Remembered primarily for directing and producing the Monty Python film And Now for Something Completely Different (1971) and the vast majority of the episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-1974), he won a 1973 BAFTA Award and was nominated for a 1976 Primetime Emmy Award.
Before beginning his directing and producing careers, he briefly studied Medicine and also served in the Royal Marines. In addition, he pursued a career as a stage actor, performing with both the Edinburgh Gateway Theatre and the Glasgow Citizens Theatre.
He played small roles in several films and television series, including the science fiction movie X the Unknown and the comedy series Hancock's Half Hour.
He spent his youth in Glasgow and Perthshire, Scotland.