Michael Palin Heads to North Korea in TV Travel Doc

Credit: ITN Productions
'Michael Palin in North Korea'

Two years in the making, the series saw the Monty Python legend visit the country just as the historic meeting between north and south took place.

Monty Python has ventured to Pyongyang.

Following in the footsteps of U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo and ex-basketball star Dennis Rodman, former Python legend and veteran broadcaster Michael Palin has recently returned from a tour of North Korea, where he filmed a world-exclusive documentary series.  

Michael Palin in North Korea (working title), from ITN Productions for Viacom-owned U.K. network Channel 5, saw Palin cover more than 1,300 miles, from south to north of the country, discovering everyday life for the population in the capital Pyongyang to exploring the snowy peaks of Mount Paektu. Palin was also in the country just as the historic meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in took place, and was able to capture these days with locals from the secretive and little-understood country, as well as celebrating his own 75th birthday while there. 

After two years of planning and a series of complex high- level negotiations, granting unprecedented access, Palin and his team were able to experience North Korea in a way that few Westerners have ever been able to previously, with his historic journey captured on film. 

"To visit North Korea was an opportunity I couldn't turn down," said Palin. "For somewhere that is so often in the forefront of the news, it remains a complete mystery to most of us. That we were able to travel across the country and get some sense of everyday life was enormously exciting. The visit was an eye-opener for me, and I'm sure it will be the same for others. In all my travels around the world I have never had the same sense of fascination and revelation as on this journey to North Korea."

Added Channel 5's factual commissioning editor, Guy Davies: "Michael Palin is the best travel presenter of his generation, and for him to make his first series for Channel 5 with such a timely and extraordinary journey is thrilling. His natural curiosity and sensitivity make him the ideal person to visit and discover North Korea, and meet the people who have been hidden from the world for so long."

Will Smith, head of factual at ITN Productions, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Michael Palin on this project which has taken two years to come to fruition. Given the constantly shifting political landscape between North Korea and the rest of the world this insight into life for ordinary people in what is often dubbed a “hermit kingdom” could not be more relevant.”

The series, due to air later in 2018, is produced by ITN Productions in partnership with director Neil Ferguson from FOMO Films.