Tuesday, May 26th, 2015
There I was thinking that I’d give up travelling and have a quiet year at home when along comes 2015. The finger beckons and suddenly I’m sending more postcards than ever.
Eurostar to Paris in January to celebrate our daughter’s birthday, opened the floodgates to a travelling spring. My Live On Stage tour opened in New Zealand in February, then across to Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and a last night in Melbourne in March. Then a visit to old friends in Scotland – including the legendary Hamish MacInnes, who was responsible for throwing the Knights who got their questions wrong in Monty Python and The Holy Grail into the Gorge Of Eternal Peril. And he was head of Mountain Rescue at the time. To New York in April for a Monty Python celebration at the Tribeca Film Festival, which reminded us that we are all 40 years older than when we tried to cross The Bridge Of Death. Then just time to get my bags unpacked and packed again before leaving for Italy to film a one-hour documentary for BBC Four, currently called Michael Palin’s Quest for Artemisia Gentileschi. It’s a collaboration with my crack team from BBC Scotland – Eleanor Yule director, Mhairi McNeill producer and Carlo D’Alessandro on camera – with whom I made Palin in Wyeth’s World (BBC Two, 2013).
For a long time Artemesia was a well-kept secret. As a woman, painting in the early 17th century, she was not given the attention that her male counterparts received. Now that she’s being rightly discovered as a painter of unforgettable images, people want to know what she was like. All will be revealed later this year, but what I can say, after a fortnight’s filming in Florence, Rome and Naples, is that to call Artemisia Gentileschi a force of nature is an understatement. Be prepared.
And just to make sure life never gets too predictable, I’m back in London helping launch the new series of The Clangers, which I was very honoured to be asked to narrate. And after that I can put my feet up and sit in the garden for a while, and plan out my Thirty Years Tour of the UK this autumn. Oh, and maybe look at a map or two.