The idea of there being a seventh member of the Monty Python comedy group was out of the question, Michael Palin told a court today during a legal battle over the Spamalot musical.
Mark Forstater, who produced Monty Python and the Holy Grail and is suing for an estimated £300,000 share of the profits from the stage musical spin-off, is arguing he should be treated as the “seventh Python” in financial terms.
But Palin, giving evidence in a case brought by Mr Forstater at London’s High Court, denied anyone would ever have been seen as the seventh man alongside himself, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Graham Chapman.
Dismissing Mr Forstater’s claims, he said: “It might have been what he was seeking but it was never going to be accepted by the Pythons.
“The idea of a seventh Python, it just doesn’t happen. It’s never been like that.”
“I don’t think there was ever any question that this man was a seventh Python. He might have asked to be considered as a seventh Pythn but I don’t think it had come up in our discussions.”
Watched by Idle and Jones from the back of the court, Palin stressed that it was always understood that any “added value” from the merchandising connected to the cult 1975 film would go to the Pythons and not to Mr Forstater as it had been “put together by the team.”
The court also heard how Cleese had at first been less keen than some of the other Pythons to work with Mr Forstater on the film but had come round to the idea.
Asked if Cleese had been “semi-detached” during the period in question, Palin replied: “He was working on his own series, probably Fawlty Towers. I wouldn’t say he was detached but John had strong views of his own and was expressing that.”
The court heard yesterday that Mr Forstater saw himself as the “co-creator” of the Holy Grail but Palin rubbished the suggestion today, saying: “He wasn’t the creator of the film. The film had been created by the Python team entirely.
“Mark came on board as the producer…Mark was not part of our team.”
Forstater, 69, insists he shared the risks as well as the rewards in making the hit motion picture and argues there would have been no spin-offs without the existence of the film itself.
He claims there was an agreement that he would be entitled to a seventh of the revenue from any spin-offs and merchandising from the film, but the Pythons deny this and say it was agreed he would get one fourteenth.
Palin, 69, told the court he had no memory of ever coming to an agreement with Mr Forstater along the terms he claims.
Spamalot is billed as a stage show “lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and has enjoyed huge commercial success both on Broadway and in the West End.
The original article can be found here.