INDEPENDENT 2024-02-15 12:04:08


John Cleese says he and Python co-star Eric Idle ‘despised each other’

Monty Python actor John Cleese has responded to comments by his co-star Eric Idle in which Idle criticised the group’s management for its dwindling finances.

In a post that initially surprised many on social media, Cleese said he and Idle have “always loathed and despised each other”.

In a post on X/Twitter, he said the rest of the Pythons disagreed with Idle’s statements about Holly Gilliam, who is the manager and daughter of their fellow Python star Terry Gilliam, who Idle blamed for having to work at the age of 80.

“I have worked with Holly for the last 10 years, and I find her very efficient, clear-minded, hard-working, and pleasant to have dealings with,” Fawlty Towers star Cleese said in response to Idle’s comments.

“Michael Palin has asked me to to make it clear that he shares this opinion. Terry Gilliam is also in agreement with this.”

When asked about his views on Idle, Cleese wrote on X/Twitter: “We always loathed and despised each other, but it’s only recently that the truth has begun to emerge.” He later clarified in a follow-up post he meant this as a joke.

Meanwhile, Idle shared that he and the Fawlty Towers star hadn’t seen each other in years, as fans wondered if the spat was all a gag.

When a social media follower said the revelation made him sad, Idle said: “Why. It makes me happy,” and added: “I haven’t seen Cleese in seven years.”

The back-and-forth between the former co-stars began last week (10 February), when Idle said he still had to work for his living at the age of 80 despite the troupe’s success.

“I don’t know why people always assume we’re loaded,” he wrote. “Python is a disaster. Spamalot made money 20 years ago. I have to work for my living. Not easy at this age.”

He went on to name and shame the person he felt was responsible for his financial plight: “We own everything we ever made in Python and I never dreamed that at this age the income streams would tail off so disastrously.

“But I guess if you put a Gilliam child in as your manager you should not be so surprised. One Gilliam is bad enough. Two can take out any company.”

However, it appears that the actors still respect each other as comics. When one fan pointed out that Idle had referred to Cleese as “the great John Cleese” in his book The Greedy Bastard Diary: A Comic Tour of America, he responded: “I never said he wasn’t funny. He was. Hilarious. 61 years.”

Alongside Graham Chapman, Fawlty Towers star John Cleese, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas director Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and travel writer Sir Michael Palin, Idle founded the comedy troupe in 1969.

The group came to prominence for the sketch comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which aired on the BBC from 1969 to 1974.

Boy stabbed to death in Bristol by two people wearing masks

A murder investigation has been launched after a 16-year-old has tragically died after he was stabbed by two people wearing masks in a Bristol park on Wednesday evening.

Officers rushed to the scene in the St Philips area of the city near Easton at 6pm to reports of an injured boy. While emergency services attempted to save the teenager’s life, he sadly died at the scene.

Avon and Somerset Police said he was attacked in a nearby park by two people wearing masks, who fled the scene on bicycles. After he was stabbed, the boy ran towards Stapleton Road where he collapsed while a motorist attempted to help him.

The incident took place in the St Philips area of the city near Easton, Avon and Somerset Police said. It comes after two other teenage boys were killed in the Knowle West area of the city in January.

Mason Rist, 15, and Max Dixon, 16, were stabbed to death on the night of Saturday 27 January, with a dozen people arrested since then.

A police spokesperson said: “We were called by the ambulance service at 6pm to a report that a boy had been found injured on the A420 West Street. Despite the best efforts of emergency services, he sadly died at the scene.

“The victim was attacked in Rawnsley Park by two people wearing masks who then left the scene on bicycles. After being attacked, the victim has then run to Stapleton Road where a motorist has assisted him before he collapsed in West Street.

“Detectives have now launched a murder investigation to identify those responsible and a critical incident has been declared.”

Have you been affected by this? Email tara.cobham@independent.co.uk

Officers continue to make enquiries this morning, including reviewing CCTV footage and there will be increased patrols in the area.

Bristol Commander, Supt Mark Runacres, said: “Tragically, we have lost another young life from our city in utterly horrific circumstances.

