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Posted: 27 March 2008

Former Python, Michael Palin at UCD

Best known as a former member of Monty Python, and more recently for his travel writing and travel documentaries, Michael Palin was in University College Dublin to receive the James Joyce Award from the UCD Literary and Historical Society on Wednesday 26 March 2008.

At the event, the comedian, actor, writer, and television presenter, spoke about his Irish roots, his youth diaries, his time as a student at university, his first meetings with the co-creators of Monty Python, and his wanderlust.

During the course of his monologue, he explained that the turning point in his life and career took place while he was a student at Oxford, where he found his behaviour ‘less supervised’ and more liberated. This is where he wrote his first comedy sketches and met with the other future Pythons, before becoming a contributing writer on The Frost Report, a satirical TV show hosted by Sir David Frost which ran for 28 episodes from 1966. And it was while writing for The Frost Report that Palin, and the other future Pythons, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, and Terry Jones, are said to have developed their unique comedy writing style.

Continuing to describe the origins and the makings of ‘The Life of Brian’ and ‘The Holy Grail,’ Palin struck a truly resounding cord with the student audience. Then, leaving Python behind, he went on to explain how more recently he managed to fulfill his longstanding wanderlust when he agreed to present several travel documentary series including ‘Pole to Pole’ and ‘Around the World in 80 Days.’

Before taking questions from the audience about his life and career, Palin advised the students in the audience to ‘be curious, be open to influences and, of course, be Irish.’

At the end of the event, as he was presented with the James Joyce Award from Ian Hastings, the Auditor of the UCD Literary and Historical Society, Palin received a standing ovation from the audience.


Named after the L&H Society's most notable alumni, the James Joyce Award is presented to individuals who have achieved considerable success in the course of their lives and careers. Previous recipients include former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix, actor Ralph Fiennes, Oxford philosopher Professor Richard Swinburne, actor and comedian Will Ferrell, and author J.K Rowling.

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Former Python, Michael Palin at UCD