Terry Jones, 5 May 2007
1 February 1942 |
Colwyn Bay, Wales.
|Alma mater||Oxford University|
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, film director, presenter, poet, writer, historian|
|Known for||Monty Python|
Terence Graham Parry Jones (born 1 February 1942) is a British comedian, screenwriter, actor, film director, author, political commentator, and TV host. He is best known as a member of the Monty Python comedy team.
Early life 
Jones was born in the seaside town of Colwyn Bay, on the north coast of Wales. The family home was named Bodchwil. His father was stationed with the RAF in India. When Jones was four-and-a-half, the family moved to Surrey in England.
Jones was educated at the Royal Grammar School in Guildford, where he was head boy in the 1960-61 academic year. He read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, but "strayed into history". He graduated with a 2:1. While there, he performed comedy with future Monty Python castmate Michael Palin in The Oxford Revue.
Career history 
Before Python 
Jones appeared in Twice a Fortnight with Michael Palin, Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Jonathan Lynn, as well as the television series The Complete and Utter History of Britain (1969). He appeared in Do Not Adjust Your Set (1967–69) with Palin, Eric Idle and David Jason. He wrote for The Frost Report and several other David Frost programmes on British television. Along with Palin, he wrote lyrics for the 1968 Barry Booth album "Diversions".
Early on, Jones was interested in devising a fresh format for the Python TV shows, and it was largely he who developed the stream-of-consciousness style which abandoned punchlines and encouraged the fluid movement of one sketch into another, allowing the troupe's conceptual humour the space to “breathe”. Jones took a keen interest in the direction of the show. As demonstrated in many of his sketches with Palin, Jones was interested in making comedy that was visually impressive, feeling that interesting settings augmented, rather than detracted from, the humour. His methods encouraged many future television comedians to break away from conventional studio-bound shooting styles, as demonstrated by shows such as Green Wing, Little Britain and The League of Gentlemen.
Of Jones' contributions as a performer, his depictions of middle-aged women are among the most memorable. His humour, in collaboration with Palin, tends to be conceptual in nature. A typical Palin/Jones sketch draws its humour from the absurdity of the scenario. For example, in the “Summarise Proust Competition”, Jones plays a cheesy game show host who gives contestants 15 seconds to condense Marcel Proust's lengthy work À la recherche du temps perdu. Jones was also noted for his gifts as a Chaplinesque physical comedian. His performance in the "Undressing in Public" sketch, for instance, is done in total silence.
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 Monty Python's 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. His later films include Erik the Viking (1989) and The Wind in the Willows (1996). In 2008, Jones wrote and directed an opera titled Evil Machines. In 2011, he was commissioned to direct and write the libretto for another opera, entitled The Doctor's Tale.
On the commentary track of the 2004 "2 Disc Special Edition" DVD for the film Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Terry Jones stated that to his knowledge Ireland had banned only four movies, three of which he had directed: The Meaning of Life, Monty Python's Life of Brian and Personal Services.
He was the creator and co-producer of the animated television program Blazing Dragons, which ran for two seasons. Set in a fantasy medieval setting, the series' protagonists are dragons who are beset by evil humans, reversing a common story convention. When the series was broadcast on US television, several episodes were censored due to minor cursing and the implied sexuality of an overtly effeminate character named "Sir Blaze". It was turned into a game for the Sega Saturn in 1994, which starred Jones's voice.
He co-wrote Ripping Yarns with Palin, and wrote the screenplay for Labyrinth (1986), although his draft went through several rewrites and several other writers before being filmed; much of the finished film wasn't written by Jones at all. He has also written numerous works for children, including Fantastic Stories, The Beast with a Thousand Teeth, and a collection of Comic Verse called The Curse of the Vampire's Socks.
He has written books and presented television documentaries on medieval and ancient history and the history of numeral systems. His series often challenge popular views of history: for example, Terry Jones' Medieval Lives (2004) (for which he received a 2004 Emmy nomination for "Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming") 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, while criticizing the Romans as the true "barbarians" who exploited and destroyed higher civilizations.
