My optimism took a beating': Michael Palin 'moved to tears' in Iraq for new series


Sir Michael Palin revealed an upsetting moment on his trip to Iraq, when he visited Mosul five years after an American airstrike killed nearly 300 civilians. The travel documentary-maker discussed his emotional TV show to Express.co.uk and other press ahead of the new series launch.

While in conversation with Channel 5 newsreader Sian Williams, the Monty Python legend looked back on how he battled his emotions for his latest show.

He was asked how his “eternal optimism” referred to in the first episode, handled the challenging moments of the trip.

Michael explained: “My optimism took a beating in somewhere like Mosul because of what happened there.

“The fact that it was still people living in the rubble and the destruction five years later, that was hard but they were so optimistic.”

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The comedy star added: “We were moved to tears when we walked around and some children walked up.

“They gave me a catapult and I fired this catapult and I was very moved and I wanted to say to them I am so sorry.

“But, they didn’t want all that, they didn’t want a 78 year old blubbering in the middle of their group.”

In March 2017, an American airstrike struck in western Mosul and 278 civilians were killed, leaving part of the city in ruins.

He revealed: “My wife is normally very supportive of my travels, the longer the trip the better usually. She was worried about me going to North Korea and so was the family too.

“When I said to her, we’re going somewhere else, I think she felt somehow I’d not heard what she said.

“She’s usually quite understanding about travelling but there was really quite a lot of worry, which has a lot to do with how North Korea and Iraq are viewed.”

He declared: “So they were definitely a little nervous, yes.”

In his new 1000 mile odyssey he navigates through intimidating military checkpoints and visits the birthplace of Saddam Hussein.

Michael explores how life in Iraq is in 2022 and looks to debunk some myths about the country too.

By meeting locals and visiting families in the country he tries to gauge a feel of how the country has progressed since the death of the former dictator Hussein.

In some nerve-racking scenes he also scales the spiralling tower Malwiya Minaret, a giant monument which overlooks the Great Mosque of Iraq.

Michael Palin: Into Iraq continues on September 27, on Channel 5.



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