The remaining members of Monty Python are to reunite on stage tonight for the first time in decades.
The cult comedy act – John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones – have signed up for a string of farewell gigs with special guests including scientist Stephen Hawking.
Idle, who has done most to create the show – which features an extended cast of dancers, a full orchestra and special effects – promised fans it would be “really filthy”.
Jones said: “My four-and-a-half-year-old daughter is coming to the last show and I dread to think what she will think of it.”
They said Hawking will appear in the show, at London’s O2, with Professor Brian Cox.
Idle said: “He’s a big Python fan so he was asked if he would and he said within one minute ’yes’.”
Cleese said the show, which includes numerous set changes and special effects, costs around £4.5 million to stage.
He said: “It’s much more complicated and spectacular than certainly I realised when we sat down for the read through for the first time.”
Monty Python’s Flying Circus was made for TV between 1969 and 1974 and generations of fans can recite lines and whole sketches.
Sixth Python Graham Chapman died of cancer in 1989, aged 48, and nine years later the five remaining members shared a stage at the Aspen Comedy Festival in the US.
Yesterday’s press conference, at the Palladium Theatre, began with a promotional clip for the concerts featuring Rolling Stones Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts discussing the concerts, with Jagger asking why the audience wanted to watch a “bunch of wrinkly old men trying to relive their youth”.
But Idle said fans wanted to see the classic sketches which made their name, saying: “It would be odd to try and write better things than our best at this age.”
He said he was not worried about jokes written decades ago being appreciated by a modern audience because they had not dated.
He said: “It’s mainly timeless actually, because we were very fortunate and followed the satire movement in England and everything was topical so when we came along we tried to knock that.”
The last ever gig – on July 20 – will be broadcast live in thousands of cinemas around the world.