Michael Palin's Leicester adventure: famous global traveller speaks to geographers

Posted by mjs76 at Nov 04, 2010 03:05 PM |
The University of Leicester recently hosted a talk by the President of the Royal Geographical Society. This would be prestigious enough at any time but was particularly interesting as the current President is also a bestselling author, globe-trotting TV presenter and former dead parrot retailer.

In the Rattray Lecture Theatre, Michael Palin explained to members of the Midlands branch of the RGS – including staff and students from our Department of Geography – how his love of geography dated back to his schooldays in Sheffield. However, he was persuaded to read Modern History when he went to Oxford, where his future career was determined by his involvement in the OUDS (effectively the Oxonian equivalent of the Cambridge Footlights).

From there it was a run through a series of classic TV comedy titles – Do Not Adjust Your Set, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Ripping Yarns – to a film career that includes Time Bandits, A Private Function and A Fish Called Wanda. In 1980 he was invited to present a programme in the BBC series Great Railway Journeys of the World, travelling the length of England and Scotland, which rekindled his love of travel.

This led to his hugely successful series of seven global adventures including Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole, Full Circle and Michael Palin’s Hemingway Adventure – from whence he drew a wealth of fascinating stories for his audience about the people and places of the planet.

The event was a tremendous success and was followed by a reception hosted by Professor Heiko Balzter, Head of Department, and Professor Mike Bradshaw, who is currently Vice-President (Research and Higher Education) at the RGS.