Terry Jones (1942-2020)

The multi-talented Monty Python alum died yesterday at the age of 77. He had been diagnosed with a rare form of dementia is 2015.

After huge success with Python in the 1970s and early 80s, including the feature films Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life, Jones went on to work on a huge variety of projects. With Palin, he created the successful TV series Ripping Yarns and forged a post-Python directorial career with Personal Services, Erik the Viking and The Wind in the Willows. He made a series of TV documentaries (specialising in medieval history), wrote nearly 20 children’s books, and contributed a string of comment pieces for the Guardian and Observer denouncing the “war on terror”.

Palin said: “He was far more than one of the funniest writer-performers of his generation, he was the complete Renaissance comedian – writer, director, presenter, historian, brilliant children’s author, and the warmest, most wonderful company you could wish to have.”

Fellow Python John Cleese said: “It feels strange that a man of so many talents and such endless enthusiasm, should have faded so gently away,” adding: “Of his many achievements, for me the greatest gift he gave us all was his direction of Life of Brian. Perfection.”

Oddly, the Guardian biography does not monition the excellent film Boom Bust Boom (2015) that he co-wrote, co-directed and presented that sought to explain capitalism’s recurring crises using the theory proposed by economist Hyman Minsky.

Minsky’s theory is that stability breeds instability because in times of prosperity, people forget that it was the regulations imposed after the previous bubble burst that produced the stability and growth, and they think that we have entered a new era where the old rules don’t apply and start relaxing all those controls leading to new bubbles. Staunch advocates of deregulation like Ayn Rand devotee Alan Greenspan (and leading politicians of both parties) must take a great deal of the blame for the last crash for advocating the deregulations that led to it.

He will be missed.


  1. cartomancer says

    A sad day, but unfortunately a predictable one.

    It was, in part, Terry Jones’s medieval history documentaries that inspired me to return to academia a year after I finished my undergraduate degree, to do my doctorate in medieval intellectual history.

    He will be missed.

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