|Height:||178 cm (5' 11'')|
|Birth Day:||May 5, 1943|
|Birth Place:||Broomhill, Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, British|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|178 cm (5' 11'')||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
When he was five years old, Palin had his first acting experience at Birkdale playing Martha Cratchit in a school performance of A Christmas Carol. At the age of 10, Palin, still interested in acting, made a comedy monologue and read a Shakespeare play to his mother while playing all the parts. After leaving Shrewsbury in 1962, he went on to read modern history at Brasenose College, Oxford. With fellow student Robert Hewison he performed and wrote, for the first time, comedy material at a university Christmas party. Terry Jones, also a student in Oxford, saw that performance and began writing together with Hewison and Palin. In the same year Palin joined the Brightside and Carbrook Co-operative Society Players and first gained fame when he won an acting award at a Co-op drama festival. He also performed and wrote in the Oxford Revue (called the Et ceteras) with Jones.
After finishing university in 1965 Palin became a presenter on a comedy pop show called Now! for the television contractor Television Wales and the West. At the same time Palin was contacted by Jones, who had left university a year earlier, for assistance in writing a theatrical documentary about sex through the ages. Although this project was eventually abandoned, it brought Palin and Jones together as a writing duo and led them to write comedy for various BBC programmes, such as The Ken Dodd Show, The Billy Cotton Bandshow, and The Illustrated Weekly Hudd. They collaborated in writing lyrics for an album by Barry Booth called Diversions. They were also in the team of writers working for The Frost Report, whose other members included Frank Muir, Barry Cryer, Marty Feldman, Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett, Dick Vosburgh and future Monty Python members Graham Chapman, John Cleese and Eric Idle.
In 1966, Palin married Helen Gibbins, whom he first met in 1959 on holiday in Southwold in Suffolk. This meeting was later fictionalised in Palin's teleplay for the 1987 BBC television drama East of Ipswich. The couple have three children and four grandchildren. Daughter Rachel is a BBC TV director, whose work includes MasterChef: The Professionals. Son William is Director of Conservation at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London and oversaw the 2018–19 restoration of the Painted Hall. A photograph of William as a baby briefly appeared in Monty Python and the Holy Grail as "Sir Not-appearing-in-this-film". His nephew is the theatre designer Jeremy Herbert. Palin is an agnostic.
After the Monty Python television series ended in 1974, the Palin/Jones team worked on Ripping Yarns, an intermittent television comedy series broadcast over three years from 1976. They had earlier collaborated on the play Secrets from the BBC series Black and Blue in 1973. He starred as Dennis the Peasant in Terry Gilliam's 1977 film Jabberwocky. Palin also appeared in All You Need Is Cash (1978) as Eric Manchester (based on Derek Taylor), the press agent for the Rutles. In 1980, Palin co-wrote Time Bandits with Terry Gilliam. He also acted in the film.
In 1982, Palin wrote and starred in The Missionary, co-starring Maggie Smith. In it, he plays the Reverend Charles Fortescue, who is recalled from Africa to aid prostitutes. He co-starred with Maggie Smith again in the 1984 comedy film A Private Function. In 1984, he reunited with Terry Gilliam to appear in Brazil. He appeared in the comedy film A Fish Called Wanda, for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Cleese reunited the main cast almost a decade later to make Fierce Creatures. After filming for Fierce Creatures finished, Palin went on a travel journey for a BBC documentary and, returning a year later, found that the end of Fierce Creatures had failed at test screenings and had to be reshot.
Palin was educated at Birkdale and Shrewsbury School. His sister Angela was nine years older than he was. Despite the age gap the two had a close relationship until her suicide in 1987. He has ancestral roots in Letterkenny, County Donegal.
Starting in 1989, Palin appeared as presenter in a series of travel programmes made for the BBC. It was after the veteran TV globetrotter Alan Whicker and journalist Miles Kington turned down presenting the first of these, Around the World in 80 Days with Michael Palin, that gave Palin the opportunity to present his first and subsequent travel shows. These programmes have been broadcast worldwide in syndication, and were also sold on VHS tape and later on DVD:
Palin has also appeared in serious drama. In 1991 Palin appeared in a film, American Friends, he wrote based upon a real event in the life of his great-grandfather, a fellow at St John's College, Oxford. In that same year he also played the part of a headmaster in Alan Bleasdale's Channel 4 drama series GBH. In 1994, Palin narrated the English language audiobook version of Esio Trot by children's author Roald Dahl.
Palin was instrumental in setting up the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children in 1993. Also in 1993, each member of Monty Python had an asteroid named after them. Palin's is Asteroid 9621 Michaelpalin. In 2003, inside the Globe a commemorative stone was placed – Palin has his own stone, to mark donors to the theatre, but it is misspelled as "Michael Pallin". The story goes that John Cleese paid for the stone, and mischievously insisted on misspelling his name.
In 1994, Palin travelled through Ireland for the same series, entitled "Derry to Kerry". In a quest for family roots, he attempted to trace his great grandmother – Brita Gallagher – who set sail from Ireland 170 years ago during the Great Famine (1845–1849), bound for a new life in Burlington, New Jersey. The series is a trip along the Palin family line.
In 1997, Palin had a small cameo role in Australian soap opera Home and Away. He played an English surfer with a fear of sharks, who interrupts a conversation between two main characters to ask whether there were any sharks in the sea. This was filmed while he was in Australia for the Full Circle series, with a segment about the filming of the role featuring in the series. In November 2005, he appeared in the John Peel's Record Box documentary.
