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Michael Palin opens up about wife's devastating ill-health

The Michael Palin In Iraq presenter previously shared that his wife Helen had moved into respite care


michael palin© Photo: Rex
Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
Updated: May 2, 2023
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Michael Palin, 79, confirmed on Tuesday that his beloved wife of 57 years Helen has passed away. Helen was suffering from chronic pain and kidney failure, and tragically died just weeks after their wedding anniversary. 

The Monty Python star previously discussed Helen's illness in a highly personal interview. The Michael Palin In Iraq presenter shared that Helen had been suffering from pain that was not responding to medication, and had moved into respite care from the home they've shared for 50 years.

michael palin wife© Photo: Rex

Michael Palin and his wife Helen had been married since 1966

"I don't think you can cure it, but they will help her manage it," Michael told The Telegraph Magazine. "It's such a bore. She was so active and still is mentally. But the body is declining. We live life with our fingers crossed."

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Michael and Helen got married in 1966 after a six-year relationship. They share three children, Tom, Will and Rachel, who have gone on to have children of their own in recent years.

Announcing the sad news of Helen's passing on his website, Michael wrote: "My dearest wife Helen died peacefully in the early hours of Tuesday morning. She had been suffering with chronic pain for several years, which was compounded a few years ago by a diagnosis of kidney failure.

"We first met on a summer holiday on the Suffolk coast when we were both sixteen and we married in our early twenties. Two and a half weeks ago we celebrated our 57th wedding anniversary.

michael palin health© Photo: Rex

Michael Palin's wife Helen moved into respite care in recent months

"Her death is an indescribable loss for myself, our three children and four grandchildren. Helen was the bedrock of my life. Her quietly wise judgment informed all my decisions and her humour and practical good sense was was at the heart of our life together. The family ask that their privacy be respected at this time."

Michael has been through health struggles of his own in his seventies. At 73 he underwent a heart operation to fix a valve, writing about the health scare on his blog, explaining: "My heart scare reminded me that my body isn't indestructible and if I want to keep it that way I must know when to stop working as well as when to start again."

"Over the last year, I discovered a rather enjoyable equilibrium, a balance between work and relaxation that for the first time in my life favoured the latter," he continued.

READ: Everything you need to know about Michael Palin: age, children, net worth and more

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