Michael Palin slates head of BBC comedy for 'Oxbridge Pythons' jibe

Ben Arnold
Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones from Monty Python (Credit: PA)

Michael Palin has taken aim at the BBC’s head of comedy after comments he made about Monty Python being ‘white blokes’ who wouldn’t get hired today.

Shane Allen made the remarks in reference to the approaching 50th anniversary of the ground-breaking comedy troupe.

“If you’re going to assemble a team now it’s not going to be six Oxbridge white blokes. It’s going to be a diverse range of people who reflect the modern world,” he told The Independent.

Graham Chapman, John Cleese and Eric Idle were all educated at Cambridge, while Palin and Terry Jones went to Oxford.

But Palin has taken issue with the comments.

“What does he mean? If you’ve had a good education and you’re white you’re not able to write comedy?” he told the Radio Times.

“What are they going to say? ‘Oh God! The man who wrote that’s an Etonian.’ ‘But it’s hilarious.’ ‘It’s no good, he’s an Etonian!’”

Palin also argued that the landscape has changed radically for commissioning comedy at the BBC, and that the days of taking on a whole series without some editorial intervention are gone.

“They want to know what you’re writing about, how long it will take, how much it will cost. It has to be checked for political correctness, ‘compliance’, ‘diversity’. It’s much more controlled,” he said.

Palin was speaking ahead of his role in ITV’s forthcoming production of Vanity Fair, the first episode of which airs this coming Sunday.

Read more
Injured MacGyver stuntman out of coma
Mayim Bialik ‘feels weird’ about Big Bang Theory ending
Roseanne spin-off could ‘kill off’ her character