Terence Graham Parry Jones (1 February 1942 21 January 2020) was a British comedian, actor, film director and author. He is best remembered for being a member of Monty Python and was the only Welshman in the team. Jones played the Nude Organist in many opening sketches of Monty Python's Flying Circus and was most talented in convincingly portraying older women, most famously Brian's mother Mandy in Monty Python's Life of Brian. When the team made their foray into films it was Jones who sat in the director's seat and kept control over the spirit of the series.
Apart from his Python endeavours he also directed the movie Erik the Viking (1989), The Wind in the Willows (1996) and Absolutely Anything (2015). Together with Michael Palin he co-wrote and acted in the comedy series Ripping Yarns. He was also a prolific author, writing children's medieval fantasy novels, as well as serious books on medieval history (notably Chaucer's Knight: Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary, which sets out to cast new light on a major character in The Canterbury Tales) and a Saturday Morning cartoon and video game called Blazing Dragons. He was also involved in many documentaries about history, including Terry Jones' The Crusades, Terry Jones' Medieval Lives and Terry Jones' Barbarians.
He largely retired from public life in 2016 due to primary progressive aphasia, a severe form of dementia that robbed him of the ability to communicate both through speech and written words. He sadly passed away due to frontotemporal dementia on January 21, 2020.
He should definitely not be confused with the American Islamophobic preacher of the same name.
- The Frost Report (1966): Actor and co-writer
- Do Not Adjust Your Set (1967-1969)
- Complete And Utter History of Britain (1969)
- Marty (1969): Actor and co-writer
- Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969) (1970) (1971-1972) (1974)
- The Two Ronnies: Wrote the scripts of 13 episodes between 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1976.
- Ripping Yarns (1976): Actor, writer and co-director: Mr Ellis, Bear, Mr Moodie,...
- The Young Ones: Appeared in the 1984 episode "Nasty" as a drunk vicar.
- The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles: Appeared in the Barcelona, May 1917 episode (1992) as Marcello.
- Crusades (1996): Host, writer and small comedic roles.
- Terry Jones' Medieval Lives (2004): Host, writer and small comedic roles.
- Terry Jones' Barbarians (2006): Host, writer and small comedic roles.
- And Now For Something Completely Different (1971): Acted.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975): co-directed with Terry Gilliam. Acted the roles of Sir Bedivere, Dennis' mother, left head of the three-headed giant and Prince Herbert.
- Jabberwocky (1975): Cameo as a poacher.
- Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979): Director. Plays Brian's mother, Simon the hermit and various minor roles.
- Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982) (acted)
- Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983): Directed and played Mr Creosote, the man with bendy arms looking for a fish and various women.
- Labyrinth (1986): Wrote the screenplay, but Executive Meddling changed it into something that barely resembles his original draft.
- Erik the Viking (1989): Directed and played King Arnulf. (Also based on a novel he wrote).
- The Wind in the Willows (1996): Directed and played the role of Toad.
- Absolutely Anything (2015): Directed, co-wrote the screenplay with Gavin Scott and voiced an extra-terrestrial.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus (1970)
- Another Monty Python Record (1971)
- Monty Python's Previous Record (1972)
- The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief (1973)
- Monty Python Live at Drury Lane (1974)
- The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the Film of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
- Monty Python Live at City Centre (1976)
- The Monty Python Instant Record Collection (1977)
- Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
- Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album (1980)
- Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)
- The Final Rip Off (1988)
- Monty Python Sings (1989)
- The Monty Python Instant Record Collection, Volume 2 (1991)
- The Ultimate Monty Python Rip Off (1994)
- The Instant Monty Python CD Collection (1994)
- Spamalot (2005)
- The Hastily Cobbled Together for a Fast Buck Album (unreleased)
Terry Jones' work provides examples of...
- Careful with That Axe: Jones could shriek quite high when he impersonated a woman. In one sketch he played a burglary victim who had to describe the crime in a shrieking voice to a policeman who could not understand him otherwise.
- Crosscast Role: Despite the fact that all Python members have at one point dressed up as women it's Jones who is remembered best for it. He could play elderly women very convincingly and at a certain point whenever the team had a part with an older woman Jones was more or less forced to play it because none of the others did it quite so well.
- Deconstruction: Quite fond of deconstructing this trope and Ye Goode Olde Days (on Knights, Monks, Minstrels, Outlaws, and Kings) and The Dung Ages (on Peasants, Philosophers, Damsels, and Kings) on Medieval Life as a historian on that subject.
- Everything Is an Instrument: One Python sketch has him portray Arthur Ewing, who claims to have musical mice, reputedly trained to squeak at specific pitches. He announces they will play "The Bells of St. Mary's", but simply hits them with mallets while humming the tune himself.
- Fat Bastard: He played the morbidly obese Mr Creosote in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Jones was quite a history buff and claimed that he was always suspicious about so-called "heroes" in historical texts. It's one of the reasons he agreed to do the series "The Crusades". One of the historical people whom Jones claimed got this treatment was Richard the Lionheart. He even claims that after he died records were calling him grasping and portraying him in a negative light, but John becoming the bad King means Richard changed back to being a good King.
- Naked People Are Funny: Terry Jones performed a striptease act twice in Monty Python's Flying Circus and was also the Nude Organist who announced the show from the second season on. According to Douglas Adams, he only agreed to write the novelization of Starship Titanic if he could do it in the nude, and supposedly did so.
- Scenery Porn: Many of the sketches in Monty Python's Flying Circus written by Terry Jones/Michael Palin were set on location in beautiful countryside locations. (It got to the point where as soon as they began reading a sketch, John Cleese would go 'here we go, pan over beautiful countryside'). Lampshaded in a sketch at the end of one episode which starts with an image of the ocean roaring onto a beach, at which point John Cleese comes on and apologises for the fact that there's no actual jokes at all, but at least the scenery is lovely.
- Signature Style: Jones was very much into history and a lot of the intellectual references in Monty Python were partly contributed by him. His later series The Crusades also provided a funny but insightful look at this time period. Together with Michael Palin he also had a knack for visually impressive background locations, which like in the case of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Monty Python's Life of Brian, made the comedy work much better.
- Shown Their Work: Since he was a medieval scholar and a history buff many Python films actually got a lot of historical details right.
- Straight Man: Jones played the straight man a few times in Monty Python sketches, like "Nudge Nudge", "Buying A Bed" and "Bruces".
- The Unintelligible: Jones had fallen into this trope as he got older, often mumbling under his breath in interviews. It's since been revealed that he was suffering from aphasia in an early stage of dementia.
- Wholesome Cross Dresser: Out of all Python actors he was perhaps the best imitator of older women, with Eric Idle as a good second.
- Wrongfully Attributed: Because there are two Terrys in Monty Python he was sometimes confused by the general public with Terry Gilliam.