Monty Python star Terry Jones has died at the age of 77, his agent has said.
Jones, who founded the comedy group and directed three of its feature films, announced in 2016 that he had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), which restricted his speech.
“We are deeply saddened to have to announce the passing of beloved husband and father, Terry Jones,” his family said in a statement.
“Terry passed away on the evening of 21 January 2020 at the age of 77 with his wife Anna Soderstrom by his side after a long, extremely brave but always good humoured battle with a rare form of dementia, FTD.”
“Over the past few days his wife, children, extended family and many close friends have been constantly with Terry as he gently slipped away at his home in north London.”
“We have all lost a kind, funny, warm, creative and truly loving man whose uncompromising individuality, relentless intellect and extraordinary humour has given pleasure to countless millions across six decades,” the statement continued.
“His work with Monty Python, his books, films, television programmes, poems and other work will live on forever, a fitting legacy to a true polymath.”
Born in Wales in 1942, Jones met Michael Palin while the pair were studying at Oxford.
In 1969 the pair joined John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam to collaborate on a sketch show for the BBC, which was eventually given the title Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Jones went on to direct three of the troupe’s feature films, co-directing Monty Python and the Holy Grail alongside Gilliam, and then solo directing Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.
Jones played Brian’s mother in Life of Brian, delivering the often-quoted line: “He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!”.
After Monty Python, Jones went on to create the TV series Ripping Yarns, directed films including the Wind in the Willows, and made a series of documentaries, many of which focused on medieval history. Jones also wrote almost 20 children’s books.
He is survived by his wife Anna Soderstrom, their daughter, and his two children from his previous marriage to Alison Telfer.