John Cleese is rightly regarded as one of Britain's most important comedians of the 20th century, and he is still a huge influence on comics today.
Best known for his roles in Monty Python's Flying Circus, Fawlty Towers and A Fish Called Wanda, John is also one of the best After-Dinner and Business speakers around and delivers his presentation Creativity and Corporate Learning with razor-sharp humour - as you’d expect! John is a master of applying humour to business situations, having founded Video Arts, which pioneered the technique in business training videos. Today, the company is one of the world's largest providers of business training programmes, including training videos, e-learning courses and learning platforms.
Born and brought-up in Weston-Super-Mare, John entered Downing College, Cambridge in 1960, studying law. During his first year, he contributed material for the Cambridge University 'Footlights' club's review; he then became one of the main actors and writers of the 1963 Footlights review A Clump of Plinths.
John subsequently wrote for the ITV shows The Frost Report (1966-1967) and At Last the 1948 Show (1967-1968), which also starred Graham Chapman. Meanwhile, on radio John featured with soon-to-be Goodies Tim-Brooke Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie in the satirical show I'm Sorry, I'll Read that Again. These TV and radio shows proved to be precursors for a new style of satire with a surrealistic edge. Noticing this trend, the BBC's comedy advisor, Barry Took, brought together Cleese and Chapman with several of the cast of another ITV show Do Not Adjust Your Set (Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin) to form the core cast (along with American-born illustrator Terry Gilliam) of a sketch-based comedy series that revolutionised TV comedy - Monty Python's Flying Circus. The programme ran to 45 episodes across four series, from 1969 to 1974, and led to three Python films.
In Faulty Towers (1974 and 1979), John played a frustrated, arrant snob of a hotel owner who is constantly at war with his bullying wife (played by Prunella Scales), various long-term residents and guests, and a Spanish waiter with a derisory command of English. Although it only lasted for two series - a deliberate policy on Cleese's behalf - the show remains a sitcom classic that is repeated over and over across countless networks.
In the 1980s, John appeared on various TV shows as a guest, most notably the charity event The Secret Policeman's Ball (1981) and its various sequels. In addition to the three Monty Python films, he has appeared in, and written the scripts for, several UK and American films. He was Robin Hood in The Time Bandits (directed by Terry Gilliam, 1981) and a chronologically-obsessed head teacher in Clockwise (1986). But it was as the barrister who becomes sexually embroiled with a gem thief's moll in A Fish Called Wanda (1988) that Cleese scored his biggest film hit, rocketing him to even greater international stardom. In the 1990s, he continued to criss-cross the Atlantic to appear in, write for and produce films such as Fierce Creatures (1997) and the Bond film The World is not Enough (1999). Later TV work includes several stints on BBC's Comic Relief and also as Dr Liam Neesam in 3rd Rock from the Sun.
To book John as an After-Dinner Speaker or as a Speaker for Corporate Events, contact Prime Performers via the online booking enquiry form or alternatively call 020 7251 8222 for further information.
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Lady Michelle Mone OBE