Michael Palin says he still talks to his late wife: ‘It’s a bit like losing a limb’

Michael Palin says he still talks to his late wife: ‘It’s a bit like losing a limb’

Sir Michael Palin has opened up about life without his late wife, Helen Gibbins, saying he still talks aloud to her.

The 81-year-old Monty Python star and travel documentarian announced in May 2023 that his wife of 57 years had died of kidney failure. She also suffered with chronic pain for several years.

The couple had met on a beach in Suffolk when they were teenagers, and Gibbins variously worked as a teacher, a therapist and a bereavement counsellor throughout her life.

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Monday (24 June), Palin said: “It’s like you’re a unit, and suddenly you are not a unit any longer, and it’s a bit like losing a bit of a limb, you’re not quite sure where you are.”

He added: “I do hear her and she had a great sense of humour. Sometimes I will have done something and I’ll get back and tell her about it. Although she’s not there, I know her reply and it makes me smile.

“I find myself idiotically in the sitting room on my own going, ‘Oh yes!’ So that’s good.

“She was great and we have good memories. So much of your own life is invested in that one person so there is a huge slice of my life which I now can’t really access in the same way.

“But we’ve got family, children, grandchildren, they sort of take over, but it’s not the same, not quite the same.

“It’s been just over a year but I get on with work, that’s the thing. And I hear Helen saying, ‘Get on with it, go on, stop messing about.’”

Helen Gibbins and Michael Palin (Getty Images)
Helen Gibbins and Michael Palin (Getty Images)

Palin met his future wife while on holiday in the seaside town of Southwold, Suffolk, and later fictionalised the encounter in a 1987 TV drama for the BBC titled East of Ipswich.

When announcing her passing, he said: “Her death is an indescribable loss... she was the bedrock of my life. Her quietly wise judgement informed all my decisions and her humour and practical good sense was at the heart of our life together.”

The couple had three children and four grandchildren, and celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary just two-and-a-half weeks before her death.

Additional reporting from Press Association