He has written numerous editorials for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Observer condemning the Iraq war. 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.
His most recent book, Evil Machines, was launched by the online publishing house Unbound at the Adam Street Club in London on 4 November 2011. Evil Machines is the first book to be published by a crowd funding website dedicated solely to books. Jones provided significant support to Unbound as they developed their publishing concept.
He is also a member of the UK Poetry Society, and his poems have appeared in Poetry Review.
Working with musicians 
Jones has performed with The Carnival Band and appears on their 2007 CD Ringing the changes (Park Records PRKCD98).
In January 2008, the Teatro São Luiz, in Lisbon, Portugal, premiered Evil Machines – a musical play, written by Jones (based on his book) and with original music by Portuguese composer Luis Tinoco. Jones was invited by the Teatro São Luiz to write and direct the play, after a very successful run of Contos Fantásticos, a short play based on Jones' Fantastic Stories, also with music by Luis Tinoco.
As performer 
Apart from a cameo in Terry Gilliam's Jabberwocky and a memorable minor role as a drunken vicar in BBC sitcom The Young Ones, Jones has rarely appeared in work outside of his own projects. Since January 2009, however, he has provided narration for The Legend of Dick and Dom, a CBBC fantasy series set in the Middle Ages.
Personal life 
Jones married Alison Telfer in 1970, and they have two children together, Sally (born in 1974), and Bill (born in 1976). The marriage broke down after he admitted to falling in love with 26-year-old student Anna Söderström.
On 21 October 2006, it was reported in The Daily Mirror that Jones had been diagnosed with bowel cancer. Another article dated three days later, also by The Mirror, indicated that the exploratory surgery performed on Jones had good results. It was reported in the British media on 27 April 2009 that Jones was due to become a father for the third time in autumn 2009, by way of Söderström. But he remained married to Telfer. Jones's daughter Siri was born in early September 2009.
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.)
- Evil Machines (2011), ISBN 978-1-908717-01-6
- Illustrated by Michael Foreman
- Fairy Tales (1981), ISBN 0-907516-03-3
- The Saga of Erik the Viking (1983), ISBN 0-907516-23-8 – Children's Book Award 1984
- Nicobobinus (1985), ISBN 1-85145-000-9
- The Curse of the Vampire's Socks and Other Doggerel (1988), ISBN 1-85145-233-8 – poetry
- Fantastic Stories (1992), ISBN 1-85145-957-X
- The Beast with a Thousand Teeth (1993), ISBN 1-85793-070-3
- A Fish of the World (1993), ISBN 1-85793-075-4
- The Sea Tiger (1994), ISBN 1-85793-085-1
- The Fly-by-Night (1994), ISBN 1-85793-090-8
- The Knight and the Squire (1997), ISBN 1-86205-044-9
- The Lady and the Squire (2000), ISBN 1-86205-417-7 – nominated for a Whitbread Award
- Bedtime Stories (2002), ISBN 1-86205-276-X – with Nanette Newman
- Illustrated by Brian Froud
- Goblins of the Labyrinth (1986), ISBN 1-85145-058-0
- The Goblin Companion: A Field Guide to Goblins (1996), ISBN 1-85793-795-3 – an abridged re-release, in a smaller format, with the colour plates missing
- Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book (1994), ISBN 1-85793-336-2
- Strange Stains and Mysterious Smells: Quentin Cottington's Journal of Faery Research (1996), ISBN 0-684-83206-2
- Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Journal (1998), ISBN 1-86205-024-4
- Lady Cottington's Fairy Album (2002), ISBN 1-86205-559-9
- Illustrated by Martin Honeysett and Lolly Honeysett
- Chaucer's Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary (1980), ISBN 0-297-77566-9; rev. ed. (1994), ISBN 0-413-69140-3
- Who Murdered Chaucer?: A Medieval Mystery (2003), ISBN 0-413-75910-5 – with Robert Yeager, Terry Dolan, Alan Fletcher and Juliette Dor
- Terry Jones's War on the War on Terror (2005), ISBN 1-56025-653-2
- With Alan Ereira
- Crusades (1994), ISBN 0-563-37007-6
- Terry Jones' Medieval Lives (2004), ISBN 0-563-48793-3
- Terry Jones' Barbarians (2006), ISBN 0-563-49318-6
- And Now for Something Completely Different (1972) with Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and Michael Palin
