LONDON – Monty Python – perhaps the most famous and popular post War British comedian – spoke today exclusively to Studio Exec of his years of pain, including long bouts of mental illness and depression.

‘I’m speaking out, so that millions like me will understand they are not alone,’ said Mr. Python, relaxing in his state of the art caravan at a park near Skegness.

Python (73) first became famous in Britain with a groundbreaking television series in the late sixties before turning his attention to the cinema where he made four internationally successful films including the widely regarded comedy classics Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Monty Python and the Life of Brian. But behind the laughter there was a terrible tragedy and even those close to Python, rarely guessed how deep it went.

I think even as a child I suffered from a form of this. Probably less serious. I would do different voices and even try to make myself look shorter or taller depending on who I was with. But as it went on, it became a compulsion. 

It was only in 1976 that Python was correctly diagnosed as having Multiple Personality Disorder. As well as being Monty, he would introduce himself as Michael, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Eric, John or Graham. He insisted that all his work was credited to all his personalities and some of them differed so much, involving also a physical metamorphosis that many even believed they were different people.

A composite portrait

I think that was a tipping point. When I started getting separate royalties for each personality and I would have to do press conferences and talk about the differing personalities of the group. It only served to validate the illness.

Some relief came in the late eighties when he managed to kill off one of his personalities – Graham – but it proved a false dawn.

Without Graham, there was no balance and I’m afraid I went into a tail spin. The only thing I could do was get away with a series of travel documentaries, the odd sit-com cameo and some Broadway musicals which were so stiflingly boring they passed as therapy.  

So why speak out now when so many people still thing you are actually a team of separate individuals?

Because I see One Direction and The Rolling Stones and I want to say, “It’s okay. Tell everyone it is ONE Direction. It is The Rolling Stone.

Monty Python: My Lives is published by Harper Collins this month.

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