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Highgate Monty Python star and ‘Renaissance comedian’ Terry Jones dies at 77 after dementia battle

Terry Jones attending the Anna Nicole Opera, at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Terry Jones attending the Anna Nicole Opera, at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Highgate's very own Python Terry Jones has died aged 77.

Former Monty Python stars Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, John Cleese and Michael Palin attending a charity screening of their film Life Of Brian at London's Leicester Square to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Picture: Justin Williams/PA WireFormer Monty Python stars Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, John Cleese and Michael Palin attending a charity screening of their film Life Of Brian at London's Leicester Square to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Picture: Justin Williams/PA Wire

The comedian had been suffering from dementia since 2015. His family announced his death in a statement this morning.

They said: "We are deeply saddened to have to announce the passing of beloved husband and father, Terry Jones.

"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."

FTD - frontotemporal dementia - sees cells in the brain lose function and affects speech and expression.

Terry Jones with Michael Palin at a screening of 'The Brothers Grimm', at the Odeon West End Cinema, Leicester Square. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA WireTerry Jones with Michael Palin at a screening of 'The Brothers Grimm', at the Odeon West End Cinema, Leicester Square. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Terry, who was perhaps most famous as a member of the Monty Python comic troupe, also wrote children's novels, wrote and directed films, and worked extensively in TV.

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The Jones family continued: "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."

His wife Anna and children Bill, Sally and Siri thanked carers and medical staff for looking after "an extraordinarily talented and happy man".

Terry Jones with Michael Palin holding his Fellowship Award at the Arqiva British Academy Television Awards 2013 at the Royal Festival Hall. Picture: Ian West/PA WireTerry Jones with Michael Palin holding his Fellowship Award at the Arqiva British Academy Television Awards 2013 at the Royal Festival Hall. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

Close friend, fellow Python Sir Michael Palin, who lives in Gospel Oak, said in a statement: "Terry was one of my closest, most valued friends. He was kind, generous, supportive and passionate about living life to the full.

"He was far more than one of the funniest writer-performers of his generation, he was the complete Renaissance comedian - writer, director, presenter, historian, brilliant children's author, and the warmest, most wonderful company you could wish to have.

"I feel very fortunate to have shared so much of my life with him and my heart goes out to Anna, Alison and all his family."

Famous for characters such as Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson, the comedian was born in Colwyn Bay, North Wales, in 1942, before moving to Claygate, Surrey, at the age of five.

At Oxford University he became involved in the theatre scene and met Sir Michael Palin, with whom he went on to write TV series Ripping Yarns. Later, Jones worked on TV shows like The Frost Report, Do Not Adjust Your Set, Broaden Your Mind and The Complete And Utter History of Britain, before Monty Python's Flying Circus first aired in 1969.

Additional reporting by PA Media.