Monty Python

Monty Python’s John Cleese, 82, admits he can’t do trademark silly walk any more because of ‘two artificial hips, an artificial knee and a heavily infected big toe’

More than five decades on from its appearance on television in 1969, Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks sketch still prompts a laugh.

The skit sees star John Cleese skewer self-important inefficiency by walking to his bureaucratic place of work in an exaggerated fashion whilst wearing a bowler hat and carrying a briefcase.

But now, the 82-year-old star has admitted that, due to the physical toll imposed by his advancing years, he can no longer do his trademark walk. 

Speaking in an upcoming episode of BBC Radio 4’s Private Passions, Cleese said if he tried to do the sketch it would be a ‘big disappointment’ because he now has ‘two artificial hips and an artificial knee and a heavily infected left big toe.’

He added to presenter Michael Berkeley: ‘This would not be the ideal moment to ask me.’ 

More than five decades on from its appearance on television in 1969, Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks sketch still prompts a laugh. The skit sees star John Cleese skewer self-important inefficiency by walking to his bureaucratic place of work in an exaggerated fashion whilst wearing a bowler hat and carrying a briefcase
More than five decades on from its appearance on television in 1969, Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks sketch still prompts a laugh. The skit sees star John Cleese skewer self-important inefficiency by walking to his bureaucratic place of work in an exaggerated fashion whilst wearing a bowler hat and carrying a briefcase

Cleese had already stopped doing the walk during live shows and during Monty Python’s live tour in 2014 the sketch was performed by younger dancers instead.

The famous sketch sees Cleese walking to his place of work, The Ministry of Silly Walks, which is responsible for using taxpayers’ money to develop new silly walks. 

Once at work, he passes other employees all doing their own silly walks, before arriving at his office. 

There he finds a man played by fellow Python star Michael Palin waiting for him.

He apologises for the delay, explaining that his walk has become particularly silly and it takes longer for him to reach his destination.

Palin then explains that he has a silly walk he wishes to develop with grant money. He shows Cleese the walk – but he says it is not particularly silly.

But now, the 82-year-old star (pictured in 2019) has admitted that, due to the physical toll imposed by his advancing years, he can no longer do his trademark walk. Speaking in an upcoming episode of BBC Radio 4's Private Passions, Cleese said if he tried to do the sketch it would be a 'big disappointment' because he now has 'two artificial hips and an artificial knee and a heavily infected left big toe'
But now, the 82-year-old star (pictured in 2019) has admitted that, due to the physical toll imposed by his advancing years, he can no longer do his trademark walk. Speaking in an upcoming episode of BBC Radio 4’s Private Passions, Cleese said if he tried to do the sketch it would be a ‘big disappointment’ because he now has ‘two artificial hips and an artificial knee and a heavily infected left big toe’

He famously said: ‘The right leg isn’t silly at all, and the left leg merely does a forward aerial half-turn every alternate step.’

He tells Palin that he does not believe the ministry can help him, because his walk is not silly enough and funding is short.      

The Monty Python group also included Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman and Terry Jones. 

Chapman passed away aged 48 in 1989 after a cancer battle, whilst Jones died last year at the age of 77 after suffering from dementia. 

The Ministry of Silly Walks sketch featured on the TV show Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

The show proved hugely popular and led to a series of films that included Monty Python and the Holy Grail in 1975, the Life of Brian in 1979 and the Meaning of Life in 1983.  

Cleese is also much-loved for his role in TV show Fawlty Towers for four years from 1975.  

The Ministry of Silly Walks sketch featured on the TV show Monty Python's Flying Circus. Above: Cleese (centre) is seen on the set of the Flying Circus with fellow Python stars Michael Palin (front right), Terry Gilliam (back right), Eric Idle (back, centre), Graham Chapman  (back left) and Terry Jones (front left)
The Ministry of Silly Walks sketch featured on the TV show Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Above: Cleese (centre) is seen on the set of the Flying Circus with fellow Python stars Michael Palin (front right), Terry Gilliam (back right), Eric Idle (back, centre), Graham Chapman  (back left) and Terry Jones (front left)

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