Idler editor Tom Hodgkinson chats to writer, actor and documentarian Michael Palin about travelling, life under lockdown, work routines and the value of silliness. Plus we hear Mark Vernon’s philosophical reflections on the week.
Michael Palin found fame as a member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. His parallel career as one of the world’s bestselling travel writers began in 1989 with Around The World In Eighty Days, the companion book to the television programme of the same name. Similar success was repeated again and again (including Pole to Pole in 1992 and Sahara a decade later). In 2006, Palin published Diaries 1969–1979: The Python Years, the first volume of three well-received memoirs that take the subject from the storm of Python to the global reach of his BBC travel epics. Over the years, Palin has turned his attention to other writing projects including novels and his non-fiction epic of 2018, Erebus: The Story of a Ship.
In 2020, when Covid made long journeys round the world more or less impossible, Michael Palin revisited his past adventures in a series for the BBC called Travels of a Lifetime. Michael is also an occasional contributor to the Idler magazine.
This conversation was recorded as part of the Idler’s series of weekly Zoom events, A Drink with the Idler, on Thursday 29 April…