Monty Python stars John Cleese and Terry Gilliam have hit out at the BBC for ‘destroying creativity’.

The duo, who is reuniting for a series of shows at London’s O2 Arena in July, said their 1969 show Flying Circus would not be made in these times, because the corporation would have curbed their freedom.

‘One of the things that makes me saddest about the way the country has gone since I was young is the BBC. I look back at what was a magnificent institution. Then, for economic reasons, that wonderful institution was thinned down,’ John told Time Out. ‘In those days the departmental heads were trusting of their producers. What happens now is you have a new species, a ‘commissioning editor’, who, as far as I can make out, haven’t actually written comedy, or directed it, and yet they seem to think that they understand comedy. This would be fine if they did understand it, but comedy is very difficult.

‘Just look around - there’s an awful amount of work. These decisions are being taken by people who don’t understand comedy but don’t realise that they don’t understand it,’ he continued.

Terry agreed: ‘The system is so executive-heavy now: there’s an army of compliance cops. Everything now has to be pre-digested for the nation by frightened executives who don’t want to lose their jobs. For creative people it’s very, very destructive.’ Monty Python Live (Mostly) - One Down, Five To Go, which kicks off on July 1, will feature all the remaining Pythons - John, Terry, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.