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Python stars in Spamalot battle
Monty Python stars are in a legal battle at the High Court in a dispute over the hit musical Spamalot.
Three of the six Pythons - Eric Idle and Michael Palin, both 69, and Terry Jones, 70 - are due to give evidence in a five-day legal action brought by Mark Forstater, producer of the classic film Monty Python And The Holy Grail.
Mr Forstater is seeking the right to royalties from stage musical Spamalot, a spin-off from the Grail film, expected to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
A judge at London's High Court was told that, "for financial purposes", Mr Forstater should be treated as "the seventh Python".
Mr Forstater is suing Idle, Palin and Jones and the two other surviving Pythons, John Cleese and Terry Gilliam, who are abroad and not expected to give evidence. The sixth member of the team, Graham Chapman, died in 1989.
Spamalot, created by Eric Idle, is described on posters as being "lovingly ripped off" from the Holy Grail, which was made in 1975.
Tom Weisselberg, appearing for Mr Forstater, described the musical in court as "a huge international commercial success", including in the West End and on Broadway. It generated a very significant amount of spin-off merchandising income.
But the Pythons were "unjustifiably attempting to secure more money from Spamalot at the expense of Mr Forstater and his company".
The film producer was made bankrupt in June. Last month, the bankruptcy was annulled and he is now involved in an independent voluntary arrangement (IVA) to deal with his debts.
If Mr Forstater wins his overall claim against the Pythons, it is unofficially estimated that - given the continuing success of Spamalot - it could eventually bring his share of the Grail spin-off profits to the million pound figure.