Python star Michael Palin’s hopping world record bid on Hampstead Heath
Hopping – according to Michael Palin – has long been dismissed as a playground pursuit.
But in an Olympic year, a world record ‘hopathon’ attempt on Hampstead Heath could bring the school pastime leaping to the fore of the nation’s sporting psyche.
On Saturday, March 3 hundreds of people will hop into position and pay homage to a scene from Palin and fellow Python Terry Jones’ famous 1970s TV series Ripping Yarns, which shows a 30-mile hop against St Anthony’s in Tomkinson’s School Days.
However, the one-legged participants at Parliament Hill Field will only have to hop 400 metres around the athletics track.
Palin, who lives in Gospel Oak, told the Ham&High: “It will be a chance to see a rather neglected form of physical activity return in an Olympic year and remind Seb Coe and others of the importance of the one-legged sport.”
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Champions of the 400m race and 400m relay will be given �500 each by the two Pythons, who will judge the event.
Palin, 68, who says his hopping days are behind him, said of the original Ripping Yarns sketch: “We filmed most of those scenes in Dorset, in the hills and along the sandy shoreline.
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“In one take on the beach they put the camera so far away I had to hop for about 500 metres. It was quite daft really. I will be interested to see how they (the participants) manage to keep it up – as they say in the business!”
Palin was speaking as a re-release of the Ripping Yarns DVD is set to hit high streets. He said: “I think the humour is topical in English society, certainly those whole stories of time gone by in the 1920s and 1930s.
“It’s just such a fertile ground for humour – a lot of the attitudes which were held very seriously now seem absolutely ridiculous.”
To succeed in setting the world record 250 people must take part in the hopathon and one entrant must make it around the course in under seven minutes.
Hoppers must be older than 18 and in sound physical health.
To register, visit www.facebook.com/NetworkDVD by February 25.