Drawn from his published diaries, this is Michael Palin’s account of the making of the Monty Python TV and stage shows, films, books and albums.
Monty Python at Work opens on 8th July 1969 with Michael Palin’s diary entry for the first day of filming on the very first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The diary entries that follow – up until the opening of their final feature film, The Meaning of Life, in 1983 – chart the tumultuous story of how the now famous shows and films were conceived and brought to life.
Palin records the evolution of Monty Python’s comic style, the moments of creative inspiration as well as discord, the persistent self-doubt, and the happy accidents that shaped what are now classic comedy moments.
He captures too the group’s many anarchic exploits (John Cleese in a bikini; driving a Budget Rent-a-Van up Glencoe in full chainmail; filming ‘Scott of the Sahara’ on the beach at Torquay…), as well as their battles with BBC suits, budget-conscious film producers and self-appointed censors.
Thanks to Palin’s as-it-happened accounts, we are taken behind the scenes to watch with unrivalled intimacy the creative processes that led to the finished work, seeing how it was actually put together. By distilling everything about the Pythons at work, this edition of Palin’s diaries serves as an intimate guide to the legendary shows, films, books and albums. It will delight Python fans everywhere, and be a source of instruction and inspiration to those who seek to follow in their footsteps.
‘No writer-performer has combined professional hilarity and personal sanity more successfully than Michael Palin. Anyone interested in how comedy happens should hang on his every word.’ David Mitchell
Blog entry: Michael Palin on what writer-performers can learn from the book, plus extracts from the early days of Python: 'If this account of the hoops we went through to turn that spirit into reality is instructive and inspirational today then I think it will indeed have proved itself to be some sort of educational tool, albeit in a very silly syllabus.' Read more >>
'Michael Palin's rollercoaster account of Python's glory years'
'Palin is a natural diarist and this amusing and barmy collection of day-by-day extracts gives a peek into the creative process of the comedy troupe'
Michael Palin established his reputation with Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Ripping Yarns. His work also includes several films with Monty Python, as well as The Missionary, A Private Function, an award-winning performance as the hapless Ken in A Fish Called Wanda, American Friends and Fierce Creatures.
His television credits include two films for the BBC’s Great Railway Journeys, the plays East of Ipswich and Number 27, Alan Bleasdale’s GBH, and the three-part BBC drama, Remember Me.
He has written books to accompany his eight very successful travel series, Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole, Full Circle, Hemingway Adventure, Sahara, Himalaya, New Europe and Brazil. He is also the author of a number of children’s stories, the play The Weekend, and the novels Hemingway’s Chair and The Truth. Michael’s three volumes of diaries are 1969–1979: The Python Years, 1980–1988: Halfway to Hollywood and 1988–1998: Travelling to Work.
In 2014, Michael and his fellow Pythons performed a ten-night sell-out show called Monty Python Live at the O2 Arena, London. Between 2009 and 2012, Michael was President of the Royal Geographical Society.