- Secrets (1973) – for TV, with Michael Palin
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) with Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and Michael Palin
- Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) with Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and Michael Palin
- Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983) with Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and 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 – directed by Phil Grabsky and Daniel Percival (1998)
- The Surprising History of Egypt (USA, 2002) a.k.a. The Hidden History of Egypt (UK, 2003) – directed by Phil Grabsky
- The Surprising History of Rome (USA, 2002) a.k.a. The Hidden History of Rome (UK, 2003) – directed by Phil Grabsky
- The Surprising History of Sex and Love (2002) – directed by Alan Ereira and Phil Grabsky
- Terry Jones' Medieval Lives (2004)
- The Story of 1 (2005)
- Terry Jones' Barbarians (2006)
- Terry Jones' Great Map Mystery (2008)
Political articles 
Jones has published a number of articles on political and social commentary, principally in newspapers The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, and The Observer. Many of these articles criticized the war on terror, belittling it as "declaring war on an abstract noun" and comparing it to attempting to "annihilate mockery".
Jones and Gavin Scott have been working for years on a script for a "sci-fi farce combining CGI and live action" tentatively called Absolutely Anything; the film is expected to begin principal photography in spring 2012, with Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, and Michael Palin agreeing to "provide voices for a group of aliens".
- An asteroid, 9622 Terryjones, is named in his honour. When asked during a webchat if this were 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."
Further reading 
- Wilmut, Roger (1980). From Fringe to Flying Circus: Celebrating a Unique Generation of Comedy, 1960–1980. London: Eyre Methuen. ISBN 0-413-46950-6.
- Bevan, Nathan (2011-03-05). "The life and times of Monty Python’s Terry Jones by Nathan Bevan, Western Mail at". Walesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-06-01.
- "Distinguished Old Guildfordians – Terry Jones". Royal Grammar School, Guildford Website. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
- Roger Wilmut, From Fringe to Flying Circus, London, 1980, p.38; "An interview with Terry Jones". IGN. Retrieved 29 June 2008.. He became interested in the medieval period through reading Chaucer as part of his English degree.
- ""A Python's progress", Volume 22 Number 2, Hilary 2010 at". Oxfordtoday.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 2011-06-01.
- Martin, Francesca (16 January 2008). "Ex-Python's opera rings the changes". The Guardian (London).
- Williams, Holly (27 February 2011). "Heads Up: Operashots". The Independent (London).
- "Website featuring Canadian doctor, Monty Python pal blends humour, health advice". ca.news.yahoo.com. 2012-01-19. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
- "Python legend battles cancer". The Daily Mirror. Retrieved 21 October 2006.
- "Python op. success". The Daily Mirror. Retrieved 5 November 2006.
- Price, Richard. A baby on the way for Monty Python star Terry Jones and lover who's 41 years younger." The Daily Mail. 26 April 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
- Singh, Anita (28 September 2009). "Monty Python star Terry Jones introduces baby Siri". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 25 May 2010.
- Jones, Terry. "Why grammar is the first casualty of war" The Daily Telegraph 1 December 2001
- Pic reunites Monty Python members, a January 2012 Variety article
- Terry Jones says Monty Pythons will reunite for film, a January 2012 BBC News article
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Terry Jones|
- Terry Jones on Twitter
- Terry Jones at the Internet Movie Database
- Terry Jones at the BBC Guide to Comedy
- Terry Jones at the Comedy Zone
- MP3 audio interview with Jones from The Sound of Young America public radio program and podcast
- Interview with Terry Jones by Jeff Fleischer in Mother Jones. He talks about his politics columns.
- Text interview with Jones from Wisconsin Public Television. Jones talks about Monty Python's legacy and his more current work.