The daughters of feuding Monty Python stars Erik Idle and Terry Gilliam have become embroiled in a row over the ‘financial disaster’ surrounding the beloved comedy troupe.
Earlier this week Idle – who was one of the six original stars from the beloved 70s show – revealed he still had to ‘work for a living’ at the age of 80 after only receiving £2,000 per series from the BBC.
Laying his financial woes bare on social media, the actor revealed he forced to sell his home in the Hollywood Hills and while it is ‘not easy’ still has to go out to make a living.
But the comedian appeared to blame mismanagement of Monty Python’s funds for the financial downfall – taking shots at his co-star Gilliam.
‘We own everything we ever made in Python and I never dreamed that at this age the income streams would tail off so disastrously,’ he tweeted on Saturday.
‘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.’
American comedian-turned-director Gilliam, 83, who has three children including his daughter Holly who was a film and TV lawyer who became manager for the Monty Python brand in 2014.
She co-produced that year’s reunion show Monty Python Live (Mostly) – One Down, Five to Go, which was a success, selling out for the ten nights it was at the O2.
The Monty Python cast pictured on their reunion tour in 2012. Pictured: Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliham and John Cleese
The comedic troupe starring in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life back in 1983
The comedians have been candid over the years, discussing their personal financial woes. Pictured
Idle’s daughter Lily, a writer and photographer living in Los Angeles, went on to praise her father for finally sharing ‘the truth’.
She wrote: ‘I’m so proud of my dad for finally finally finally starting to share the truth.
‘He has always stood up to bullies and narcissists and absolutely deserves reassurance and validation for doing so.’
Idle went on to blame Gillian for ‘putting a stop’ to the Spamalot movie that had been discussed following the 2004 musical’s success.
The feud is just the latest in a series of financial problems to hit the cast and Idle is not the only one who has been left scrambling to keep his Hollywood lifestyle afloat.
John Cleese is said to have lost £25million over the decades after three pricey divorce settlements while the whole cast were faced with a hefty bill after getting into a High Court spat over royalties for their spin-off show Spamalot.
As a result, when the comedic group joined forces once again for their reunion tour in 2013, they admitted they needed cash. ‘Python wasn’t earning much,’ Michael Palin said bluntly.
Film producer Mark Forstater leaving the High Court following the Monty Python ‘Spamalot’ royalties case in 2012
It came after the group incurred $200,000 (£121,381) in damages, plus hefty court fees, during a dispute with a producer over royalties for their spin-off threatre show Spamalot.
Not taking themselves too seriously, the comedy group – which originally included stars Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones – have continued to make jokes about their financial situations.
Cleese, 83, admitted this summer that he was still paying off his £15.5million divorce settlement to his third wife Alyce Faye Eichelberger 15 years after the split.
In July the Oscar-nominee opened his one-man show in Singapore by telling his 1,200-strong audience that he had been forced to take the stage.
The actor said: ‘I know what you’re thinking: What is an elderly English comedian doing here in Singapore when he should be back in his old oxygen tent in London, resting. Well, I’ll tell you the reason. I’ll show it to you.’
The comedian then projected a picture of his ex-wife on a giant screen as he made pointed comments about the hefty fee: ‘This is my ex-wife on her regular morning stroll, going to collect her alimony.
‘Do you know I had to pay her $20 million? Can you believe that? Twenty! No children. Twenty million. The awful thing about that is that you give them ten, then you’ve still got another ten to go.
‘Look at it like this. If only she’d been satisfied with a mere $15 million, I’d be going to bed in half an hour. Instead, I am forced to go on being a huge international megastar, a comedy icon, a national institution, a living legend.’
John Cleeves, pictured with his third wife Alyce Eichelberger in 2002, whom he was forced to pay £15million in divorce settlements
Over the years the cast have been open about their financial troubles, often using it for jokes during performances
Terry Gilliham is pictured with Eric Idle in 2009
Monty Python at Cannes Film Festival in 1983
He married Ms Eichelberger, a psychotherapist and author, in 1992 and they divorced in 2008.
The Oscar nominee now lives on the Caribbean island of Nevis with his fourth wife Jennifer Wade who he married in Mustique in 2012.
In total he is thought to have forked out £25million on divorce settlements over the years. On his blog he previously admitted that he ‘goes wherever the work is’ before warning his fans ‘Don’t get divorced in California’.
In 2011, he went on the road with his ‘Alimony tour’ and said that his need to fund annual settlements to his former wife was also a motivating reason for the Monty Python reunion shows in 2014.
Cleese has previously said that his final payment to Ms Eichelberger would be in 2015, telling a magazine in that year: ‘The past seven years I’ve been earning to pay off the alimony. But now I’m free to do things that interest me.’
