AND now for something completely different...the famous Monty Python foot is up for grabs.

Those who watched the TV comedy sketch show which ran on the BBC from 1969 to 1974 will recall the giant limb crashing down with a splat as the credits rolled to the tune of an American military march called The Liberty Bell.

It was the foot of Terry Gilliam, who starred in the trend-setting ,surreal, risque, innuendo-laden programme with Terry Jones, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Eric Idle and Graham Chapman.

Loading article content

Apparently, he photographed his foot - and the enlarged image was used at the top of the show and at the end of sketches in Monty Python's Flying Circus, and for the German version, Monty Python's Fliegender Zircus.

Cameraman David Brookman filmed the animation sequences and was later given the blown-up image as a memento by Gilliam, who scrawled his name on it.

Now Mr Brookman, 77, of Humshaugh, near Hexham, in Northumberland, has decided to part with his souvenir of one of the most enduringly popular comedy shows ever shown on British television.

And the foot photo, signed and framed, will go under the hammer at Vectis of Thornaby on July 12 with a pre-sale estimate of £400 to £600.

It is the only known image - and certainly the only one signed by the American Gilliam, the only non-Brit in the Monty Python troupe and who has gone to achieve success as a film director.

Mr Brookman said yesterday (May 23): "I was in the animation business for 30 years from 1963. The foot was Terry Gilliam's idea and he probably photographed his own foot.

"The photograph is a little battered because it was used a lot and it was me that put it in a frame. It's probably the best known foot in British television history."

The foot is based on a segment from Venus, Folly, Cupid and Time by Italian Mannerist painter Agnolo Bronzino (1503-1572) and The Liberty Bell march was written in 1893 by composer and conductor John Philip Sousa (1854-1932).

The Monty Python shows are so popular after 45 years that tickets for a reunion performance on July 1 sold out in three quarters of a minute. A further four dates also sold out immediately.