“Our thoughts are with the victim’s family at what will be an unimaginably difficult time and officers will continue to support them.

“We are committed to bringing those responsible to justice and we will be working tirelessly to that end.

“While we are keeping an open mind, there is no clear evidence to suggest this is linked to other recent incidents in the city.”

The A420 was closed between West Street and the Lawrence Hill roundabout to allow crime scene investigators to examine the scene but has since reopened overnight. A cordon remains in place in Rawnsley Park.

The force said the incident is a stark reminder of the “horrific impact” knife crime has the local community.

It comes only weeks after the death of teenagers Mason Rist and Max Dixon were stabbed during an incident in Ilminster Avenue, Knowle West, Bristol, on the evening of Saturday January 27.

Local residents went to help the teenagers and police were on the scene within minutes to provide first aid. They were taken by ambulance to Southmead Hospital and Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, where they died in the early hours of Sunday.

A total number of 13 people have now been arrested as part of the related murder inquiry.

More follows on this breaking news story…

Pontins racially discriminated against Irish Travellers by making ‘undesirable’ guest list

A holiday camp operator routinely racially discriminated against holidaymakers by drawing up a list of “undesirable” names, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has found.

Pontins’ staff were forced to refuse or cancel bookings from holidaymakers whose name, accent or address indicated they were part of the Irish Traveller community, according to a new ECHR report.

The company “deliberately, openly and repeatedly broke the law” by breaching the Equality Act 2010 in its discrimination against this ethnic group, said Chairwoman Baroness Kishwer Falkner.

The holiday park operator has now apologised after it was served a legal notice for engaging in what the human rights watchdog described as “shocking overt race discrimination” towards Irish Travellers.

Have you been affected by this? Email tara.cobham@independent.co.uk

The investigation comes after a whistleblower in March 2020 disclosed an ‘Undesirable Guest List’ with 40 names of Irish origin that staff had to follow, with some of this discrimination specifically targeting Irish Travellers, while other discriminatory policies were aimed at Gypsies and Travellers more broadly.

Pontins, owned by Britannia Jinky Jersey Ltd, also introduced a policy in 2018, which required guests to be on the electoral roll, a practice that was found to be discriminatory against Gypsies and Travellers, as people from these communities are far less likely to be registered to vote.

The ECHR has now ordered the firm to issue a public apology to the Gypsy and Traveller communities and introduce equality training, with a deadline for an action plan given as 9 April – otherwise Pontins could face criminal charges.

Commenting on the investigation, Baroness Falkner said: “The discrimination faced by Irish Travellers, and other members of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, has no place in 21st-century Britain. The impact of the discrimination faced by those who were refused bookings at Pontins cannot be overstated. People told us that the experience was ‘painful’ and made them feel ‘dehumanised’.

“As the equality regulator for Great Britain, it is our mission to ensure people are treated equally and fairly. Our investigation, with the help of a brave whistleblower, has shown that Pontins comprehensively failed to treat its customers equally and fairly. At the Equality and Human Rights Commission, we will always challenge such discrimination.

“Pontins broke the law. Pontins must now put right their wrongs. We will continue to hold them, and others who think they are above the law, to account.”

The commission said it was “deeply concerned” about the practices uncovered, but the charity Friends, Families and Travellers said while the findings were “deeply saddening”, they did not come as a surprise.

Chris McDonagh, campaigns officer at the charity, said they are “certain” Pontins are not the only providers operating such discriminatory policies.

A spokesperson for Pontins said: “We are in the process of reviewing the unlawful act notice and investigation report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The specific incidents reported by the EHRC are historic issues, pre-dating 2018.

“The call centre where the incidents took place has now closed and the majority of the staff involved have now left Pontins. We apologise to all who may have been affected. Pontins is committed to ensuring ongoing compliance with the Equality Act 2010.”

Harry and Meghan pictured in Canada after sparking fresh royal title row

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were spotted hitting the slopes yesterday in preparation for next year’s Invictus Games amid backlash for their website rebrand.

