Born in South Shields in Northern England, Eric Idle was president of Footlights at Cambridge University (and was the first to allow women into the theatrical club). He appeared on stage in "Oh! What a Lovely War," contributed to the BBC Radio series "I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again," and worked on "The Frost Report" and "We Have Ways of Making You Laugh" (which also featured cartoonist Terry Gilliam). He later invited Terry Jones and Michael Palin and eventually Gilliam to join him on "Do Not Adjust Your Set."
Idle's razor-sharp wit and musical gifts were evident throughout Python's TV, movie, book and record output. A master of wordplay, Idle portrayed a chat show guest who speaks entirely in anagrams, as well as a man who helps people learn to finish their own sentences.
Among his other memorable characters were a children's storyteller shocked by his book's scandalous content; an insinuating pub patron who tries to tease out a fellow patron's sex life; Bruce, the Australian academic whose passions include philosophy and beer; a travel agent customer who rants unceasingly about bad experiences abroad; TV personality Timmy Williams (whose resemblance to David Frost was entirely coincidental), and award show host Dickie Attenborough; matriarch of the award-winning East Midlands Most Awful Family (Lower-Middle-Class Section); an RAF pilot with appallingly bad banter; the not-quite-so-brave Sir Robin; and Stan, who wants to be called Loretta.
His musical contributions, such as "The Penis Song”, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and "The Galaxy Song," and his affectionate mockumentary of the Beatles-like Rutles, preceded his Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, "Monty Python's Spamalot," and his oratorio, "Not the Messiah: He's a Very Naughty Boy" both written with John Du Prez. He most recently created and directed the Pythons' 2014 reunion show at the O2 Arena.
Idle's non-Python appearances include "Rutland Weekend Television," “SNL,” "National Lampoon's European Vacation," "The Mikado," "Yellowbeard,” “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," "Nuns on the Run," "Casper," “Splitting Heirs," “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" and "Boxtrolls.”
He is author of the plays "Pass the Butler" and "What About Dick?" the novels “The Road to Mars” and “Hello Sailor” and documented his "Greedy Bastard Tour" in a 2005 book.
By David Morgan, 2014