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Terry Jones dies aged 77: 'Two down, four to go,' says John Cleese, leading the tributes

Terry Jones at a screening of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" at the Beacon Theatre on Friday, April 24, 2015, in New York.
Terry Jones at a screening of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" at the Beacon Theatre on Friday, April 24, 2015, in New York. Copyright Andy Kropa/Invision/APAndy Kropa
Copyright Andy Kropa/Invision/AP
By Jez Fielder
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From Oxford to Nazareth and beyond, we look at the life of the writer and historian.


Terry Jones, one of the stars of British comedy group Monty Python, has died aged 77.

His agent confirmed the news on Wednesday.

Born in Wales in 1942, Terence Graham Parry Jones was an actor, writer, director and academic.

His voice is behind one of the most memorable lines from a canon of infinitely quotable Monty Python phrases. "He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy!"

Jones met writing partner Michael Palin at Oxford where he was studying English (but cultivating an obsession with History) at St Edmund Hall. They were behind a number of comedy successes before creating Monty Python's Flying Circus with the Cambridge contingent of Eric Idle, John Cleese, and Graham Chapman, and American animator Terry Gilliam.

Jones co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with Gilliam, and subsequently directed later Python films, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life.

Life of Brian was incredibly controversial at the time of release in the late 70s, having to rebuff accusations of blasphemy and being generally offensive to those of a Christian faith. The Pythons denied such accusations, reminding people that the film was centred around Brian, and not Jesus.

Jones will also be remembered for being the embodiment of gluttony with his effusively disgusting portrayal of Mr Creosote in The Meaning of Life, where the character eats a seemingly never-ending meal while vomiting profusely and finally exploding.

As an academic, his sphere of interest was in Ancient and Medieval History, with a particular penchant for Middle English literary giant Geoffrey Chaucer. Jones was also lauded for his TV work and his Medieval Lives programme received a 2004 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming.

In terms of recent history, Jones had plenty to say on world conflict.

In an interview with The Observer in 2003 he labelled the "war on terrorism" a "ludicrous concept".

"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?"

Jones died from complications related to his dementia which had been diagnosed in 2015.

He leaves a wife, Anna, and three children.

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