John Cleese in his famous
John Cleese in his famous "Ministry of Silly Walks" skit INM

No Ministry of Silly Walks for 74-year-old John Cleese

IT IS one of the most enduring sketches made by Britain's much-loved comedy group Monty Python: John Cleese as a bowler-hatted civil servant hopping and goose-stepping his way around a fictitious Ministry of Silly Walks.

For more than four decades, the sketch has been seen as a benchmark for outlandish physical comedy and, in 2005, was voted the 15th greatest of all time in a poll by Channel 4.

However, the public's love for "silly walks" does not appear to be shared by its chief protagonist.

In a special BBC programme to be shown tonight on the forthcoming reunion of Monty Python, the 74-year-old said he was relieved he would not have to recreate the silly walks sketch in front of 150,000 people during a 10-night gig at the O2 in London.

"The one thing I'm glad I don't have to do is the silly walks sketch," Cleese said. "I pointed out to [fellow Python] Terry Jones - I think it was his idea - the only reason it became so iconic was the brilliance of my performance, because I never thought it was a very good sketch."

But Michael Palin, who went on to win a Bafta for his travel programmes, explained: "John won't be doing the silly walks as he's had his knee operations, and those kicks were pretty acrobatic."

The sketch was first broadcast in the TV series Monty Python's Flying Circus in 1970. Cleese's high kicks were also a trait of jaded hotelier Basil Fawlty in the legendary Fawlty Towers.

All the Pythons said they had enjoyed getting back together to prepare for the new shows.

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