New Year’s Honours 2019: Gospel Oak’s Monty Python star Michael Palin knighted

Gospel Oak's Michael Palin has been made a knight of the realm. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

Gospel Oak's Michael Palin has been made a knight of the realm. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Gospel Oak’s Michael Palin paid tribute to his Monty Python colleagues as he became the first member of the comedy group to receive a knighthood.

Palin, who is a famous Heath-lover and north London face – and most recently spoke up during the campaign to save the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley – was perhaps the biggest star to pick up a gong in the New Year Honours this year.

Originally a comedian, this recognition is for his services to travel, culture and geography following his successful second career – as a travel writer and television presenter.

But Palin is best known for his time in Monty Python, with which he was involved in classic television and film comedies including Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975), Life Of Brian (1979) and The Meaning Of Life (1983).

Palin, who is receiving a substantive rather than honorary knighthood in recognition of his contribution to Britain internationally, said being part of Monty Python was “definitely” a career highlight.

He said: “Discovering there were five other people who had the same sort of sense of humour as myself and we all appreciated each other’s work and that the work that we did, both on television and film, is still being replayed and still being appreciated, that’s quite something, really, after 50 years.

“It will be 50 years since Python started, next year. That’s something that hit a high spot that will last forever, so I’m very grateful to all the other Pythons and I am very proud of Python.”

Following Python, Palin carved out a career as a travel writer and television presenter.

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His shows have taken him around the world, including to both Poles, the Himalayas, the Sahara Desert, Brazil and North Korea.

Palin said he was grateful to have been able to travel extensively and that seeing the world made him realise the UK should not “hide away” from its role on the global stage.

He said: “We are a country which has always been at the forefront of exploration and trade. We have an enormous amount of contact here with nations of the world and that’s a very important thing that we must build on and take responsibility for our role in the world.

“That exposure to travellers has taught me a lot about the importance of understanding other people’s points of view and learning from other people’s lives and other people’s cultures, as well as them learning from ours.”

He said to mark his knighthood he may “just have a quiet celebration, just myself and a glass of Horlicks and then go to bed”.

Hampstead’s Nick Mason, Pink Floyd’s legendary drummer, also picked up a gong - a CBE for services to music, and Downton Abbey actor who lives in West Hampstead has been made an OBE.

Additional reporting by the Press Association.