Birth Date: March 29, 1943 / Age: 71
Birth Place: South Shields, County Durham, England
Biography: He was born on March 29, 1943, in South Shields, County Durham, England. Idle's father had been in the RAF and survived the Second World War, only to be killed in a car crash shortly afterwards. His mother had difficulty coping with a full-time job and raising a child, so at the age of seven she enrolled him into the The Royal Wolverhampton School as a boarder.
The school had begun life as a Victorian orphanage and during Idle's time it was a charitable foundation solely dedicated to the welfare of orphans and semi-orphans. Its pupils, who were mainly the children of dead English soldiers, still referred to it as the 'Ophney'.
"It was a physically abusive, bullying, harsh environment for a kid to grow up in," Idle is quoted as saying, "I got used to dealing with groups of boys and getting on with life in unpleasant circumstances and being smart and funny and subversive at the expense of authority." All this turned out to be the perfect training for his future career.
Idle maintains that boredom drove him to work hard and he eventually won a place at Cambridge, where he met other members of the groundbreaking British comedy team Monty Python. Unlike the other Pythons, who wrote in pairs (Cleese/Chapman and Palin/Jones), Idle wrote alone. His work was often closely associated with long, complex speeches or catchy one-liners. Amongst the many Python sketches written by Idle is the "Wink Wink Nudge Nudge" sketch, the title of which has become a catchphrase.
Eric Idle attended Pembroke College at The University of Cambridge, where he studied English. At Pembroke College he was invited to join the prestigious Cambridge University Footlights Club by fellow Pembroke College students, the then 1963 President of the Footlights Club, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Footlights Club member Bill Oddie.
"I'd never heard of the Footlights when I got there, but we had a tradition of college smoking-concerts, and I sent in some sketches parodying a play that had just been done. Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie auditioned me for the Footlights smoker, and that led to me discovering about and getting into the Footlights, which was great".
Eric Idle became President of the Footlights Club in 1965. Other Monty Python members of the Cambridge University Footlights Club were John Cleese and Graham Chapman.
With regard to the other Monty Python members, both Terry Jones and Michael Palin attended The University of Oxford, while Terry Gilliam attended Occidental College in the United States.
During the 1960's period, the combined comedy students of both The University of Oxford and The University of Cambridge became known as the Oxbridge Mafia.