Eric Idle was born in March 1943 in South Shields, County Durham, U.K. As a young child he lived in Manchester and attended Pembroke College, Cambridge, to read English Literature, in which he took his B.A. in 1965.
From 1964 - 1965, he was President of The Footlights Dramatic Club (founded in 1883) and changed the rules to accept women members, the first of whom was Germaine Greer. After touring with her in the annual Footlights Revue "My Girl Herbert," which ran for a brief time at The Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, he spent a season in Leicester Rep before moving to London, appearing in two BBC TV Movies: "Jonathan Miller's Alice in Wonderland," and "Ken Russell’s Isadora," and then starting to write professionally for BBC Radio’s "I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again" and BBC Television’s "The Frost Report," which won The Golden Rose of Montreux.
In 1968 he began writing and acting in two series of a children’s TV hit, "Do Not Adjust Your Set," with Michael Palin Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, which won The Priz Jeunnesse, Munich for Best Children’s Television. The success of this show led to four series of "Monty Python’s Flying Circus" for the BBC from July 1969 through 1973, with the addition of John Cleese and Graham Chapman. The Pythons made several stage appearances, "Monty Python’s First Farewell Tour" (UK and Canada, 1973), "Monty Python Live at Drury Lane" (1974), "Monty Python Live at City Center" (1976), and several movies, "And Now For Something Completely Different" (1971), "Monty Python and The Holy Grail" (1975), "The Life of Brian" (1979), "Monty Python Live at The Hollywood Bowl" (1982), and "The Meaning of Life" (1983).
After "Python," he created "Radio Five" -- the first comedy music show on BBC’s Radio One. He then wrote and starred in two Series of "Rutland Weekend Television" (with Neil Innes), which led to writing and co-directing "The Rutles, in All You Need is Cash," for NBC, produced by "Saturday Night Live’s" Lorne Michaels, a show which he hosted four times in the 1970s. In 2001 he made a sequel called “Can’t Buy Me Lunch,” which looked back on the Rutles and their influence on people’s lives.
In 1975 he published "Hello Sailor," his first novel. His first play, "Pass The Butler," was produced at The Globe Theatre, London, 1983, where it ran for five months.
He has appeared in several films including "Baron Munchausen," "European Vacation," "Yellowbeard," "Nuns on the Run," "Splitting Heirs," "Casper," "Wind in the Willows" and has voiced "Transformers," "Shrek 3," "South Park" (the movie) and four episodes of "The Simpsons." In 1986 he appeared as Koko in Jonathan Miller’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s "The Mikado" at The English National Opera, a role he repeated at The Houston Grand Opera in 1989. In 1994 he moved to Los Angeles, where he currently resides.
Publications include "The Rutland Dirty Weekend Book" (1976), a children’s audio book, "The Quite Remarkable Adventures of the Owl and The Pussycat" (1996) and two novels, "Hello Sailor" (1975) and "The Road to Mars" (1999). In 1978 he began collaborating with composer John Du Prez, writing and recording songs for "Monty Python," the signature tune for "One Foot in the Grave" and a musical "Behind The Crease" for BBC Radio Four (1990.) In 1991 his song "Always Look on the Bright Side" became a hit single in the UK.
His collaboration with John Du Prez led to two live stage tours of North America (2000 and 2003) and a book, "The Greedy Bastard Diary," which details life on the road for three months, 15,000 miles in a rock and roll bus.
Their musical, "Spamalot," directed by Mike Nichols, opened in Chicago in December 2004 and then Broadway on March 17, 2005 at The Shubert Theater, where it ran until January 2009, breaking all house records, garnering $175 million at The Box Office, winning three Tonys (including Best Musical 2005) a Grammy for Best Broadway Album and a Writers Desk Award for Best Lyrics. It subsequently toured North America for three years, opened in the West End of London for two years at The Palace Theater, and played The Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas (2007), Melbourne (2007), Barcelona (2008), Cologne (2008), Madrid (2009), Hungary (2009), Paris (2010), Sweden (2010), South Korea (2010), Holland and Belgium and Mexico City (2011).
Spamalot is currently touring both the UK and the US. A comic "Oratorio Not The Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy)," based on "Monty Python’s Life of Brian," written with John Du Prez “for Choir, Orchestra and Sheep”, premiered in Toronto (May 2006) conducted by his cousin Peter Oundjian. Subsequently it was lengthened and performed on tour in Australia and New Zealand, including two sell-out nights at The Sydney Opera House, Wolf Trap (Washington), Houston and two nights at The Hollywood Bowl 2009 (with fireworks to the Galaxy Song) all conducted by John Du Prez. Idle appeared in all performances singing “Baritonish.” In October 2009 as part of the celebration of forty years of Monty Python, it was performed and filmed at The Royal Albert Hall, London, with guest stars fellow Pythons Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and Terry Gilliam, plus Carol Cleveland and Neil Innes.
In 2009 at a special presentation in New York City, "Monty Python" received a BAFTA lifetime achievement Award. He is apparently not yet dead, but his final words will probably be “Say No More.”
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