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Monty Python reunite for one-off show at O2 arena

The surviving members of the comedy troupe will perform for one night only on 1 July 2014

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Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and John Cleese at today's conference
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

The five surviving members of Monty Python will reunite for a one-off stage show on 1 July 2014 at the O2 Arena.

Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and John Cleese announced the show at a press conference at the Playhouse Theatre this morning (20 November 2013), which was hosted by Warwick Davis.

Tickets for the live show, which marks the first reunion of all five surviving members in 40 years, will go on sale on 25 November, priced between £27.50 and £90.

"We're all trying to pay for Terry Jones' mortgage," joked Michael Palin, when asked why they'd chosen to reunite for the first time in 33 years.

"We just thought it would be fun to try and see if we're still funny," added Eric Idle, who wrote the musical Spamalot that is currently running at the Playhouse. "Our intention is to just do the O2 and see if we can fill it."

Idle said to expect "music, comedy and a tiny bit of ancient sex", with Cleese adding that there would be a mixture of old and new material.

The team have ambitions to tour the show if it goes well, and Idle revealed that it would be filmed, with the team "flogging it afterwards".

'We don't really like each other'

Monty Python Live marks the first time the group have performed together since appearing at the Hollywood Bowl on 15 September 1980.

"We laugh more when we have dinner together than we do at any other time in our lives," said Cleese, whose solo projects include much-loved sitcom Fawlty Towers and, more recently, his Alimony Tour.

Terry Gilliam, who will create new animations for the live show, added: "We don't really like each other so it's very hard to get together but then when we do, it's rather surprising. We may not like each other but somehow we're very funny together."

Monty Python Live will be directed by Eric Idle, with choreography from Arlene Phillips. It will also feature an appearance from Carol Cleveland, the only major female performer on Monty Python's Flying Circus.

The Pythons with Carol Cleveland
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

After rising to fame through their TV series Monty Python's Flying Circus, the group went on to make the films Monty Python and the Holy Grail (the basis for Spamalot), The Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life.

Idle's Life of Brian musical adaptation Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy) - billed as "like Handel only funnier" - was remounted at the Royal Albert Hall in 2009 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first Monty Python broadcast.

The material for the O2 show is billed as "some of Monty Python's greatest hits with modern, topical, Pythonesque twists."

John Cleese recalled attending a Neil Diamond concert where he got "booed" for singing new material. "People really do want to see the old bits but we don't want to do them in a predictable way," he added.

"We'll be doing material we've never done live on stage before," said Idle. And as for the more familiar sketches, such as the Dead Parrot or Ministry of Silly Walks? "We're hoping people will have forgotten, so they'll appear new," he said with chuckle.

More information about Monty Python Live, which has the tagline 'one down, five to go' in reference to sixth Python Graham Chapman who died in 1989, can be found on its website.