Twenty-five years of travel: Michael Palin celebrates his globetrotting career… and confesses how it nearly didn’t happen!
He is the comedian who has defined travel for a generation and continues to inspire us with his globetrotting documentaries.
While many know Michael Palin as one of the Monty Python comics, he has also carved out a whole other career as our guide to the worlds’ best – and most unusual – destinations.
His second career started 25 years ago, with the epic Jules Verne-inspired trip Around the World in 80 Days, when he attempted to circumnavigate the globe without using air travel.
But the comedian confesses the inspiring series was almost fronted by someone else.
Celebrations: As Michael Palin marks 25 years since his first major travel documentary Around The World in 80 Days aired, he speaks to Kate Garraway about his globetrotting life
Speaking to former GMTV presenter Kate Garraway in an interview for Travel Channel, celebrating a quarter of a century since his career-making odyssey, Palin explained that when he was approached by the BBC he was told he would be perfect for the job, but later found out he had been way down the list of desired presenters.
Garraway told MailOnline Travel: ‘The BBC rang him up and said we think you’d be perfect, we absolutely want you. He called back straight away and said yes and then found out three weeks later he was actually the fifth choice. But now we can’t imagine anyone else doing it.’
Starting out: Palin has no idea his travel show would spark a whole new career for him
A keen traveller herself, Kate was delighted to interview Palin to celebrate his 25 years of travel reporting.
‘Michael Palin is one of those people that everybody likes. You just like him. He has all that history of Monty Python and everything he’s done since.’
To prepare for the big interview Kate watched the series again and it brought back memories of when she first saw it.
‘I remember when I first saw the programme. I was at university, back when people were writing on slates, when your main interests as a student were drinking, going to your one lecture a week and watching Neighbours in the afternoon.
‘Going home to visit my parents, they asked if I had seen this brilliant show and it was amazing to watch. It is hard for us to remember what travel prgrammes were like back then, they talked about the gross deficit of a country, agriculture, but this programme focused on one man and his meanderings and a look at the people he met. It’s something that all travel programmes do now.’
Kate’s eight-year-old daughter Darcey also enjoyed the trip back in time to 1989, when Around The World in 80 Days was released.
‘She loved it,’ explains Kate. ‘I was explaining to her how in one episode, Michael is on a dhow and his travel plans have gone wrong, he has to be on there three or four days, with no satnav, no internet, no mobile phone signal, she was saying: “So he’s completely cut off.”‘
But it is when things go wrong that you end up taking the road less travelled, says Kate.
Inspired: Kate Garraway came away from the interview with a few travel show ideas of her own
‘In the episode, Michael is on there with a group of people that don’t speak English, but they muddle along and there is this lovely moment when he puts Bruce Spring on his Walkman and for one of the guys to play and the guy keeps on telling him to turn it up. It is amazing as they cross so many divides and cultural barriers – all connected by The Boss!’
As Palin marks 25 years since his first major travel documentary, he is still travelling, maintaining that it keeps him young. As a boy he wanted to be an explorer and was always fascinated with maps, so perhaps his second career is no surprise.
As for Garraway, she would certainly be keen to join the travel hall of fame.
‘I would love to do more travel shows. I mean the Travel Channel are brilliant at finding new angles. I think there is space for a kind of fusing of holiday shows and journalism. Wherever I go to follow a serious story, I’m focusing on just one story, but there is a whole story about this country to be told, some serious angles and some fun. I think “A journalist abroad” could work.’
Michael Palin’s New Tales Around the World in 80 Days with Kate Garraway, airs at 8:30pm on Sunday March 16 on Travel Channel (freeview 42/251) followed by Episode 1 of Around the World in 80 Days at 9.00pm.
Discover more at http://travelchannel.co.uk/