John Cleese booking
Described by his website thejohncleese.com as “British writer, actor and tall person”, John Cleese is
one of the most iconic figures of British comedy and has always exhibited a unique take on the world.
Born John Marwood Cleese on 27 October 1939 in Weston-super-Mare, Cleese was the only child of
Muriel and Reginald Francis Cleese. His wit and intelligence shone through from a young age, and he
received a prize for English at his preparatory school. By the age of 13, his famous stature was
already established, and he was six foot tall when he began his education at Clifton College, a public
school in Bristol. Sporty and bright, Cleese played cricket for the school’s first team and did well
academically. It was at this school where he also gained a reputation as a prankster, especially for one
stunt involving painted footprints across the school grounds suggesting that the school’s statue had
walked to the toilet. Before commencing a law degree at Downing College, Cambridge University,
Cleese returned to his childhood prep school to teach science, English, geography, history and Latin.
At Cambridge, he joined the infamous Cambridge Footlights, the amateur theatrical club, where he
met Graham Chapman who was to become his future writing partner. His work as writer on the 1963
Footlights Revue, ‘A Clump of Plinths’, got him noticed by BBC Radio and he was offered a job. The
success of this Footlights Revue led to the recording of short series ‘I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again’.
The popularity of this soon grew, and a regular series was commissioned. 1964 saw the show take to
the road, under the name Cambridge Circus, for a tour of New Zealand and New York. Cleese
remained in America beyond the end of this show, to perform both on and off-Broadway. During his
time stateside, he met Terry Gilliam, another future Monty Python writer, and Connie Booth who would
become his wife in 1968. He returned to England, and the cast of ‘I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again’ in
1965. During this time Cleese began writing ‘The Frost Report’ with Chapman, along with a host of
other well-known names such as Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor, The Two Ronnies and future Pythons
Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. Over the next few years Cleese made a name for himself and
finally in 1969 he and Chapman were offered their own series. If it weren’t for Chapman’s severe
alcohol problems, making him difficult to work with alone, Cleese may never have offered Michael
Palin the opportunity to join them. They had met whilst working on ‘The Frost Report’, and Cleese has
always maintained that he has been his favourite person to work with. Palin knew Eric Idle, Terry
Jones and Terry Gilliam from work on ‘Do Not Adjust Your Set’, and the four of them agreed to join
Cleese and Chapman.
‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ ran for four series from October 1969 to December 1974 on the BBC.
They went on to create three feature length films, namely ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, ‘Life of
Brian’ and ‘The Meaning of Life’. During this time, Cynthia Cleese was born in 1971, his only child with
American actress Connie Booth. In addition, he served as rector of the University of St Andrews
between 1970 and 1973. His posting there is viewed as a landmark for helping the university
modernise its practices; for example he appointed an elected student as his deputy who was to sit in
his place when he was unable to be in Scotland. Following the successes of Monty Python, Cleese
went on to create one of the most celebrated shows in British comedy. ‘Fawlty Towers’ followed the
day-to-day running of a hotel in Torquay, where mishaps and blunders were common. The title
character, Basil Fawlty, played by Cleese, was based on a rude and neurotic hotel manager he had
come across during his days touring with Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Cleese has since described
him as “the most wonderfully rude man I have ever met.” The series was co-written by Connie Booth,
and premiered in 1975. The second series did not come until four years later, by which time Cleese
and Booth had split. However, they agreed to reprise their writing and acting roles alongside each
other for another six episodes.
Cleese is now one of the most famous Brits in the world, and has remained in the public eye with high
profile film roles in ‘James Bond’, ‘Shrek’ and ‘Winnie the Pooh’ (2011), as well as maintaining a TV
presence with roles in ‘Will and Grace’ and ‘Entourage’, the latter in which he plays a version of
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