Monty Python member Graham Chapman’s last words were “Sorry for saying fuck” Chapman died on 4 October 1989 after suffering from tonsil cancer and secondary spinal cancer. Chapman had several chemotherapy treatments and tumour removal surgeries within the final months of his life, and at one point, he used a wheelchair. Weeks before Chapman’s death, his cancer was declared terminal. Chapman had produced scenes for the 20th anniversary of the first broadcast of Flying Circus, the final time he appeared on television, but he became ill again three days before his death. Those present at the time of Chapman’s death in a Maidstone hospital included his brother, sister-in-law, partner David Sherlock, and his former Python fellows John Cleese and Michael Palin, who had to be led out of the room to deal with their grief. Terry Jones and Peter Cook had visited earlier that day.
Chapman’s death occurred on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the first broadcast of Flying Circus, and Jones called it “”the worst case of party-pooping in all history””. It was reported that Chapman’s last words were: “”Sorry for saying fuck””, to a nurse who accidentally stuck a needle in his arm shortly before he died.
The five surviving Python members had decided to stay away from Chapman’s private funeral to prevent it from becoming a media circus and to give his family some privacy. They sent a wreath in the shape of the famous Python foot with the message: “”To Graham from the other Pythons. Stop us if we’re getting too silly””. They held a private memorial service for Chapman in St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London two months after his death, with a chorus of the Chinese version of the hymn “”Jerusalem”” (“”… Bling me my speal, oh crowds unford, bling me my chaliot of file…””). Cleese delivered his eulogy to Chapman, which began as follows:
Graham Chapman, co-author of the “”Parrot Sketch””, is no more. He has ceased to be. Bereft of life, he rests in peace. He’s kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky. And I guess that we’re all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, of such capability for kindness, of such unusual intelligence, should now so suddenly be spirited away at the age of only forty-eight, before he’d achieved many of the things of which he was capable, and before he’d had enough fun.
Well, I feel that I should say: nonsense. Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard, I hope he fries. And the reason I feel I should say this is he would never forgive me if I didn’t, if I threw away this glorious opportunity to shock you all on his behalf. Anything for him, but mindless good taste.
Cleese continued after a break from the laughter in the audience and claimed that Chapman had whispered in his ear the night before while he was writing the speech, saying:
All right, Cleese. You say you’re very proud of being the very first person ever to say “”shit”” on British television. If this service is really for me, just for starters, I want you to become the first person ever at a British memorial service to say “”fuck””.
Palin later spoke after Cleese, saying that he liked to think that Chapman was there with them all that day—””or rather, he will be in about 25 minutes””, a reference to Chapman’s habitual lateness when he and the other Pythons were working together. Choking back tears, Idle stated that Chapman had thought that Palin talked too much and had died rather than listen to him any more. Idle also led the other surviving Pythons and Chapman’s friends and family in a rendition of “”Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”” from the film The Life of Brian. Not to be outdone by Cleese, Idle was heard saying during the song’s close: “”I’d just like to be the last person at this meeting to say ‘fuck’. Thank you very much. God bless you, Graham. On 31 December 1999, Chapman’s ashes were rumoured to have been blasted into the skies in a rocket. In reality, Sherlock scattered Chapman’s ashes on Snowdon, North Wales, on 18 June 2005