John Cleese Defends Holly Gilliam After ‘Monty Python’ Cofounder Blames Her for Dwindling Finances

The storied comic performer also details his personal relationship with Eric Idle, saying, “We always loathed and despised each other”

Monty Python and the Holy Grail John Cleese EMI Films
John Cleese in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (Credit: EMI Films)

John Cleese, the storied comedian, actor and Monty Python founding member, clapped back Tuesday against cofounder Eric Idle’s assertion that his dwindling finances are the fault of manager — and cofounder Terry Gilliam’s daughter — Holly Gilliam.

“I have worked with Holly for the last 10 years, and I find her very efficient, clear-minded, hard working and a pleasure to have dealings with,” Cleese wrote in a post on X.

Cleese added that cofounders Gilliam and Michael Palin also asked him “to make it clear” that they are of the same opinion.

Cleese’s comments came after Idle wrote on X Saturday, saying that “people always assume we’re loaded,” but that the finances behind Monty Python are today “a disaster.”

“‘Spamalot’ made money 20 years ago,” he said. “I have to work for my living. Not easy at this age.”

Idle then appeared to blame the troupe’s manager, Holly Gilliam, for mishandling their finances.

“We own everything we ever made in Python and I never dreamed that at this age the income streams would tail off so disastrously,” Idle said. “But I guess if you put a Gilliam child in as your manager, you should not be so surprised. One Gilliam is bad enough. Two can take out any company.”

Holly Gilliam began to manage Monty Python in 2014. Idle’s daughter, Lily, responded to her father’s assertion that she mismanaged their money by writing to X that she is “so proud” that he is “finally starting to share the truth.”

“He has always stood up to bullies and narcissists and absolutely deserves reassurance and validation for doing so,” she wrote.

The jabs against the Gilliams weren’t the only negative opinions Idle aired out over the weekend, either. Asked if he is still in touch with his Monty Python cofounders, he wrote to one user that he hasn’t “seen Cleese for seven years.” Told by another that that development is sad, Idle replied, “It makes me happy.”

In his own response on Tuesday, Cleese appeared to express exactly where his relationship with Idle lands today, writing, “We always loathed and despised each other, but it’s only recently that the truth has begun to emerge.” But according to Cleese in a follow-up post on Wednesday, his assertion was a widely misinterpreted joke.

“My thanks to The Standard for understanding my joke about the Pythons ‘loathing and despising each other,’” he wrote. “On the other hand … Zero points to The Hollywood Reporter and the Press Association.”

Monty Python grew to fame through its sketch series “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” which aired from 1969-1974. They followed the series with three movies: “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “Life of Brian” and “The Meaning of Life.”

Idle also wrote “Holy Grail”-inspired musical “Spamalot,” which has been performed around the world and is currently in the midst of a revival run on Broadway.


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