Monty Python fans – prepare for the rude return of your comedy idols.
Carol Cleveland, the so-called "Female Python" or "Seventh Python", has said that the stage return next month promises a spectacular but potentially even more risque return of the comedy greats.
Rehearsals have only just begun for the show which opens at the O2 in London for a ten-date run on July 1, but already it has prompted fevered excitement among fans of the world-famous troupe.
It will be the first glimpse of the surviving five Pythons – John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and animator Terry Gilliam – since their last proper stage show at the Hollywood Bowl in 1980 prior to the death of Graham Chapman in 1989.
“On top of seeing their comedy heroes, fans are going to be seeing a much bigger show, a much more exciting show,” Cleveland told RadioTimes.com. “It’s a little bit ruder than it has been in the past.”
Cleveland also reveals that the sketches that will be included are The Parrot Sketch, the Argument Sketch as well as the song number Christmas in Heaven from the film Monty Python and the Meaning of Life (see clip below) and the much-loved Lumberjack song.
She said: “But the biggest change in this show from when we’ve done it before is the 20 ensemble singer dancers. We have big musical numbers, so there’s lots of dancing and singing as well, with Arlene Phillips doing the choreography. It’s part of the sketch. They don’t just come out and do a number, so yes they’re used in the sketches as well.
“We have the animation, as we’ve always had, so the animation is good for when people are rushing up and changing their costumes. There’ll be a lot of costume changes, more activity going on backstage than I think there is on stage with the massive costume changes. I think I spend more time changing my costume than being on stage. So it’s a much bigger show than it’s ever been before.”
Cleveland, who frequently appeared in a scantily clad showgirl outfit on Monty Python’s Flying Circus joked that “what I do in the show is not quite what I did in the show 34 years ago” and has taken on other roles including that of the frumpy Mrs Bun in the famous Spam sketch that has traditionally been played by Idle.
“Because I was the only female in the show then, and I was the glamour tease, but now, we have 20 ensemble singer dancers, and so we have 10 beautiful young ladies. And of course, I don’t mind one little bit. So I’m playing sort of more the character parts now.”
The performer who was affectionately known as Carol Cleavage by the other Pythons, said that she she insisted on appearing at least once in her showgirl outfit in Monty Python Live (Mostly) – and that the other Pythons have agreed.
“I think maybe, if I’d aged badly, then I might look at those and think, 'oh dear, what happened to her?' But the nice thing is, she’s still around. I do still occasionally get recognised, and I’m always delighted because I say, ‘oh thank you so much’.
“It’s nice to know I still resemble myself because, you know, a lot of people don’t as they get older, so I look back, and I just think hey, it was good stuff, it was funny, and it reminds me of the fun, the great fun that we had doing it.”
* Carol Cleveland’s autobiography PomPoms Up! From Puberty to Python and Beyond has just been published by Dynasty Press. The last date of Monty Python Live (Mostly) will be streamed on Gold on July 20.