Michael Palin was born in Sheffield, went to Shrewsbury School and then to Oxford where he read history, performed in many comedy shows, and started working with fellow writer and performer Terry Jones.
After Oxford, Michael and Terry went on to write for various BBC comedy shows, notably The Frost Report and The Two Ronnies. In 1967, they teamed up with Eric Idle to write and perform the children’s comedy series, Do Not Adjust Your Set.
In 1969 came Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which firmly established Michael’s comic reputation along with his five collaborators Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Terry Jones. This team made forty-five Python episodes and five feature films including Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Monty Python’s Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. In 1988 the Monty Python team received the Michael Balcon Award.
Michael’s other feature film acting credits include Terry Gilliam’s cult feature Brazil, Jabberwocky, The Missionary, which he wrote, Time Bandits, written with Terry Gilliam, American Friends, which he also co-wrote, A Private Function, A Fish Called Wanda, which won him a BAFTA Award for best supporting actor, and Fierce Creatures.
A self-confessed dromomaniac, Michael contributed to two BBC series of Great Railway Journeys of the World, in 1980 and 1994. He also indulged his wanderlust in eight huge adventures for the BBC, Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole, Full Circle, Hemingway Adventure, Sahara, Himalaya, New Europe and Brazil which were enormously successful award-winning television series, books and audios. In 2008 he filmed Around the World in 20 Years a programme celebrating his first travel series. An updated 20th anniversary edition of the book was also published. He is the author of a number of children’s stories, the play The Weekend and the novels Hemingway’s Chair and The Truth. Michael has also published three volumes of diaries; 1969–1979: The Python Years, 1980-1988: Halfway to Hollywood and in the autumn of 2014, 1988-1998: Travelling to Work, which was accompanied by a theatre tour of the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
In July 2014, Michael, with his fellow Pythons, performed a ten-night sell-out show at the
02 Arena in London – Monty Python Live: One Down Five to Go. More recently, Michael starred in a three part contemporary ghost story, written by Gwyneth Hughes for the BBC called Remember Me.
Michael was made a CBE in the 2000 New Year’s Honours for services to television drama & travel. In 2002 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Comedy Awards, in 2005 he was given a BAFTA Special Award and in 2013 Michael was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship. Between 2009 and 2012 Michael was President of the Royal Geographical Society.
He lives in North London with his wife Helen.