Britain’s biggest Monty Python fan meets his match ... on the bright side of life

The happy couple John Wood and Gemma Harris with Pythons Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and actor Sanjeev Bhaskar SUS-170216-133209001
The happy couple John Wood and Gemma Harris with Pythons Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and actor Sanjeev Bhaskar SUS-170216-133209001
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A man crowned Britain’s biggest Monty Python fan was looking for something completely different when he decided to ask his girlfriend to marry him.

And John Wood managed to do just that by popping the question to fellow Python fan Gemma Harris - in front of two of the Pythons themselves: Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam.

John, 57, made his proposal at the Roundhouse theatre in London where the Pythons were performing with actor Sanjeev Bhaskar. A delighted Gemma, 33, of course said Yes.

The happy couple have, in fact, always looked on the bright side of life - having met two years ago through a dating site that John set up to help fellow Python devotees to find romance.

Said John: “I set the site up because I really wanted to help others to find somebody, I didn’t expect to find someone for me.”

John, of Garden Wood Road, East Grinstead, was crowned Britain’s biggest Python fan by the British Film Institute in 2012 after dedicating years of his life to the off-beat comedy.

“Monty Python has been a major influence throughout my whole life,” said John. “In fact, the only reason I knew Caroline, my first wife, was because I went to school with her previous husband - and the main reason we were friends at school was because we were both Monty Python fans.

“Monty Python has brought me so much fun, laughter and education for the past 43 years. I’m so grateful to them.

“Gemma and I have been together now for over two and a half years. For whatever reason, I didn’t want to get married but Gemma really did. Because she is so lovely and because I’m fed up with her watching ‘Say Yes To The Dress’ on TV all the time, I changed my mind a few weeks ago.”

He had already bought VIP tickets to the Python event at the Roundhouse which happened to coincide with Gemma’s birthday.

“I then put two and two together and realised that, to propose in front of two Pythons who we have both admired for pretty much all of our lives would be the ultimate backdrop to a marriage proposal for any Python fan. So, in secret, I set about making it happen.”

And at an after-show theatre party, John asked Terry Gilliam for help as he staged his proposal “so he had a quiet word with Michael Palin.”

He added: “One of The Roundhouse staff told me it was the first ever marriage proposal on stage there,” said John.

“The last thing Michael Palin said to me as I was thanking him and saying goodbye was ‘I wish you a long and happy life together’.”

Gemma, who works with John promoting social media, said she was really shocked when John got down on one knee. “I had no idea that was going to happen. It was only a few days later I thought, he actually proposed in front of the Pythons.

“We’re still in a bit of a daze.”