Neil Innes, of Rutles/Monty Python Fame, Subject of Documentary Series

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Neil Innes – dubbed the “Seventh Python” by his pals in the comedy troupe was a frequent collaborator in their group and solo projects. L-R: Terry Gilliam, Neil Innes, Eric Idle, Terry Jones (Photo: Getty Images; used with permission)

Neil Innes – the comedic-musical genius behind the Bonzo Dog Band and the Rutles – who had close creative links and friendships with the Beatles and Monty Python – is the focus of a new 3-episode BBC Radio documentary series. Innes died of a heart attack on December 29, 2019. He had just turned 75.

The series – Neil Innes: Dip My Brain In Joy – will air on BBC Radio on December 2, 9 and 16. The shows will premiere via broadcast in the U.K. on BBC digital radio and simultaneously worldwide via streaming on the BBC website, available free-of-charge. (After their premieres the episodes will then be freely available worldwide for the following month.)

Neil Innes in drag for his tongue-in-cheek portrayal of childhood governess to his pal George Harrison in the 1976 promotional film for Harrison’s song “Crackerbox Palace” (Photo: Dark Horse Records/Umlaut Corporation; used with permission)

The shows tell the Innes story using a combination of archive recordings with Innes and new interviews with his closest friends and colleagues, including Pythons Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam; musicians Rick Wakeman and John Halsey (Barry Wom of the Rutles); comedians Stephen Fry and Adrian Edmondson; producers John Goldstone (Python films), Ian Keill (The Innes Book of Records), Martin Lewis (the Secret Policeman’s Ball series and the Rutles’ Archaeology); and Innes’ wife of 53 years, Yvonne.

There will be focus on Innes’ relationship with the Beatles including his 1967 performance with his band the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in the Beatles’ film Magical Mystery Tour of his co-written song “Death Cab For Cutie,” and his long, close friendship and collaborations with George Harrison.

Watch Innes in drag for his tongue-in-cheek portrayal of childhood governess to his pal in the 1976 promotional film for “Crackerbox Palace”

Dubbed by members of Monty Python as the “Seventh Python,” he contributed to and appeared on several of their albums; in their stage shows and tours; in their Flying Circus TV series and in three of their films (Holy Grail, Life of Brian and Hollywood Bowl). His iconic songs for the comedy troupe – several of which were subsequently incorporated in the hit stage musical Spamalot – include “Knights of the Round Table,” “Brave Sir Robin,” “Arthur’s Song” and “Run Away!”

The shows are narrated by English actress/comedian Diane Morgan – a co-star with Ricky Gervais in the Netflix series After Life.

There are plans underway for a virtual tribute concert in 2021 to be produced by Innes’ longtime friend and occasional collaborator Martin Lewis.

Best Classic Bands Staff

2 Comments so far

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  1. vetken
    #1 vetken 30 November, 2020, 20:43

    Neil Innes was an amazing artist. All the cool kids (The Beatles, Monty Python, Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne, etc) wanted to be his friend. Very nice to see him getting some much deserved love. I’ll be there!

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  2. Chaniphis
    #2 Chaniphis 1 December, 2020, 15:16

    I saw Neil Innes live at the Epstein theatre in Liverpool as Part of Mike Livesley’s Sir Henry of Rawlinson End penned in the 70’s by Viv Stanshal, bandmate of Neil in The Bonzo Dog Do-dah Band. Neil gave another layer of authenticity to Mike’s wonderful one man show. What a good night….

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