When is Michael Palin’s North Korea travel programme on TV?

The Monty Python actor was given unprecedented access for his Channel 5 documentary

Michael Palin in North Korea (Channel 5)

When North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in May, the historic meeting made headlines around the world.

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By coincidence, the meeting coincided with another historic visit, with Michael Palin heading to North Korea for an “unprecedented” new series about the secretive nation.

The new series had been in negotiations for two years, but the timing meant the Monty Python and Vanity Fair star was able to spend a week among the nation’s ordinary citizens, gauging their reaction to the news as part of the new documentary.

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When is Michael Palin in North Korea on TV?

The documentary will air on Thursday 20th September at 9pm on Channel 5.

What is the series about?

Michael Palin in North Korea (Channel 5)
Michael Palin in North Korea (Channel 5)

Palin covered more than 1,300 miles in just over a week for the two-part documentary, which granted the presenter and his team unprecedented access to North Korea.

From the capital Pyongyang to the snowy peaks of Mount Paektu, Palin interviewed the country’s subjects about life in the reclusive country, experiencing North Korea in a way most Westerners never have previously.

The two-part series required “two years of planning and… a series of complex high level negotiations,” according to a statement from Channel 5.

Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Palin also revealed that he and his producer took the opportunity to show Palin’s North Korean minder a famed Monty Python sketch  – the fish slapping dance featuring Palin and John Cleese.

“As we sat in the airport, we played it to her, and she just cracked up,” he said, adding that she had never heard of the show before and that North Korea might prove a “new market for us”.

Palin, who also celebrated his 75th birthday during the shoot, said the visit was an “eye-opener”.

“To visit North Korea was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down,” he said in a statement. “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 of was enormously exciting.

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“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.”