Shropshire Star

'Ni!' - Former Shrewsbury schoolmaster the inspiration for famous Monty Python sketch

An 87-year-old former schoolmaster from Shropshire has a unique claim to fame – he is the inspiration for the famous Monty Python "The Knights Who Say Ni" sketch.


Laurence Le Quesne had a habit when at Shrewsbury School of exclaiming "ni" as he scoured the library for books.

The quirky trait amused his pupils, who happened to include a certain Michael Palin.

He used it as a basis for the famous scene in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Laurence Le Quesne, from Shrewsbury

Today Mr Le Quesne spoke about the connection, adding that he was flattered and amused.

He admits he could not remember saying "ni" despite being reminded of it many times – and his wife Mary recognising it as a habit he sometimes brought home.

Mr Le Quesne, of Shrewsbury, joked: "I must have done it. A lot of people have told me so, so it must have happened."

Monty Python star Michael Palin has confirmed his former schoolmaster was the inspiration behind one of the comedy group's famous sketch

Palin has confirmed the connection and praised Mr Le Quesne as a "great teacher".

He added: "He was very encouraging and taught us to think for ourselves. He used to dance around the shelves, picking out books and going 'ni . . . ni'. He eventually became the inspiration for The Knights Who Say Ni."

Mr Le Quesne also speaks of his connection to old pupils who later became leading lights in the world of comedy and satire.

They include Willie Rushton, who he says was "one of the most entertaining people I have ever known".

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