In recent years, Palin has written and presented occasional documentary programmes on artists that interest him. The first, on Scottish painter Anne Redpath, was Palin on Redpath in 1997. In The Bright Side of Life (2000), Palin continued on a Scottish theme, looking at the work of the Scottish Colourists. Two further programmes followed on European painters; Michael Palin and the Ladies Who Loved Matisse (2004) and Michael Palin and the Mystery of Hammershøi (2005), about the French artist Henri Matisse and Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi respectively. The DVD Michael Palin on Art contains all these documentaries except for the Matisse programme.
He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2000 New Year Honours. Palin was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in the 2019 New Year Honours for "services to travel, culture and geography". Palin is the only member of the Monty Python team to receive a knighthood. (John Cleese had turned down a CBE in 1996, calling it "too silly", and declined a life peerage in 1999).
In honour of his achievements as a traveller, especially rail travel, Palin has two British trains named after him. In 2002, Virgin Trains' new £5 million high speed Super Voyager train number 221130 was named "Michael Palin" – it carries his name externally and a plaque is located adjacent to the onboard shop with information on Palin and his many journeys. Also, National Express East Anglia named a British Rail Class 153 (unit number 153335) after him. (He is also a model railway enthusiast.)
Palin's travel programmes are responsible for a phenomenon termed the "Palin effect": areas of the world that he has visited suddenly become popular tourist attractions – for example, the significant increase in the number of tourists interested in Peru after Palin visited Machu Picchu. In a 2006 survey of "15 of the world's top travel writers" by The Observer, Palin named Peru's Pongo de Mainique (canyon below the Machu Picchu) his "favourite place in the world".
In November 2008, Palin presented a First World War documentary about Armistice Day, 11 November 1918, when thousands of soldiers lost their lives in battle after the war had officially ended. Palin filmed on the battlefields of Northern France and Belgium for the programme, called the Last Day of World War One, produced for the BBC's Timewatch series.
In 2008, he received the James Joyce Award of the Literary and Historical Society in Dublin. In recognition of his services to the promotion of geography, Palin was awarded the Livingstone Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in March 2009, along with a Fellowship of this Society (FRGS). In June 2013, he was similarly honoured in Canada with a gold medal for achievements in geography by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. In June 2009, Palin was elected for a three-year term as President of the Royal Geographical Society. Because of his self-described "amenable, conciliatory character" Michael Palin has been referred to as unofficially "Britain's Nicest Man." In a 2018 poll for Yorkshire Day he was named the greatest Yorkshireman ever, ahead of Sean Bean and Patrick Stewart.
In July 2010, Palin sent a message of support for the Dongria Kondh tribe of India, who are resisting mining on their land by the company Vedanta Resources. Palin said, "I've been to the Nyamgiri Hills in Orissa and seen the forces of money and power that Vedanta Resources have arrayed against a people who have occupied their land for thousands of years, who husband the forest sustainably and make no great demands on the state or the government. The tribe I visited simply want to carry on living in the villages that they and their ancestors have always lived in".
Palin assisted Campaign for Better Transport and others with campaigns on sustainable transport, particularly those relating to urban areas, and has been president of the campaign since 1986. On 2 January 2011, he became the first person to sign the UK-based Campaign for Better Transport's Fair Fares Now campaign. In July 2015, he signed an open letter and gave an interview to support "a strong BBC at the centre of British life" at a time the government was reviewing the corporation's size and activities.
In 2013, Palin appeared in a First World War drama titled The Wipers Times written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman. At the Cannes Film Festival in 2016, it was announced that Palin was set to star alongside Adam Driver in Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Palin, however, dropped out of the film after it ran into a financial problem.
In September 2013, Moorlands School, Leeds named one of their school houses "Palin" after him. The University of St Andrews awarded Palin an honorary Doctor of Science degree during their June 2017 graduation ceremonies, with the degree recognising his contribution to the public's understanding of contemporary geography. He joins his fellow Pythons John Cleese and Terry Jones in receiving an honorary degree from the Fife institution. In October 2018, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society awarded Palin the first Louie Kamookak Medal for advances in geography, for his book on the history of the polar exploration vessel HMS Erebus.
After Fierce Creatures and a small part in The Wind in the Willows, a film directed by and starring Terry Jones, it would be twenty more years until Palin's next film role, as Soviet politician Vyacheslav Molotov in the 2017 satirical black comedy The Death of Stalin. Palin also appeared with John Cleese in his documentary, The Human Face. Palin was cast in a supporting role in the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romantic comedy You've Got Mail, but his role was eventually cut entirely.
In 2017 the British Library acquired Palin's archive consisting of project files relating to his work, notebooks, and his personal diaries. The papers in the archive relate to his work with Monty Python, his later TV work, and his children's and humorous books.
While speaking at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Palin announced that he was presenting the two-part documentary Michael Palin in North Korea to be broadcast on the British television network Channel 5. The documentary was broadcast in September 2018, in two one-hour segments on Channel 5 in the UK and in a single two-hour programme on National Geographic in the United States. It was broadcast again by Channel 5, in a single two-hour programme in December 2018.
In July 2019, Palin performed a one-man stage show at the Torch Theatre, Milford Haven, Wales, about the loss of HMS Erebus during the third Franklin expedition, which is recounted in his book Erebus: The Story of a Ship.
Currently, Michael Palin is 79 years, 10 months and 26 days old. Michael Palin will celebrate 80th birthday on a Friday 5th of May 2023.
Find out about Michael Palin birthday activities in timeline view here.