An audience with Michael Palin

Conducted in the style of an informal question and answer session between the pair, the interview covered the whole of Palin’s professional life; from discovering his comic talents while at Oxford University through to his latest travel documentary; ‘New Europe’. The first half of the interview built up to his work in ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’; which led Palin on to discuss how Python enabled him to move into other aspects of the media; firstly the Python films, and films such as ‘A Fish Called Wanda’ with John Cleese. He reminisced about making his first television series ‘Ripping Yarns’ and more personal projects such as the film ‘American Friends’ based on his own family history. He also talked about his role in Alan Bleasdale’s series ‘GBH’ and finally his passion for travel.

What made the interview memorable was his revelations about the more personal parts of his career; his opinion of the controversy surrounding the release of ‘Life of Brian’ and his and Cleese’s defence of the film against religious critics on ‘Friday Night/Saturday Morning’, as well as the surprising fact that he was actually the third choice to present ‘Around the World in 80 days’; which launched his now familiar role of travel documentary presenter!

After the initial 50 minute interview there was a 10 minute session in which members of the audience were able to ask their own questions. Palin then did a series of signings and photographs with customary humour and patience before finishing the evening by joining the audience for a drinks reception in the Senior Common Room.

Palin spoke to The Founder after the event and revealed that he had indeed visited Royal Holloway previously in 1985. This visit was for a film/drama that was being produced for ITV using Royal Holloway and the Holloway Sanitorium as its set. Unfortunately due to strikes, the drama never saw the light of day and was refilmed several years later with an entirely different cast. He also said that the grounds are as beautiful now as they were back then.

The event was held in FounderÂ’s Main Lecture Theatre instead of the newly opened, spacious Windsor Auditorium as it was in use for another event. This unfortunately meant that attendance for the event was limited due to space restrictions. Tickets sold out extremely quickly for such a high profile celebrity, and many were actually unaware that Palin was to visit Royal Holloway until the event had sold out due to poor advertising. Subsequently many students were left disappointed at being unable to attend.

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