THE term “Renaissance Man” could have been invented for Sir Michael Palin. Over a 50-year career, he has been responsible for ground-breaking comedy, iconic movies, bestselling novels and non-fiction books and some of the most memorable travelogues ever committed to film. There is nothing, it seems, he cannot do.

But in spite of this array of splendid achievements, Michael says that his first love has always been live performance.

And now he is back performing live with a brilliant new show, Erebus, Python and Other Stories, which comes to The Lowry, Salford Quays, next week.

In the first half, Michael will be discussing “Erebus: The Story of a Ship”, his gripping bestseller about a pioneering 19th century sailing ship that battled through both the Antarctic and the Arctic.

Then he will regale audiences with his own life story, including tales of his life as a Python and his globetrotting TV series.

An amazingly sprightly 76-year-old with the energy of a man 20 years his junior, fans will no doubt be delighted to learn that he is just as charming and funny in person as he is on stage. Not for nothing has he been dubbed, “Quite simply the nicest man in showbiz.”

He is clearly excited about returning to performing live.

“It is absolutely my favourite form of performing because you’re right in front of the people you’re talking to,” he said. “There is no camera in the way and no editor to put it together later.

“It always is what it is. It’s happening there and then in that theatre. It’s never exactly the same two nights running. Sometimes it clicks wonderfully well and smoothly, and others you have to work a bit harder. But it’s the best form of performing there is.”

Michael, can trace his love of live performance to his childhood.

He said: “I first started performing am-dram as a child at the Library Theatre in Sheffield. Then at Oxford University, we wrote and performed our own material. Then I got rather lured away into TV and film, but I’ve always loved live performance.

“When we have done Monty Python tours in front of an audience, they have always been hilarious - sometimes disastrous, sometimes wonderful. There is no one there to make it better or easier. It’s the ultimate.”

Michael is delighted to be able to bring the story of the crew of the Erebus to audiences arou8nd the country.

The widely-loved performer, an enormously experienced traveller who has made several lauded travel documentaries, taking him to the North and South Poles, the Sahara Desert, the Himalayas, Eastern Europe and Brazil, goes on to expand on exactly why the story of the Erebus is so fascinating. Its first trip was triumphant; it made a hugely successful voyage of discovery to the Antarctic. However, its second voyage ended in disaster. Attempting to find the North West Passage, it disappeared in the Arctic in 1845.

Michael, whose tour will be supported by local bookshops - signed copies of his books will be available to buy in the theatre - muses that, “The Erebus story symbolises our eternal quest for the other place, somewhere we don’t know about, somewhere beyond the horizon that no one has ever discovered.

He said: “The modern equivalent would be the space race. The crew of the Erebus didn’t know what was in the Southern Ocean. It’s the same with the astronauts going to the moon – no one knew what it would be like when they got there. Erebus epitomises our timeless search to find out where we are and why we are here.”

Michael, who was knighthood in the 2019 New Year Honours’ List, believes he was destined to be a writer and performer.

He said: “I thought back to my school days and realised the things I liked most then were history, geography and making people laugh. Those three things kept me going at school, and they are still keeping me going now.

“Normally you grow out of things as you grow older and settle down. But it’s rather wonderful to think that in my mid-70s, the enthusiasms I had as a child are exactly the same enthusiasms I have now. They have informed all my work.

“What you’re good at when you’re nine is maybe exactly what you’ll be good at when you’re in your mid-70s. I don’t know if that’s reassuring, but it is to me. It shows I haven’t grown up at all. That should be celebrated, and I’m hoping people will come to celebrate it at my shows.”

In the show, Michael, is also eager to emphasise the significance of travel.

“There are two cliches about travel," he said. "The first is that absence makes the heart grow fonder and the second is that it broadens the mind. They may be cliches, but unfortunately, they are still the best ways of expressing why travel is so important.

“Travel is a wonderful way of widening of your experience. It makes you more aware. You look at things in a global way and see the world from different perspectives.”

And he has high hopes for those coming along to the show.

Michael wraps up by assessing what he hopes audiences will take away from “Erebus, Python and Other Stories”.

“Over the years I have built up a following of people who like what I do. In the show, I hope they get the chance to celebrate the diversity of all the things I’ve been able to do, from books and Monty Python to serious acting and travelling. It’s rather like a Python show – you give people an awful lot and they can pick out what they like. Hopefully there will be an abundance of material they’ll be able to enjoy.”

He concludes that the keynote in all his work is enthusiasm.

“I’m very pleased that after many years I have an audience of people who want to come along and see me. Above all, they want to share my enthusiasm for the things I’ve done. What is nice is that in my mid-70s I’m still as enthusiastic and as curious as I was in my 20s.

“Audiences will see a 76-year-old man trying to sing The Lumberjack Song in German. What’s not to like about that?! Live performance is a great way of reconfirming that enthusiasm, using it and spreading it around. Hopefully at the show, we will all have a very good time.”

Michael Palin, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Friday, June 28 and Saturday, June 29. Details from