The remaining members of Monty Python – including Sheffield’s Michael Palin – delighted fans with a nostalgic run through their greatest hits at the first of their comeback gigs.
The cult comedy act – Palin, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones – performed together for the first time in decades at London’s O2 Arena last night.
The show, which featured an extended cast of dancers, a full orchestra and special effects, ended with a singalong version of Always Look On The Bright Side of Life.
Among the classic sketches was the Four Yorkshiremen, comparing their tough upbringing, and the Lumberjack Song.
The audience was also treated to clips from old shows, including the fish-slapping sketch, and some of the biggest cheers of the night were reserved for archive clips featuring sixth Python Graham Chapman, who died in 1989.
The second half of the show kicked off with a spoof ballet – Spam Lake – before a performance of the X-rated Sit On My Face song. Other sketches included 71-year-old Palin, who was born in Ranmoor and attended Birkdale School in Broomhill, and Idle, also aged 71, as lingerie-wearing judges and Idle and 72-year-old Jones performing the ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ routine which inspired a song and dance number.
Fans lapped up every aspect of the show, which included big song and dance routines which allowed time for the numerous costume changes.
Daniel Sanderson, from Hammersmith, said: “They looked like they enjoyed it as well, which was great, so maybe they’ll do more shows.”
The Pythons, who have been open about the financial reasons for the reunion, even had two giant ‘merch-o-meters’ at the side of the stage measuring sales of T-shirts, posters and other items during the interval.
Sally Baxter, from Swindon, said she was just glad to get the chance to see them live at last.
She said: “I saw them on TV when they started out so this was a little bit of my youth up on stage.”
Stephen Fry turned up on stage later in the night during a sketch about a game show host blackmailing misbehaving celebrities, and other famous faces included Professor Brian Cox and Prof Stephen Hawking, who appeared on film after a performance of The Galaxy Song.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus was made for TV between 1969 and 1974 and generations of fans can recite lines and whole sketches.
Chapman died of cancer aged 48, and nine years later the five remaining members shared a stage at the Aspen Comedy Festival in the US.
The final show, on Sunday, July 20, will be broadcast live in thousands of cinemas around the world, including Odeon and The Showroom in Sheffield city centre and Vue at Meadowhall shopping centre.