EXCLUSIVE: Monty Python to perform Spanish Inquisition sketch live for first time ever at O2
14:14 16 May 2014
Losing the chief weapons of fear and surprise, Michael Palin has revealed surviving members of Monty Python will attempt to perform the Spanish Inquisition sketch live for the first time ever at their hotly anticipated O2 reunion gigs this summer.
Speaking to an intimate audience of 200 people at Carlton Primary School in Camden last Friday, Palin said the legendary comedy troupe will attempt the classic sketch live.
It is one of Monty Python’s best loved acts, in which Palin and fellow inquisitors dressed in red capes burst into a drawing room and declare: “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise, fear and surprise; two chief weapons, fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency! Er, among our chief weapons are: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and near fanatical devotion to the Pope! Um, I’ll come in again...”
Palin also revealed the Pythons hope to include the late Graham Chapman, who died in 1989, in the live show using the O2’s large onstage screens.
The first O2 gig sold out in 43.5 seconds when tickets went on sale earlier this year and will see all the surviving Pythons perform live together for the first time in 40 years.
Palin spoke at Carlton Primary in Gospel Oak to a sell-out audience, including one female fan who had flown all the way from New York, to raise money for a new sensory garden the school hopes to build.
The Python star and travel writer has been a patron for more than a decade and is a fervent supporter of the school’s work within a catchment area of north London that includes a diverse intake.
“I’ve lived near the school for a long time and one of our neighbours was on the board of governors and introduced me to the school and I just from the first moment I came here I really warmed to it,” Palin told the Ham&High.
“There’s something about the place. It looks very big and gaunt from outside but there’s lots of pictures around and it’s very warm.
“What I particularly liked was that there were children from all over the world.
“Talking about my travels was great because I learned a lot about countries I’d been to and some I hadn’t.
“What’s been done here over the last few years has been very inspiring and the sensory garden will just add to the fact that the school is always thinking of something to do to improve.
“I think for a lot of children who have recently come to this country it’s really important for them to have somewhere welcoming for their first school and that’s what Carlton does really well and it makes me quite proud to be associated with it.
“It seems such a happy school and I’m trying to do everything I can to keep it going in that way.”
The talk fell on the 80th birthday of Alan Bennett, widely regarded as one of Britain’s greatest living playwrights, and the Python star publicly praised his friend as “one of the most accomplished writers in this country today”.
But Palin remembered recognition was not always so forthcoming as he recounted filming with the prolific dramatist in the 1980s.
Palin was cast as a chiropodist alongside Dame Maggie Smith in Bennett’s comedy A Private Function, filmed in Yorkshire where Bennett would often visit the set.
The Python star remembered having his trousers smeared with sardine oil, irresistible to a particularly stubborn co-star – a pig who refused to be tempted into a car during a scene.
He described how smelly fish oil was slopped onto the beautiful leather interior and finally the pig jumped onto the front seat.
But Palin balked as the car’s owner approached, wondering how he would explain the smell of “pig s*** and sardine oil”.
Meanwhile a nervous Bennett stood up a hill chewing his tie.
So it was that the car owner asked who the writer of the film was, to Palin’s reply “It’s Alan Bennett, he’s up there”.
His response: “Well he’s no Ibsen is he!”
Palin spoke for almost two hours about his recent travels in Brazil and Monty Python’s TV series and films before signing autographs and posing for photographs with fans.
The talk raised £6,000 for the school’s fundraising efforts.