Monty Python actor-director Terry Jones diagnosed with dementia

Monty Python members Terry Jones (left) and Eric Idle are pictured together in December 2012.
Monty Python members Terry Jones (left) and Eric Idle are pictured together in December 2012.PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Actor and director Terry Jones, a founding member of Britain's zany Monty Python comedy team, has been diagnosed with a form of dementia that restricts his capacity to speak, his representative said.

Jones, 74, is a member of Monty Python's Flying Circus, formed in the late 1960s with John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam.

A spokesperson for Jones said the comedian had been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia, which is a variant of frontotemporal dementia.

"This illness affects his ability to communicate and he is no longer able to give interviews," the representative said in a statement on Thursday (Sept 22).

The National Aphasia Association describes primary progressive aphasia as a neurological disorder of language that commonly progresses to a near total inability to speak. It is not a form of Alzheimer's disease.

"Most people with PPA maintain ability to take care of themselves, pursue hobbies, and, in some instances, remain employed," the association says on its website.

The Monty Python TV shows, with sketches about dead parrots and the Ministry of Silly Walks, were revered for their originality and are now ranked among the best TV shows of all time.

Jones went on to direct the team in the irreverent Python films Life Of Brian, and The Meaning of Life.

Jones' condition was made known in a press release from the Welsh branch of the British film and TV academy Bafta, which said that Jones would get an honorary award at a ceremony in October.