And now for something completely different... the Physician and Surgeon's Almanac for January 8th, 2013.
Educated at Melton Mowbray Grammar School , Graham studied medicine at St Bartholomew's Medical College and later graduated as a physician from Emmanuel College at Cambridge. He did not go on to pursue a career in medicine, but comedy writing and acting as one of the founding members of a landmark BBC television comedy series...
A fan of radio comedies as an early age, Chapman stated "from about the age of seven or eight I used to be an avid listener of a radio program called The Goon Show. In fact, at that stage I wanted to be a Goon".
During the 1960s, Chapman distinguished himself a comedy writer for the BBC, contributing to sketch comedy television and radio shows like I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again, The Frost Report, At Last the 1948 Show and Doctor in the House.
With success at comedy writing and as cast members for programs like The Frost Report and At Last The 1948 Show, the BBC offered Chapman and his writing partner, John Cleese, the opportunity to develop their own comedy program.
In 1969, Chapman and Cleese, joined Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin to create the Monty Python's Flying Circus television series.
The show was a collaborative effort, with different Python members responsible for elements of the creative process. Graham was best known for writing in partnership with Cleese, playing authoritarian characters, helping other writers decide which skits were funny or not and introducing absurd ideas to make the sketches of others funnier; including a sketch in which a man tries to return a defective toaster to a store. Graham suggested instead that the customer attempts to return a dead bird which later became famously known as “the Dead Parrot Sketch”.
Graham Chapman was one of the first celebrities to openly acknowledge his homosexuality, often alluding to his sexual orientation while playing comic characters and supporting gay rights activities in Britain. His alcoholism, however, was not as well tolerable by his Monty Python co-creators. His drunkeness often affected his ability to remember lines, and alcohol withdrawl limited his ability to perform.
Graham Chapman died of spinal and throat cancer on October 4, 1989, with his partner, his brother, sister-in-law, John Cleese and Michael Palin at his bedside.
In his eulogy to Chapman, John Cleese remaked …
“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…”