Michael Palin thrills theatre audiences with Sheffield panto appearance

Michael Palin as the Magic Mirror.

Michael Palin as the Magic Mirror.

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One of Sheffield's most famous sons is delighting theatre audiences with a comic turn in a Christmas pantomime.

Michael Palin is joining the cast of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on stage at the Lyceum this year, playing the Magic Mirror.

Michael Palin and Paul Hendy.

Michael Palin and Paul Hendy.

The veteran actor and TV presenter, who rose to fame as part of Monty Python's Flying Circus, appears on a video screen, putting a Sheffield twist on an iconic role.

Writer and producer Paul Hendy said it was a 'coup' to land the 'nicest man in showbusiness'.

"We were absolutely thrilled because he's a legend of Sheffield and a personal hero of mine, as I'm sure he is to a lot of people," he said.

"To work with him and for him to agree to do it was a wonderful thing and a testament to him."

The cast of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

The cast of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

The show is a take on the Disney classic, and alongside Mr Palin stars Wendi Peters of Coronation Street fame, Phil Gallagher, better known as CBeebies' Mister Maker, and Sheffield favourite Damian Williams.

The script includes plenty of Sheffield nods and winks, and the Magic Mirror's lines are among the best.

"We have built up a reputation at the Lyceum over the last 10 years," said Mr Hendy. "One thing we have done is make it a Sheffield panto with a lot of references and jokes.

"We wanted to get the location in. Some of the younger children might not know Michael Palin is from Sheffield. So he delivers it with a Sheffield accent.

"There are a lot of Sheffield jokes. It's really gone down well."

Filming the Magic Mirror part with Mr Palin was a career highlight for Mr Hendy, who has been working in showbusiness for three decades.

"One great moment was when we were filming and he stopped because he was laughing so much - it was one of my proudest moments," he said.

"They say he is the nicest man in showbusiness and also in Britain. And he genuinely is. He was up for anything."

Mr Hendy said this year was on course to be the 'best ever' panto of his 10 years at the Lyceum.

The show runs until January 8 and tickets are still available at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk or 0114 249 6000.

Biography

Michael Palin was born on May 5, 1943, in Sheffield.

According to his own website, he attended Birkdale Preparatory School from 1948 to 1957, where he made his first stage appearance as Martha Cratchit in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, when he apparently fell off the stage.

In 1962 he joined the Brightside and Carbrook Co-Operative Society Players, while working in the publicity department of Edgar Allen & Co Steelmakers.

Palin then went to Oxford University where he performed his first comedy material with friend Robert Hewison.

He met Terry Jones two years later, and in 1969 joined up with joined up with Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle for Monty Python’s Flying Circus, broadcast on BBC television.

Three more series of Monty Python were broadcast in the 1970s, and three feature films were released, followed by a fourth in 1983.

Since then Palin has appeared in a range of television and film roles, branching out into travel broadcasting. He has also written a number of books and performed live on many occasions.

Palin has a star on the Sheffield Legends Walk of Fame, and a quote reading 'there is no institution I value more in this country than libraries' appears on a wall inside Sheffield Central Library.

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