Michael Palin's book 'The Python Years' is going to be released soon. Hurrah!!!
BUT - they had some bits from it in an Australian newspaper at the weekend and it ain't pretty.....
These are Michael's diaries, kept from 1969 to 1979 - and according to the paper, it really shows the decline in their relationships. I'll copy a little bit here for you......
".....Yet behind the Pythons' extraordinary success lies a story of a group of young men who struggled to stay friends, only to become racked with bitter arguments over who was the most creative, who worked the hardest and who deserved the most credit - all played out against a background of bitter envy and copious amounts of alcohol.
Palin paints a portrait of John Cleese as an irritating perfectionist whose high-handed assumption that he was the most important member of the group was the source of endless infighting.
He portrays Graham Chapman as a worsening alcoholic whose addiction jeopardised the sketches and his life.
Eric Idle, he says, was obsessed with making money and became so fed up with his colleagues that he once remarked that he would only ever perform for Python again if "none of the others are around".
Palin says Terry Jones never felt appreciated and, as a result, regularly flew into incandescent rages with Cleese.
"Our differnces are not glossed over here", says Palin before going on to make it clear that the tensions within the Pythons were every bit as intense as those in a long marriage, with brutal screaming matches and long sulks, followed by drunken reconciliations and sorrowful apologies.
What is clear from Palin's account is that the Pythons' genius emerged from a profoundly disparate group of young men - overshadowed, almost literally, by the 190cm Cleese, now 67.
Cleese was the alpha male.
"John was a big name - one of their great new discoveries of the '60s",Palin says. "The rest of us, we were journeymen scriptwriters".
Terry Gilliam, now 65, agrees.
"The people at the BBC seemed to have this notion that we were just a bunch of friends of John who were helping him make a few shows", he says. "It was Cleese & Co to them, not Monty Python".
Like the Beatles, the Pythons found success more and more difficult to deal with as a group.
As Palin records in his diary: "1973 is the year which saw the break-up of the Python group. A freshness has gone, and 1974 will see just how we pick up the threads again".
The last of the 46 episodes of the Python TV series was broadcast on December 5, 1974.
Only 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' was holding the group together, but even that failed to stem the flood of tantrums.
Everyone was near the end of their tethers, explains Palin starkly in his diary, after a day's shooting in May, 1974.
"Graham shaking and quivering with suppressed neurotic rage", he writes. "John and I talked about life. I sympathise quite a lot with his urge to be free of the obligations and responsibilities of the Python group, but I feel that John is still tense and unrelaxed with people, which compounds his problems."
The brutal truth was that Cleese and Idle felt trapped by the Pythons and wanted to pursue other careers; Chapman was becoming ever drunker; only Jones and Palin were left to keep the Python bandwagon rolling. Gilliam was, by all accounts, a slightly mystified bystander......."
The article goes on to talk about all the problems surrounding 'Life of Brian' (with John Cleese erupting with rage when Graham Chapman was given the part as Brian - John wanted to play a lead role). And after the film's release, Graham Chapman vented his feelings about the other Pythons in a newspaper interview, and filled with guilt, tried to give up drinking.
It then says that although, after 'Brian' there were to be one or two more projects - including 'The Meaning Of Life' in 1983 and stage appearances -but the acrimonious era of the Pythons perished with the release of 'Life Of Brian......."
Whew!!!! Sounds like it's going to be a great read!! I guess people will be debating a lot of the content, and maybe a bit miffed at the Mikester for dragging everything up again, but, hey, I'm interested in it all! I can't wait!!!!!!!