Terry Jones, the Monty Python star, has been diagnosed with dementia.
The 74-year-old is suffering from primary progressive aphasia, which affects his ability to communicate.
As well as appearing in the BBC TV shows and films, Jones also directed the features The Life Of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life, and co-directed Monty Python And The Holy Grail with Terry Gilliam.
The news about Jones’s health came as Bafta Cymru announced he has been given a special award for outstanding contribution to film and television.
A spokesman for the Welsh-born comedian said: “Terry has been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia, a variant of frontotemporal dementia. This illness affects his ability to communicate and he is no longer able to give interviews. Terry is proud and honoured to be recognised in this way and is looking forward to the celebrations.”
Kathryn Smith, director of operations at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We are deeply sorry to hear about Terry Jones’s diagnosis of dementia and are thinking of Terry and his family during this time.
“Alzheimer’s Society is here for anyone affected by dementia, and we do everything we can to keep people with dementia connected to their lives and the people who matter most by offering practical support, advice and information.”
As a member of the comedy troupe, which also included John Cleese and Michael Palin, Jones wrote and directed many of their best-loved works.
In 2011, he said he would be reluctant to make the Life Of Brian today because of a resurgence in religious belief. The 1979 film, starring John Cleese, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle and Gilliam, sparked a religious storm and accusations of blasphemy.
Opponents of the comedy, which was a worldwide box-office success, claimed it made fun of Jesus. Jones told the Radio Times: “I never thought it would be as controversial as it turned out, although I remember saying when we were writing it that some religious nutcase may take pot shots at us, and everyone replied: ‘No.’
“I took the view it wasn’t blasphemous. It was heretical because it criticised the structure of the church and the way it interpreted the gospels. At the time, religion seemed to be on the back-burner and it felt like kicking a dead donkey. It has come back with a vengeance and we’d think twice about making it now.”
The award for Jones was announced on Friday at the Bafta Cymru nominees party, as well as that of the makeup artist Sian Grigg. The pair will be celebrated at the British Academy Cymru Awards on 2 October.
Hannah Raybould, director of Bafta Cymru, said: “The Bafta Cymru committee recognises Sian’s talents and her huge contribution to such an array of films including Titanic, The Aviator, for which she won the Bafta for makeup and hair in 2005, and more recently The Revenant for which she also received a Bafta nomination.
“We are also very much looking forward to celebrating the work of Terry Jones during the ceremony with a look back at his work from 1969 to the present day.”