Terry Jones 'still here, not gone', says Monty Python co-star Eric Idle

Terry Jones “hasn’t forgotten who he is” as he battles dementia, his Monty Python co-star Eric Idle has said.

Terry, 74, is suffering from primary progressive aphasia, a form of dementia that affects his ability to communicate.

But Eric told Radio Times that the illness is tougher for the people close to Terry than it is for the star himself.

“It doesn’t seem to me that he’s unhappy,” he said.

“I think it’s harder for people around them than for the person themselves.”

Terry Jones (Hannah McKay / PA Wire)
Eric said Terry “hasn’t forgotten who he is, yet”, adding: “It hasn’t got to that point. Terry’s still here, he’s not gone.”

The comedian said he and the other surviving members of the comedy troupe – John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin – have known about Terry’s illness for some time.

He said he was happy that they managed to do their live shows at the O2 in 2014 “while we could still get him through it”.

Eric Idle (Matt Sayles AP/PA)
“We said, ‘Look, Terry, don’t worry, we’re going to get you through this. We’re all in this together. You’re not to blame’,” he said.

“It’s like people who have bipolar disorder or something, it’s not their fault.

“These are genes and things that have got into our systems and we are now at the mercy of them.”

Eric, 73, saw Terry a few months ago and also spent time with him in New York last year.

He said: “He was on stage there, but he was having trouble stringing sentences together and it was becoming noticeable – so I’m glad they came out with it and acknowledged his illness in public.”

The Pythons in 2013 (Ian West/PA)
Terry directed Monty Python’s Life Of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life, and co-directed Monty Python And The Holy Grail with Terry Gilliam.

His diagnosis was announced in September.

The Radio Times is on sale on Thursday.

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