‘My parents sent me to private school so I would become a good citizen’ says Michael Palin

'It's a misconception that private school turns everyone into snobs,' says Michael Palin
'It's a misconception that private school turns everyone into snobs,' says Michael Palin - KEN MCKAY/ITV/SHUTTERSTOCK

Michael Palin has said his parents sent him to private school so he would become a good citizen.

The Monty Python star, who attended Shrewsbury School, said that he was given “great opportunities” at the boarding institution.

Speaking on the Headliners podcast, Palin said: “I think probably the main misconception is that it turns everybody into snobs and people feel that they are better off than the rest of the world. I think that’s a misconception.”

“At Shrewsbury, all right people had a certain amount of money, but people were from all sorts of backgrounds,” he said.

Praising the school, the 80-year-old actor and comedian said: “We weren’t ordered about all the time. We were given great opportunities, we had wonderful playing fields, we also had two or three masters who were terribly important to me in the future of my career – and were very understanding.”

Sacrifices made

Shrewsbury School, which Palin attended from 1957 to 1961, costs £14,660 a term to board.

The school’s alumni are called ‘Old Salopians’ and include the likes of naturalist Charles Darwin, soldier Sir Philip Sidney and mountaineer Andrew Irvine.

Palin said: “My parents sent me to Shrewsbury and my father was earning, in a year, about three times what it would cost to send me to school. He didn’t have much money and I have since found out that my mother was selling odd bits of jewellery just to make sure I kept going.”

He believes his parents made sacrifices to send him to school because “if I went to Shrewsbury I would be like my father and my grandfather and come out as a sort of good citizen and also with a greater chance of going to university.”

Despite his father and grandfather attending the boarding school, Palin broke this tradition with his children.

Good alternatives

He says his wife “couldn’t conceive of the idea of sending children away to school, especially up to Shropshire”.

“We lived in London and we were very close to some very good comprehensive schools and a very good primary school. We had perfectly good alternatives. I wasn’t in any way going to fight for sending my children to what seemed an exceptionally privileged school when they could walk to school from our house,” he said.

“It was mainly my wife’s absolute dogmatic assertion that you shouldn’t send them to public school.”

Palin’s wife, Helen Gibbins, died at age 80 in May of this year and together they shared three children: Thomas, 54, William, 52, and Rachel, 48.

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