Michael Palin was born in Sheffield to the manager of a toilet paper factory and the daughter of the High Sheriff of Nottingham (as pythonesque as this sounds this is true). Palin spent his childhood living in Whitworth Road, Sheffield with his parents and his sister Angela (who is 8 years older than him).
Michael Palin went to Brasenose College Oxford in 1962 to read History, where his passion for entertainment awakened (or shall we say reawakened). His first role whilst at Oxford was "Third Peasant" in the play Fuente Ovejuna by Lope de Vega (a play about 15th century peasants and about as fun as having wisdom teeth pulled without anaesthetic). In this particular staging however the stage machinery and lighting worked intermittently (as Terry Jones - who was in the audience, would later remark "it was the funniest play I'd ever seen").
At Oxford Palin teamed up with fellow student Robert Hewison and started writing and performing scripts under the name Seedy Entertainers - one of their first gigs being for the Oxford University Psychology Society at their Christmas Party. This contained a mix of satirical RAF briefings, television parodies and various water-related gags. In the second year the Palin-Hewison team was joined by Terry Jones and together this writing team produced material for the show Loitering Within Tent. This show contained a skit known as the Slapstick Sketch, which was later loaned to the Cambridge Footlights - of whom John Cleese and Graham Chapman were members. Perhaps this mixing of ideas was in part responsible for the birth of Monty Python.
The Palin-Hewison-Jones team continues writing, contributing to a show called Hang Down Your Head and Die, before their big break at the Edinburgh Festival in 1964 in the show Oxford Revue (it was also here that Palin first met Eric Idle). Although most of the material was by Palin and Hewison, the show was less satirical and more bizarre than most shows at the time - in fact it was more Python. It was after the show that Palin and Jones met David Frost who vowed "to get in touch".
In 1965 Palin graduated from Oxford with a 2:1 degree in modern history. From there he got a job in television, hosting the teenage pop show NOW! for Television Wales West (Jones meanwhile had got a place on a BBC directing course, and Hewison had left the team to get a proper job). Encouraged by Jones, Palin began to moonlight on other shows including The Ken Dodd Show, The Late Night Line Up, and The Illustrated Weekly Hudd. Between 1965 and 1967 Palin and Jones wrote for or performed in almost every light entertainment programme made by the BBC.
In 1966, Palin and Jones were recruited into the writing team of the Frost Report, joining a motley bunch of writers that included Tim Brooke-Taylor, Bill Oddie (later part of The Goodies), Denis Norden (who later became well known with his out-take show "It'll Be Alright On The Night"), and certain individuals by the name of John Cleese, Eric Idle and Graham Chapman.
The Palin-Jones team, along with Eric Idle were installed as writers for the show Do Not Adjust Your Set - originally a children's show, but repeated in the evenings as the adult audience grew (now with animations by a Mr. T. Gilliam). Later the Palin-Jones team wrote the show The Complete and Utter History of Britain - although this particular project suffered rather bad reviews. Then in 1966, a producer Barry Took brought Palin together with 5 others to produce a series that was provisionally called Owl Stretching Time
Palin's first post-Python foray into television was in the critically acclaimed series Ripping Yarns written by the Palin-Jones team. From there he went on to star as Dennis Cooper in the film Jabberwocky (a film by T. Gilliam) and then co-wrote and (briefly) starred in Time Bandits (also by Mr. Gilliam). Palin's next role was in the film The Missionary, in which Palin played a missionary who returns from Africa to run a re