Palin: TV Production like Selling Toilet Paper

By Rosser, Michael | Screen International, June 14, 2013 | Go to article overview

Palin: TV Production like Selling Toilet Paper


Rosser, Michael, Screen International


Michael Palin, the travel documentary presenter and Monty Python comedian, has taken a swipe at some modern forms of documentary storytelling.

Palin, who has made several travel series for the BBC including Sahara, Himalaya and most recently Brazil, said: "TV production today is like selling toilet paper. You are selling a product."

Speaking to journalist and broadcaster Miranda Sawyer at Sheffield Doc/Fest, Palin said he preferred films that "unfolded" over time rather than frontloading all the information.

"Documentaries are now selling the programme before it has even started," he said.

"They tell you what you are going to see in the first three minutes. Documentaries seemingly aren't allowed to unfold like they used to. Everything has to be pre-sold like toothpaste."

He added that classic comedy series Monty Python would not have been commissioned today because executives "would ask for a description of what we were going to do and we couldn't have told them". …

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