Vibrant picture of the Pythons

THE PYTHONS' AUTOBIOGRAPHY<br><b>The Pythons</b><br><i>Hachette</i>
THE PYTHONS' AUTOBIOGRAPHY<br><b>The Pythons</b><br><i>Hachette</i>
John, Paul, George and Ringo. Larry, Curly and Moe. Huey, Dewey and Louie. Kim, Laila and Hone.

Sometimes, first names grouped together are enough to evoke all sorts of powerful images. Or, in the case of six magnificent men named Cleese, Chapman, Gilliam, Jones, Palin and Idle, it is enough to mention the last names.

They are, of course, the creators and stars of that wild and wacky concept known as Monty Python's Flying Circus, the ground-breaking English (with Gilliam's American influence) comedy troupe that forever changed the way we laugh.

They gave us the Knights Who Say Ni, Mr Creosote, dead parrots, silly walks, lots of spam, a gumby, a nude organist and a very naughty boy, The Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. And, always, something completely different.

It is 45 years (gasp) since the first Monty Python television series, and 31 years since their last film, but the Pythons can never die. They have just completed their final, final, final get-together with a series of shows in London that will be released on DVD in November.

This book is a re-release, timed to coincide with the shows, but don't let that put you off. It is a comprehensive, vibrant history of the men and their madness.

Presented in oral history format, The Pythons' Autobiography uses the words of all six original members (Graham Chapman died in 1989), plus assorted key supporters, to tell the tale of how Python was created, how it fell apart, and why it will live forever.

The chaps don't hold back - they snipe at each other, and at the BBC, and air all sorts of grievances - but it never feels petty. It must have been a cathartic experience.

There is a little crossover, as multiple narrators zone in on some specific topics, but in general it flows well. And the photos and memorabilia that litter the pages will be fascinating for fans.

Not that this is just for the fans. If you like a laugh, have a look. And get excited about another Python book, the autobiography of John Cleese, arriving later in the year.

- Hayden Meikle is ODT sports editor.

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