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Terence Graham Parry Jones (1 February 1942 – 21 January 2020) was a British comedian, screenwriter and actor, film director, children's author, popular historian, political commentator and TV documentary host. He was best known as a member of the Monty Python comedy team.

Jones was educated at the Royal Grammar School in Guildford, where he was head boy; he graduated in English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. While there he performed comedy with Michael Palin, among others, in the Oxford Revue. On 21 October 2006 it was reported in the British newspaper, The Daily Mirror, that Jones had been diagnosed with bowel cancer.[1] Another article dated 24 October, also by The Mirror, indicated that the exploratory surgery performed on Jones had good results.[2] Jones was married twice and had three children.

Career History[]

Before Python[]

He appeared in Twice a Fortnight with Michael Palin, Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Jonathan Lynn, as well as in The Complete and Utter History of Britain. He also appeared in Do Not Adjust Your Set with Michael Palin, Eric Idle and David Jason (Jones speaks about this series during an interview which appears on both the Do Not Adjust Your Set DVD and the At Last the 1948 Show DVD). He wrote for The Frost Report and several other of David Frost's programmes on British television.

Monty Python[]

He was a member of Monty Python, the team of writers and performers that made Monty Python's Flying Circus. As a Python, Jones is remembered for his roles as middle-aged women and the bowler-hatted "man in the street". His character Mr. Creosote, from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, has become practically iconic. One of Jones' major concerns was devising a fresh format for the Python TV shows, devising a stream-of-consciousness style which abandoned punchlines and instead encouraged the fluid movement of one sketch to another and the cross-referencing of jokes. This allowed the team's conceptual humour and one-line ideas room to realise their full potential, which conventional formulas would arguably compromise. Jones also objected to TV directors' use of speeded-up film, over-emphatic music, and static camera style.

Directorial work[]

Jones co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Terry Gilliam, and was sole director on two further Monty Python movies, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. As a film director, Jones finally gained fuller control of the projects and devised a visual style that complemented the humour and, once again, concentrated on allowing the performers room to breathe, for instance, in the use of wide shots for long exchanges of dialogue, and more economical use of music. His methods encouraged many future television comedians to break away from slapstick or studio-bound shooting styles, as demonstrated by Green Wing and The League of Gentlemen. He directed further films, including Erik the Viking (1989) and The Wind in the Willows (1996).

As an author[]

He co-wrote Ripping Yarns with Michael Palin, and wrote the screenplay for Labyrinth (1986), although his draft went through several rewrites and several other writers before being filmed, with the result that much of what appears in the film wasn't written by Jones at all. He has also written numerous works for children, including Fantastic Stories and The Beast with a Thousand Teeth.

He has written books and presented television documentaries on medieval and ancient history and the history of numeral systems. His series often challenge popularly-held views of history: for example, Terry Jones' Medieval Lives (2004) argues that the Middle Ages was a more sophisticated period than is popularly thought, and Terry Jones' Barbarians (2006) presents the cultural achievements of peoples conquered by the Roman Empire in a more positive light than Roman historians typically have.

He has written numerous editorials condemning the Iraq war for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Observer. Many of these editorials were published in a paperback collection titled Terry Jones's War on the War on Terror.

Chaucer's Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary (1980) offers an alternative take on the historical view of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Knight's Tale as being a paragon of Christian virtue. Jones asserts that, after closer examination of historical rather than literary context, The Knight is actually a typical mercenary and a potentially cold blooded killer.

Selected bibliography[]


  • Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic (1997), ISBN 0-330-35446-9 – a novel based on the computer game of the same name by Douglas Adams (Jones claims to have written the entire book while in the nude)

Illustrated by Michael Foreman[]

Illustrated by Brian Froud[]


With Alan Ereira[]


  • Secrets (1973) – for TV, with Michael Palin
  • Labyrinth (1986)
  • Erik the Viking (1989) – includes a notice in the credits specifically disclaiming any link with Jones's earlier novel ("although he hopes it will help the sales")
  • The Wind in the Willows (1996)

Documentary series[]

  • Crusades (1995)
  • Ancient Inventions (1998)
  • The Surprising History of Egypt (2002) a.k.a. The Hidden History of Egypt (2003)/The Surprising History of Rome (2002) a.k.a. The Hidden History of Rome (2003)/The Surprising History of Sex and Love (2002)
  • Terry Jones' Medieval Lives (2004)
  • The Story of 1 (2005)
  • Terry Jones' Barbarians (2006)
  • Terry Jones' Great Map Mystery (2008)

Political articles[]


  • An asteroid, 9622 Terryjones, is named in his honour. When asked during a webchat if this was the greatest honour he has received, Jones replied, "I didn't realise it was an honour to have a barren lump of rock named after one." The five other Pythons have asteroids named after themselves as well.

Further reading[]


  1. Template:Citeweb
  2. Template:Citeweb

External links[]

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