I had read the first 2 volumes of these when they were released but for some reason not this one. 

As in Halfway to Hollywood and The Python Years, Travelling to Work contains a decade’s worth of unedited, unabridged diary entries from multi-talented funnyman Michael Palin. In this volume, the last Palin has published to date – though I believe another is on the way, the former Python documents his experience hosting a series of BBC travel documentaries even as he continues to develop new dimensions as a writer and actor.

I was encouraged to read this by reading about the tragic circumstances of the passing of Michael Palin’s wife, and it reminded me what a grounding influence she had been amongst the chaos of Python in the earlier diaries, so I wanted to finish the set.

Michael Palin will hate anyone saying this but one of the reasons this is so readable is because he comes across as the nice one, especially amongst the spikiness of the other Pythons. It seems like he is the only one who gets on with all of them, and in these days where Eric Idle and John Cleese are involved in sniping over Twitter it’s nice to have someone who they all seemed to genuinely like. As a Python fan the business talk about the Pythons is some of the most interesting thing about all 3 of these diaries.

This book is set mainly in the 90’s when Python weren’t actively making films and didn’t regularly appear together, but it’s interesting to note how often they were still all seeing each other and discussing new projects, most of which never happened.  

In Palin’s career, he had embarked on a slightly different area as he had stopped appearing in as many films as he had been in the mid 80’s. This book does cover the making of Fierce Creatures though a film many rate as inferior to A Fish Called Wanda, but I actually prefer, but more of it is involved with his new career as a travel presenter.

Palin carved out a real niche for himself in the 90’s on this kind of show, following from Around the World in 80 Days and Pole to Pole. These diaries cover a lot of the time he was doing those travel shows/books and in some ways that’s the thing I like least about them, not because that’s not fascinating but because of the fact that those diaries have already been used to create the accompanying books much of it isn’t here. I would love more details on the adventures but I have to buy the other books to get them and given the title of this book, that’s a little annoying, though quite understandable as this is already not a small book!


On the whole if, like me, you’re a nerd for the minutiae and the chat about the business of Python, as well as things such as Palin’s involvement with the Campaign for Better Transport, and if you’ve read and enjoyed the previous books, this is definitely one you’ll get something out of.

Author Rating

  • overall
  • writing style
  • plot/information
  • enjoyment
Pros & Cons
  • He would hate it - but he's effortlessly likeable
  • Fascinating
  • Funny
  • The Diary style sometimes makes it a bit clunkier
  • The trips are often missing as they're part of their own books

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