- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A member of Monty Python is donating 22 years worth of his personal papers to the United Kingdom’s National Library, promising both scholars and the general public an inside look at the zany sketch-comedy group’s creative process.

Writer and actor Michael Palin has turned over to the institution 50 boxes from his personal archive, including everything from correspondence to sketch drafts to annotated scripts, in addition to Mr. Palin’s diary, the Belfast Telegraph reported Tuesday. 

“We’re looking forward to making it available for researchers, students and everyone with an interest in postwar popular culture. It’s particularly exciting to think that the comedy talent of tomorrow may find inspiration from this collection,” said the National Library’s Head of Contemporary Archives and Manuscripts, Rachel Foss, the Telegraph reported.

For his part, Mr. Palin has been somewhat self-effacing during press availabilities about both his donation and his comedy.

“My work has been inspired by, and created in, this country, so I’m very pleased that my archive has been accepted by the British Library, and that they will make it publicly available, so that future generations will know not to make the same mistakes again,” he said, the Telegraph reported.

“I was a bit shy about it, really, you know, that maybe I should go to a smaller library. Maybe a local library, see if they wanted it,” Mr. Palin told a BBC video journalist.

In a June 13 BBC video report, Mr. Palin described his initial “Monty Python” pitch to BBC executives as “the world’s worst job interview.” Despite a less-than-stellar presentation, however, the network offered Mr. Palin and his colleagues a 13-show option for “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” in August 1969, Mr. Palin said.

The program went on for 46 episodes over four seasons, according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), and spawned three feature-length films in an eight-year span after the show’s run ended: “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” and “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.”

While best known for his work on Monty Python, Mr. Palin has kept quite busy in recent years on other TV and movie projects, his latest work portraying Vyacheslav Molotov in a forthcoming dark comedy titled “The Death of Stalin.” 

• Ken Shepherd can be reached at kshepherd@washingtontimes.com.

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