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Obituaries

Ian MacNaughton, 76; 'Flying Circus' Director

January 05, 2003|From Associated Press

Ian MacNaughton, a television director who helped bring the anarchic "Monty Python's Flying Circus" to the screen, has died. He was 76.

MacNaughton died Dec. 10 in Munich, Germany, from injuries sustained in a 2001 car crash, Monty Python member Terry Jones said in London.

MacNaughton directed all but the first four episodes of "Monty Python's Flying Circus," which ran on BBC television from 1969 to 1974.

In an obituary published in the Guardian newspaper, Jones said the series began with "a certain amount of friction" between the director and the strong-willed comedians.

But MacNaughton soon became a valued member of the Monty Python team, credited with shaping to the troupe's unruly talents -- and defending them to BBC executives.

"He appreciated the spirit of Python: The subversiveness and a touch of anarchy struck a chord with him, and being a bit of a wild Scotsman, he loved the fact that we were trying something new," troupe member Michael Palin said.

MacNaughton also directed the first Python feature film, "And Now for Something Completely Different," in 1971, and a German version of the series, "Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus," in 1971-72.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, MacNaughton spent time in medical school and the Royal Marines before becoming an actor.

He appeared on television and had minor roles in films including "Lawrence of Arabia."

In the 1960s, he moved into directing and carved out a niche in comedy. MacNaughton was highly regarded by comedians; he also worked with volatile comic Spike Milligan on the television series "Q5" and four sequels, and collaborated on the classic 1970s sitcom "Rising Damp."

MacNaughton spent his final years in Germany -- the home of his second wife, Ike Ott -- and directed the English-language series "Follow Me!" for German television.

He was returning from the opening night of his production of Alan Ayckbourn's "Season's Greetings" in Hall, Austria, when he was injured in the car crash, Jones said.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two children from his first marriage.

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