Michael Palin is not a nice man at all. He’s an ill-tempered lout who sits in bed all day eating fudge.

When he can be bothered to make the effort he writes novels, does television documentaries, goes on one-man theatre tours, publishes diaries, writes screenplays, does a bit of acting, makes radio appearances, records narration for the Clangers, drinks strong coffee and works for Monty Python. Parrots, cheese shops and Spanish Inquisitions were never expected.

But that’s about all.

He shares a birthday with Karl Marx, though Karl Marx is a bit older.

His shoe size is brown and his favourite number is 8.

In December he will be in Australia for three one-man theatre shows; the first half of the show will be very silly. Python will be there, as will Ripping Yarns and A Fish Called Wanda. Quintessential Palin.

The second half of the show is something completely different.

Michael Palin will bring the remarkable HMS Erebus back to life.

One of the great exploring ships, Erebus was a veteran of ground-breaking nineteenth century expeditions to the ends of the earth.

Setting out from Hobart, Erebus sailed further south than any ship had sailed before.

The ship was filled with fascinating people: the dashing and popular James Clark Ross, who charted much of the ‘Great Southern Barrier’; the troubled John Franklin, whose chequered career culminated in the Erebus’s final, disastrous expedition; and the eager Joseph Dalton Hooker, a brilliant naturalist – when he wasn’t shooting the local wildlife dead.

Michael Palin will give a wonderfully evocative account of what life was like for the officers and crew who froze and starved to death in the Arctic wastes during their search for the North West Passage, driven to cannibalism and poisoned by the food that they hoped would sustain them.