Carol Cleveland (born 13 January 1942 in London, England) is a British actress and comedian, best remembered as the unofficial "seventh member" of Monty Python. When John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones and Michael Palin weren't walking around in drag themselves or actually needed an attractive woman for a sketch they usually cast her in the role. In the 1999 BBC documentary to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Monty Python Cleveland acknowledged that the Pythons were aware that they didn't have much else for her to do and apologized many, many times for it. Palin has said in several interviews that they all went to boys only schools and as a result weren't used to writing funny parts for actresses.
Despite the fact that Cleveland usually didn't have the funniest lines, didn't write any material herself and only appeared in minor roles she is still fondly remembered by fans of the show. As the most recurring actor apart from the six main actors she is recognizable to anybody who ever watched the series and films. She also played parts on their albums and even went on tour with them and performed on stage. Even when they needed female voices for characters in Terry Gilliam's animated skits her voice was recorded. The Pythons liked her because she was just as devoted to their madcap comedy as they were and in that regard she definitely deserves her unofficial nickname as "the Seventh Python". note
Her work with Python is still the thing she is most famous for, yet she acted in a lot of other TV productions and films too. In the controversial (as in banned in the US for years) The Avengers (1960s) episode "A Touch of Brimstone" she was basically a sub for the Hellfire Club. In the Are You Being Served? episode "Friends and Customer" she played a customer in their store. And in Only Fools and Horses episode "The Miracle Of Peckham" she played an American reporter. In The Return of the Pink Panther she plays a swimming pool diver.
- The Saint, appeared as two different characters in 1963 and 1965 episodes
- The Avengers, episode "A Touch of Brimstone" (1966)
- Man in a Suitcase, episode "The Sitting Pigeon" (1967)
- Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-1974)
- And Now For Something Completely Different (1971)(Python sketches re-shot for a theatrical compilation film)
- Another Monty Python Record (1971)(comedy album)
- The Return of the Pink Panther (1974)
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975): Zoot and her twin sister Dingo.
- Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979): She plays a female member of the People's Front of Judea and Mrs. Gregory, wife of the snobby Jewish aristocrat, who gets crucified.
- Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982)
- Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983): Beefeater waitress, wife of Guest # 1 and the mother of the leaf who commits suicide.
- Only Fools and Horses (1986), episode "A Miracle in Peckham"
- Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go (2014): Monty Python live show, recorded and released as a film.
Carol Cleveland provides examples of:
- All Women Are Lustful: A stereotype she often portrayed. In "Mr. Smoketoomuch" the first thing she says to Eric Idle when he enters the travel agency is: "Do you want to come upstairs?" After he fails to respond accordingly she quickly changes subject: "Or,... eh... have you come here to arrange your holiday?"
- And then there's her role as Dingo, where she wants Sir Galahad to spank her — and all the other girls follow suit. And after the spanking — the oral sex!
- American Accents: Cleveland was born in England, but she spent a huge part of her youth in the USA. As a result she can put on an American accent fairly easily and convincingly, as demonstrated in the "Scott Of The Antarctic" sketch, where she plays a spoiled decadent Hollywood actress.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Monty Python and the Holy Grail she asks the audience what they think of the scenes in "Castle Anthrax"? Various characters from earlier and later in the film all reply, until eventually telling her to "Get on with it!"
- Buxom Is Better: In the "Summarizing Proust Competition" sketch Terry Jones eventually decides to give the prize of the competition to "the girl with the biggest tits", cue Cleveland running in out of nowhere to take the award.
- Cheating with the Milkman: In And Something Completely Different she lures a milkman (Michael Palin) inside her house and then locks him up in a room containing several other milkmen, two of whom have long white beards and one of whom is a skeleton.
- Cross-Cast Role:
- In the "Funniest Joke of the World" sketch where the joke is tested on a soldier to check how deadly it is we can see Cleveland briefly next to Cleese watching the proceedings from within a bunker. She is dressed up as a male military officer, complete with a mustache.
- In the "Jungle Restaurant" sketch, she plays a male explorer named Brian (who also has a mustache).
- Damsel in Distress: Several sketches depict her running away from danger, like Rebecca in the "Woody and Tinny Words" sketch after hearing the word "tinny" or being captured easily, for instance in "The Spanish Inquisition" where the Inquisition ties her to a dish-drying rack.
- Dumb Blonde: This is the part she is remembered the best for in Monty Python, despite the fact she is a redhead in real life.
- In the sketch "The Visitors", where she and Graham Chapman play a couple who get an unexpected and unwanted visit late at night, she is completely oblivious towards the rude intentions of the unwanted vistitor and the equally rude guests he brings along with him. At one point the visitor tells them an joke note , which her character clearly doesn't understand, as the camera shows with a close-up of her perplexed face.
- In "Buying A Bed" she and Terry Jones play a wedded couple who want to buy a bed in a store. A long series of insane moments follows, all created by the fact that one of the store assistants puts a bag over his head whenever he hears the word "mattress" and the other store assistants have to go through extreme measures to make him normal again. Yet despite all that she, near the end, still says that she and her man want to buy a mattress. When all the others furiously shout at her for being so stupid to say that: "Why did you say that?!" she starts to cry , Breaking the Fourth Wall, and shouts: "But it's my only line!"
- Ms. Fanservice: The Pythons cast her for all roles where they needed an attractive female. The script for the "Marriage Guidance Counsellor" sketch, for instance, describes her as a "a beautiful blond buxom wench, in the full bloom of her young womanhood". The Pythons even joked about the fact that she was used for this purpose first and foremost by calling her "Carol Cleavage". Cleveland herself also went along with this joke in public appearances.
- Naked People Are Funny: While being chased by a pair of huge teeth in the "Scott Of The Antarctic" sketch she gradually loses all of her clothes, until she's finally bare breasted. Though we only see her from the back because Cleveland didn't want to flash her breasts to the camera.
- Rich Bitch: Cleveland occasionally played parts in Monty Python and other comedy series where she played a rich snobby Upperclass Twit. It allowed her to be funny in her own right and the Pythons actually praised her for these roles as it was a female role she did better than any of them.
- Straight Woman: Out of all the Pythons she probably played straight parts the most. In many sketches she is either the voice of reason or the Only Sane Woman amidst all the madness. Examples are the "Dennis Moore" sketch and "The Visitors", for instance.
- Wrongfully Attributed: Some people think she played all the attractive women in the series, which isn't true. For instance, the adoring woman next to Michael Palin in the "Lumberjack Song" was played by Connie Booth note in the series. Mrs. Twolumps in "The Ministry of Silly Walks" sketch was also played by a different actress. Though she did play these specific parts during stage shows.