Date of Birth : Mar 29th 1943
Born in South Shields, County Durham on 29th March 1943. When he was two years old, tragedy struck when his father, a serving member of the Royal Air Force, was killed in a car crash on Christmas Eve.
Until he was seven years old, Idle’s childhood was spent in Oldham and Wallasey. At seven, he was sent to the Royal School, Wolverhampton as a boarder. He would spend the next 12 years there (Idle would later describe it as “a Midlands semi-orphanage”). Eric proved an intelligent pupil, with a natural flair for English.
In 1962, Idle won a place at Pembroke College, Cambridge to read English. He soon decided to join the Cambridge Footlights (he was auditioned by Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor), and was admitted in March 1963. Idle quickly rose in the Footlight ranks, working with David Gooderson, Richard Eyre and Humphrey Barclay, who would later help in the formation of the Python team. Despite having the difficult task of following Chapman and Cleese’s phenomenally successful revue show A Clump of Plinths – later changed to Cambridge Circus (which had played the West End and had gone on tour in New Zealand), Idle lead a triumphant production at the 1964 Edinburgh Festival (where he first met Palin and Jones), and the next year was elected chairman of the Footlights. In this role, Idle made many changes about the way the Footlights operated, including throwing the doors open to women for the first time (including celebrated feminist author Germaine Greer).
After graduating, Idle took to the stage. He toured with the 1965 revue My Girl Herbert before starting cabaret at the Blue Angel in London. From there he moved on to the stage show Oh What a Lovely War!, joining a pretty much all ex-Cambridge cast assembled by Footlights contemporary Richard Eyre. He then went on to do a Christmas season with the farce One for the Pot – an experience he didn’t enjoy. At the same time Idle was writing for the radio show I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again, before being co-opted on to the writing team of The Frost Report to write “spontaneous and funny ad-libs for David Frost”. This in turn led to him writing for the sitcom No That’s Me Over There – a vehicle for Ronnie Corbett. Idle move on to writing for Do Not Adjust Your Set, alongside Michael Palin and Terry Jones. It was whilst working on this that Idle met Terry Gilliam and introduced him to Humphrey Barclay. Then Idle was hooked up with 5 other rather odd people to make a television series…