He may have been the enfant terrible of British comedy 50 years ago, as audiences tried to make sense of what on earth was going on in Monty Python’s Flying Circus, but from the perspective of half a century, Sir Michael Palin belongs in the same, august hall of fame as Albert Modley, Harry Worth and the other greats of Yorkshire’s variety stages.
Indeed, one recent poll placed him as the greatest Yorkshireman ever, an accolade he says won him no friends in cricketing circles. But unlike some of the comics who went before him, Sir Michael’s talent is multifaceted. He is not only a purveyor of funny lines and dead parrots, but a serious actor, writer and, of course, world traveller.
This weekend’s interview in our magazine section finds him in uncharacteristically reflective mood, following his open heart surgery last autumn, and sheds a revealing new light on one of our most enduring figures. Whether silly or serious, long may he continue to be.