at the way people behaved.‘

It‘s a worthy ambition. but one that is not exactly achieved in .rlnu’ru‘un l‘iru'nds. I’alin admits he has difficulties writing dialogue for female characters. and despite the quality of the acting. this means both women are distanced from the viewer. and little is done to give us any insight into their feelings. 'l‘heproblem seems to be Palin‘s unwillingness to put emotional scenes on screen. He speaks ofconveying feelings through gesture and looks. but there are some things that have to be said. At every opportunity. the director 'l‘ristram Powell pulls away to gaze at Oxford stonework or Swiss mountains. We are left with a film about an inhibited and shy man that is itself far from extrovert.

Perhaps those copious side-whiskers he sports throughout the film could put a temporary halt to the bizarre Michael Palin Sex ()bject movement that has been burgeoning oflate. He might not be in the Rob Lowe or Tom (‘ruise league. but seemingly the square chin and the boyish twinkle have set many a female heart a-flutter. probably the more mature hearts it must be admitted. ‘I do get the occasional letter.‘ he admits in his best confused modesty tone. ‘l‘m always rather flummoxed by them. It does seem rather a strange thing to happen. that I should get this image. Since doing Around The World In lirghry‘ [)uy's‘. the mailbag. or the more

14 'l'he list 22 March 7 4 April l‘Nl


suggestive end ofthe mailbag at any rate. has increased. l‘m quite interested in that. because the series was a real vvarts—and—all production and we never had time to comb hair. put nice clothes on. shave and put a bit of make-up under the bleary eyes. It was just pretty rough. but that didn‘t seem to worry people. You always think that to look sexy. you have to spend ages in make—up. but it doesn‘t seem to work like that.‘


Pythonstryto organise themselves, it’s

fatal really.

Apart from the sex interest. .-lround The World In [fig/try Day's. the TV show. the video. the book. the concept. enjoyed huge success. partly as a result of Palms boundless enthusiasm. which didn‘t always come naturally. ‘I have to be honest. there were moments that were sheer hell.‘ he admits. "l‘here was a great deal of fatigue in all of us. but especially myself. because I was the only one who worked every day. I knew it was going to be fairly rigorous but at times you just thought “( )h ( lod. no more”. My feeling about it was it had to be honest. we can‘t cheat. we have to show what it‘s like to

Coming to terms with female troubles in The Missronary


accompany someone around the world. and actually feel it as they‘re going. All the getting up in the morning. the tiredness. I thought “let it show”. l’rom what I can tell from letters. that seems to be the reason for its success. [couldn‘t be the smooth. urbane. well informed TV presenter. who knew all the answers and had three changes of suit. l could never be that. and people appreciated the fact that it was a real person doing it.‘ l’alin seems to have forgotten the rigours sufficiently to agree to a follow ~up series.

this time going from North Pole to South

Pole. He will also be appearing in Alan Bleasdale's new ( ~hannel 4 drama (ill/l. scheduled to be shown in the summer. l’alin playsastrong independent socialist clashing with a power politician ofthe left ( Robert Lindsay). ‘lt‘s the best single part I‘ve been offered since .‘l l’rri'uu' l’rou'tion.~ he says.

xlNlt’l'ft'lUl l’ru’nds‘ appears very unlikely to do a l’rs'li (id/ed ll'undu at the box—office. especially as it has yet to confirm an American distribution deal. but on a budget ofonly {2.8 million. the pressure of commercial success isn't quite as intense. Palin is justifiably proud that he is still in the business of making films. a feeling he shares with his fellow ex—l’y'thons. “lhere is a strong peer—group pressure to keep making films and keep makinggood filmsf says l’alin. ‘We all want each other to get a film made. because we all believe very strongly in British films. and that there aren’t enough of them. and we are proud that l’roininent features are. in a very small way still producing films. We regard that as sornethingof an obligation.’

There is still a creative exchange of ideas amongst the ex-l’ythons. In fact it was rm;

dle who suggested l’alin should do something with his ancestors diary. although judging by Nuns (or flu’ lt’un ldle‘s judgement might be less than perfect. "l‘here is a very useful and extremely beneficial interchange of ideas between us all.‘ l’alin says. '\\'e've come a long way from the days when we didn’t talk to each other about our own projects. \‘ve do talk. we do exchange scripts. it‘s just a very hit and miss thing. Whenever the l’ythons try to organise themselves. it‘s fatal really. Actuallyorganisingany enterprise involving all of us is extremely time—consuming. and in the end rather pointless. because we do tend towork on instinctf

Despite the practical problems. l’alin is unwilling to rule out future collalmrations between the surviving l’ythons. now that each of them has enjoy ed st tlllc' success outside the group. ‘We have gone into our own areas.‘ savs l’alin. ‘\\’e‘ve done some of the things we really wanted to do. 'l‘liat was a very important stage to go through. l think what might happen. in a few years. is that people will see how the individual films have worked. learn some lessons from them. and then maybe having left the nest and set up on our own. so to speak. we might say "( )K we've done that. why don‘t we all get back together and collaborate on something?”

Always assuming the others can stomach l’alin‘snauseating sex appeal that is.

American Friends opens on [713.7 .l/urc/r or

(i/usgoii' ( turnon .Suiu'hu'lzu// Street und lidodno'g/i ()dt'on (SH/’ft't'lft) u/u'rurron tut/1c iv/zon oft/s distributors ).