Michael Edward Palin (born May 5, 1943) is a British comedian who was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire. He is famous for being a member of Monty Python's Flying Circus in which he generally played roles that called for manic enthusiasm (such as the lumberjack of the Lumberjack Song), or unflappable calmness (such as the Dead Parrot vendor or Cheese Shop proprietor). As the latter, he was often the perfect foil to the rising ire of characters portrayed by John Cleese.
Michael Palin was educated at Birkdale prep school and Shrewsbury public school. He went on to read History at Brasenose College, Oxford.
After Monty Python, Palin subsequently collaborated with fellow Python Terry Jones on the television comedy series Ripping Yarns.
In later years, Palin rejoined Cleese for the movies A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures and played an information retrieval specialist in fellow Python Terry Gilliam's Brazil. He has assisted Transport 2000 and others with campaigns for more rational transport policies, particularly in urban areas.
More recently, he has presented several series of travel programmes on television;
Around the World in 80 Days (1989), travelling as closely as possible the path told in the famous Jules Verne story of the same name without using aircraft.
Pole to Pole (1992), travelling from the North Pole to the South Pole, in a line as straight as possible, over as much land as possible - i.e., through Europe and Africa
Full Circle with Michael Palin (1997), in which he circumnavigated the lands around the Pacific Ocean
Michael Palin's Hemingway Adventure (1999), retracing the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway through the United States, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean
Sahara (2002), in which he trekked through the world's largest desert.
He has recently completed his travels for a new series - Himalaya - in which he travels through the Himalaya region, which is expected to air in the United Kingdom in 2004.
Palin's travel programmes are responsible for a phenomenon termed the Palin Effect, in which areas of the world visited by Michael Palin suddenly become popular tourist attractions - for example, the significant increase in the number of British tourists interested in holidaying in the Sahara region in 2003.