘Shrek’ franchise too.
Add to that the fact he created one of the most successful sitcoms of all-time in ‘Fawlty Towers’ and you’d imagine he would be rolling in it.
But the 75-year-old has been vocal about the financial impact of his three divorces, even calling a series of live appearances ‘The Alimony Tour’.
As a result, poor old John comes in at fifth place.
6. Graham Chapman – N/A
…Just above Chapman, which isn’t much of a surprise considering the sixth Python died of cancer in 1989.
The best actor in the troupe and the lead in ‘Life of Brian’ and ‘Holy Grail’, Chapman moved to Los Angeles in his later years.
Having written and starred in the ill-fated 1983 comedy ‘Yellowbeard’, he also did American college tours and wrote a memoir.