The pair were pictured smiling in Whistler, Vancouver as they met athletes at the Blackcomb resort in British Columbia in preparation for next year’s winter games.

Harry founded the Paralympic-style sporting competition in 2014 for injured and sick veterans to aid their recovery.

The Duke of Sussex tried sit-down skiing, a form of the sport that allows disabled people to participate.

It comes amid backlash for the relaunch of their website from Archewell to Sussex.com after critics pointed out the couple were told to drop the use of HRH when they quit as working royals.

Meghan Markle responded to the criticism and praised the “attention to detail” and “creativity and care” of the designers

She said: “They’re not just designers; they are collaborators who elevate your ideas into visual identities. They’re a very special company. Plus they’re Canadian, so I’m a fan.”

It comes as King Charles returned from the capital to Sandringham after having his latest bout of cancer treatment and was pictured smiling with the Queen arriving at Clarence House.

Kyiv sends more troops into fierce battle for key city Avdiivka – latest

Ukraine has rotated in fresh forces to push back a rapid Russian takeover of a key frontline town in the eastern region of Donetsk.

Ukraine’s 3rd Assault Brigade announced this morning that it had been “urgently redeployed to strengthen Ukrainian troops in the Avdiivka area”.

“The situation in the city at the time the brigade was established was extremely critical,” the statement read.

“Separate battalions of the 3rd Armored Brigade raided the enemy-occupied areas of Avdiivka. The enemy’s forces in our section are approximately 7 brigades.”

Russian forces have pushed into the northeast and south of the city over the past fortnight and look to be accelerating their attack through the area this week.

Ukrainian war tracker DeepState posted an updated map last night of Avdiivka that suggested Russian forces had almost severed the city in two.

Ukraine’s 110th Brigade have been defending from within the city for almost two years but the newly-appointed military chief Oleksandr Syrskyi said yesterday that they had made “important decisions aimed at strengthening the combat capabilities” in Avdiivka. The 110th is believed to have now been moved back.

Unmissable New York State experiences

Is David Cameron’s policy on Palestine more progressive than Labour?

Lord Cameron was a controversial as well as surprising appointment as foreign secretary last November. The fact that he’s not directly accountable to the elected House of Commons triggered legitimate complaints, while the Tory right resented someone they thought a dangerous Remainer centrist being brought into government (notwithstanding the fact that it was he who granted them their in/out EU referendum).

In any case, Cameron, as a former prime minister, seemed to have been put in to amplify post-Brexit Britain’s voice in the world, and he has quietly set about that task by starting some radical initiatives. He’s taken a bold message on Ukraine directly to the US Congress, for example. In a remarkable departure, the old smoothie has declared in their journal, The Hill: “I am going to drop all diplomatic niceties. I urge Congress to pass it [an aid to Ukraine bill]…I do not want us to show the weakness displayed against Hitler in the 1930s.” But his emerging diplomacy in the Middle East is more portentous still…

We must throw harsh light and scrutiny on sexual abuse in hospitals

Such is the nature of the crimes, we may never know the true extent of the sexual abuse of vulnerable people in mental health hospitals. But collaborative investigations by The Independent and Sky News do go some way to tracing the extent of the scandal – and it is far wider than previously supposed.

Recently, an exposé by The Independent revealed that there had been almost 20,000 allegations of sexual assault and harassment on mental health wards in the past five years. Now we can add to that grim, almost unimaginable scale of callousness and human misery a further 4,000 such cases – which have been reported by patients and staff in private hospitals. Given that many of the victims are in a poor position to press their complaints, and the usual institutional instinct is to ignore, deny, and then cover up such incidents, it may be safely assumed that this total of 24,000 or so incidents is an underestimate – and quite possibly a grievous one.

The allegations, of which there are so many, seem well corroborated. The clinical negligence firm Leigh Day, a major player in the field, has said that across the cases it sees, NHS trusts are negligent – not only of those in their care, but towards their statutory duties under the European Convention of Human Rights (which would require them to ensure allegations of sexual harm are “coherently investigated”).