/%NUCHAEL PALIN‘s new film American Friends. opens.he udksto

'I“()iii 1.21;)j3iii ill)()th his great— granthinlun’sloy1> hfe.sexzq3peal.ancl the perHsofbeinga nnxrguy.

here's something about Michael

Palin that just screams ‘nice.

linglish gent‘ at you the moment

you clap eyes on him. From the

crinkles round the eyes and neat

hairstyle. to the polite. public- school accent and boyish grin. he presents the perfect picture of a loyable. slightly shy. all-round decent chap. If you're a casting director looking for swarthy. deyious yillains. you had best skim right past l’alin M. without a pause.

It's an image that has become difficult to shake off. from his first-eyer 'l‘\' appearance (as the clean—cut presenter ofa Welsh pop show called Now). right through many a manic l’ython sketch to the recent hit series Around (Ii/IF World In [fig/iry Days. l le has

12lhel.is123 .‘ylarch - 4 April l‘Nl


always managed to come across as the hapless and innocent yictim of more worldly characters. usually domineering and intimidating women. and the prime recipient of an audience‘s sympathies. We eyen loyed him as the stuttering doggie-slaughterer in Iris/1 (id/ed Wanda. Any man who can still look loyeable while haying chips stuffed up his nose has really got something.

Sitting in the projection room of Prominent Features (the umbrella company for the indiyidual projects of former Pythons). he is politely dubious about the benefits ofsuch a clean image. 'l-ikeability is a yery double-edged weapon.‘ he says. ‘I think some people want to throw up if someone is too nice. It's an image I hayen‘t

l l

wanted to foster. it’s just something inyented by journalists. who seem to meet so few normal people.‘

l’alin seems neryous about turning into one ofthose great old British institutions. and probably has nightmares about becoming a kind of public-school Norman Wisdom. lle prefers the idea of being recognised as a ‘quality product‘ or at least as quality as you can get on a budget of £18 million. 'l think people come to see what I do because they know that I do try to work with the best people. the best director. the best cameramen and all that.’ he says. ‘I like people to come for those reasons. but personal likeability I’m not so keen on.‘ Palin has realised that. after a while. nice

equals boring. and before you know it. you