Michael Palin announces death of his wife Helen: ‘The bedrock of my life’

·2-min read
Helen Palin (L) and Michael Palin (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival)
Helen Palin (L) and Michael Palin (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival)

Michael Palin has announced the death of his wife Helen Gibbins who he described as “the bedrock of my life”.

The couple had just celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary. Gibbins was 80.

The Monty Python star shared the news on his website, writing: “My dearest wife Helen died peacefully in the early hours of Tuesday morning [2 May]. 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 16 and we married in our early 20s. Two and a half weeks ago we celebrated our 57th wedding anniversary.

“Her death is an indescribable loss for myself, our three children and four grandchildren.

“Helen was the bedrock of my life. Her quietly wise judgement informed all my decisions and her humour and practical good sense was at the heart of our life together.”

The couple share three children – Thomas, 54, William, 52, and Rachel, 48.

Last year, Palin told The Telegraph that his wife had moved into respite care after she failed to respond to pain medication.

He said: “I don’t think you can cure it, but they will help her manage it.

“It’s such a bore. She was so active and still is, mentally. But we’re both getting on a bit. The body is declining. She’s going to be 80 in October, I’m going to be 80 at the beginning of next year. We live life with our fingers crossed.”

Palin himself underwent heart surgery to fix his mitral valve in 2019. He previously shared that his wife was often wary of him going to dangerous places as part of his various travel documentaries.

“Well, my wife, she’s generally quite keen on me doing long journeys, but Iraq, no she didn’t want me to go to Iraq, not North Korea either,” he said last year.

“She’s very tolerant and we’ve been married a long time,” he continued. “And she knows that if I didn’t go and didn’t travel, I’d be impossible to live with because I’d keep saying, ‘oh, if I were in Iraq now’. So she said, ‘well go, but look after yourself.’”

Palin and his family have asked for privacy.