In Harton Village, South Shields, County Durham, on 29th March, 1943, Eric Idle was born to Ernest Idle, who served in the Royal Air Force during World War II, and a health visitor called Nora Barron. Unfortunately his father was killed in 1945 on Christmas Eve in a hitchhiking accident. His mother struggled to raise her child while working a full time job, so at the age of seven, Idle was boarded at the Royal Wolverhampton School. At that time, the school was a charitable foundation that helped children who had lost one or both of their parents. Idle commented that it was a harsh environment for a child, and he got on by being smart and subversive to authority figures which helped to train him for his later career.
SUCCESS OUT OF BOREDOM
Out of sheer boredom, he studied hard and got himself a place on an English course at Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge and was later invited to become a member of the Cambridge University Footlights Club. It was there that he met his future Python colleagues John Cleese and Graham Chapman. He later became president of the club in 1965 and was the first to let women join up. While at Cambridge, Idle starred opposite Michael Palin and Terry Jones in the children’s TV show Do Not Adjust Your Set, for which Terry Gilliam produced the Animations. Along with Cleese, Chapman, Palin and Jones, Idle formed the group known as Monty Python.
MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS
When writing for Monty Python, Idle preferred to work alone, but the lack of a partner sometimes presented trouble for him when showing his material to the group, which Cleese admitted was a little unfair at times, since he only had one vote on whether or not to go with the sketch. But Idle was very independent and worked best on his own.
Due to his age, Idle was closest to the teenage and student fanbase that followed Python. Maybe due to this, many of the sketches involving contemporary and often ‘naughty’ subjects were written by Idle, such as “Nudge Nudge”. Idle was also the creator of many of the Python’s songs, perhaps most famously Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, which featured at the end of the 1979 Python film Life of Brian. Python also made two other feature films called Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983).
Since Python, Idle has done work for Radio and TV, including a sketch show on BBC2 entitled Rutland Weekend Television which spawned an affectionate parody band of The Beatles, called The Rutles, which became popular, even with fans of The Beatles changing the sleeves on their LPs to show The Rutles. Later on, Idle took starring roles in popular movies such as Nuns on the Run (1990) alongside Robbie Coltrane.
As well as incredible successes, Idle was in the starring role for the 1998 film Burn Hollywood Burn, which was awarded the Worst Picture of the Decade at the Golden Raspberry Awards, which added to the four other ‘Razzies’ it won at the ceremony. Idle has sometimes been criticized by the other Python members for commercializing the legacy.
Idle still works very hard and is highly regarded as a great actor, comedian and songwriter, and in his personal life, has two children. His son is called Carey, born in 1973 to his first wife of six years, Lyn Ashley, whom he married in 1969. His daughter was born in 1990 to his current wife, Tania Kosevich, with whom he married in 1981.
“Nudge Nudge” – try acting today at London Academy