Halfway to Hollywood: Diaries 1980-88, By Michael Palin

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The Independent Culture

These diaries confirm Palin's TV image as intelligent and self-deprecatory, but can he be so modest if he's willing to publish diaries from 30 years ago? His entries from this distant era tend to bland geniality with spots of interest.

George Harrison is discovered repairing a hedge-trimmer. Alan Bennett tells a story of Noel Coward observing Dudley Moore at the piano. Much of the book is devoted to the slow progress of movie projects.

Even the infamous It's a Royal Knock-Out, in which he participated, was "peculiar, but almost magical". His view of Prince Andrew as "intolerably bossy" hints at the more acerbic tome he might have produced but for his fatal niceness.