By Mike Collett-White
LONDON (Reuters) - Michael Palin was deadly serious, Terry Jones yawned and Eric Idle looked like he was half asleep.
At London's High Court on Wednesday, proceedings in a case over royalties from the hit musical "Spamalot" were distinctly humorless, despite the presence of three out of six members of the surreal comedy troupe Monty Python.
Palin took the witness stand and, under cross examination, rejected the idea that Mark Forstater, who produced the group's hit 1975 movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", would ever have been considered the "seventh Python".
Forstater has taken legal action, arguing that under a 1974 agreement between him and the Pythons he was entitled to one-seventh of profits derived from the film and any merchandise or spin-offs.
He says that he has not received his fair share of profits from Spamalot, the musical spin-off of Holy Grail which opened on Broadway in 2005 and has enjoyed success in Britain as well.
"It might have been what he was seeking, but it was never going to be accepted by the Pythons," Palin said.
"The idea of a seventh Python just doesn't happen ... I don't think there was ever any suggestion this man was going to be a 'seventh Python'."
Palin, wearing a dark jacket, open-necked blue shirt and glasses, said he did not recollect a meeting where terms of the agreement were laid out.
When pressed on negotiations with various partners during the mid-1970s, he said there were details he could not recollect more than 35 years later.
"We were working very, very hard, it was very last-minute," he said of the period just before the Pythons travelled to Scotland to shoot Holy Grail.
Of Forstater, Palin said: "He was not the creator of the film. The film had been created by the Python team entirely. Mark was not part of our team."
Forstater, who was also in court, has said previously that he believed he was owed 250,000 pounds ($400,000) in relation to Spamalot.
Idle and Jones, who sat at the back of the small, modern courtroom in central London, occasionally chuckled at what was being said, but mostly Idle had his eyes closed and Jones could not resist a yawn.
The trial, which began on Friday, was scheduled to last four to five days.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White)