Despite the hefty divorce settlement the Fawlty Towers star still is said to have a net worth of around £8million.
Cleeve’s third wife Alyce was awarded £15.5 million in a settlement in 2008, which he paid off until 2015
Cleeves was first married to Connie Booth for ten years between 1968 to 1978 (pictured at the theatre in London in 1975)
Cleeves is now married to Jennifer Wade, 51, and the couple have been married since 2012 (pictured together in August 2022 celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary)
He has previously admitted he had been careless with his cash, admitting he ‘never knew how much money he had’ and rarely paid attention to his fortune.
‘I never understand money and I don’t find it very interesting, which is a real disadvantage in the world that we live in,’ he told a Q&A session in 2022.
‘I advise anybody who is a bit vague about it to become less vague because it has cost me a lot.’
The comedian added: ‘I never knew how much money I had. I remember in America someone asked me where my investments were and I said, ‘I have no idea at all’.
‘I have just relied on people and in one or two cases that has been very good, but in one or two others, it has been disastrous.’
During his time on the sitcom Fawlty Towers, Cleeves said he earned around £6,000 but did not receive any royalties.
‘I only did three series of Python and a couple of series, just 12 programmes, of Fawlty Towers, and I used to say I did a lot of work for charity, most of it for the BBC,’ he previously told ShowTALK podcast.
‘People say, ‘Oh, you were in James Bond’. Yes, I did four days filming in four years, that was my contribution.’
Idle previously said the group was paid £2,000 per season by the BBC
Earlier this month it was revealed that Idle (pictured) was forced to put his $6.49million home nestled in the Hollywood Hills up for sale
Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam Monty Python’s and Now For Something Completely Different inn 1971
Idle (pictured in 1983) has continually expressed his financial frustration on X, letting fans know he is not as wealthy as he appears
Idle has continually expressed his financial frustration on X, letting fans know he is not as wealthy as he appears.
In one Tweet he said: ‘I don’t mind not being wealthy. I prefer being funny. I don’t like being assumed to be wealthy. It’s different. I think Python was executive free comedy.’
In another he added: ‘I don’t know why people always assume we’re loaded,’ he announced in a rant on social media. ‘Python is a disaster. Spamalot made money 20 years ago. I have to work for my living. Not easy at this age.’
Earlier this month it was revealed that Idle was forced to put his $6.49million home nestled in the Hollywood Hills up for sale.
Over the years the star hosted the likes of George Michael and Ringo star in the salmon pink five-bedroom home which was built in the 1930s.
The property, equipped with a large swimming pool, spreads of 7,000 square-feet and was bought by the Spamlot writer and his wife for $1.5million in 1995.
The star – who won an Emmy for the 2005 musical that was performed in the West End and Las Vegas for many years – suggested the reason by the group’s financial problems was that ‘copy right ain’t worth jack s*** anymore’.
When a fan suggested the group could take part in a Netflix documentary he said: ‘F*** Netflix and f*** documentaries.’
Another said all the Python stars deserve to be financially secure Idle, he replied bluntly: ‘Too late, Alas.’
Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Carol Cleveland, Terry Jones Terry Gilliam and John Cleese Monty Python reunion in 2013
Monty Python and the Holy Grail, recorded in 1975
Palin (pictured in October) was listed as second wealthiest at £12.7million, attributed to a number of different revenue streams from TV presenting, book royalties and film appearances
Gilliam, 83, – who has gone on to direct a series of films such as Time Bandits and 12 Monkeys – has not made any public declarations about financial woes
Jones died in 2020 after being diagnosed with dementia and having to step back from the public limelight
In 2015 it was reported that Idle’s net worth was £9.5million with his successful musical being cited as the main source.
Gilliam, 83, – who has gone on to direct a series of films such as Time Bandits and 12 Monkeys – has not made any public declarations about financial woes, nor has his co-star Palin, who turned 80 last year.
Gilliam was reported as being the wealthiest star from Monty Python following his combined box office haul of £137.5million for the two films.
Palin was listed as second wealthiest at £12.7million, attributed to a number of different revenue streams from TV presenting, book royalties and film appearances.
Speaking of Monty Python, Palin told Big Issue: ‘I look back on it increasingly fondly.
‘It was a difficult writing process – not nearly as smooth and easy as the other films,’ he tells us. ‘But as I look back at it 40 years later, I think it’s got some terrific stuff in it – some of the best things we ever did.’
Jones, who died in 2020, was reported to have a net worth of £11.4 million. The star was forced to step back from the public limelight after being diagnosed with dementia with Palin later revealing his friend was no longer able to speak.