Comedian, writer and explorer Michael Palin was in Melton today (Wednesday) to honour fellow comedy genius and Monty Python founding member Graham Chapman.
Mr Palin attended the unveiling ceremony of a green plaque award, given by Leicestershire County Council, which has been installed at Mr Chapman’s former family home on Burton Road.
He was joined at the ceremony by Dr John Chapman, older brother of the late comedian who died in 1989, aged 48, County Hall leader Nick Rushton and Monty Python fan Richard Sargeant, who nominated Mr Chapman for the honour using the name ‘Richard Norwegian Blue’ in reference to the famous ‘Dead Parrot’ sketch. Others in attendance included Graham’s partner of 23 years, David Sherlock, and various dignitaries.
Mr Chapman, who lived in Burton Road from 1953-55, began his acting career while a pupil at the town’s former King Edward VII School where a blue plaque was installed in 1999 in his memory.
After a couple of years Mr Chapman’s family moved to Cambridge Avenue before, at the age of about 18, he moved to Cambridge.
Mr Palin, who was visiting Melton for the first time, said: “I met Graham in 1966 when we were doing The Frost Report. He was a remarkable man, a good loyal friend and a very fine actor. His wit was so sharp and he had a fine sense of the surreal. I think he probably would have found it hilarious for a plaque to be put up for him but I know he would be very proud to receive this recognition from the town and county.
He added: “I’m quite in favour of these plaques. I think it’s important to remember the places where we were born and brought up and Graham was fond of Melton and his Melton connections. This green plaque is thoroughly deserved, not just for what this son of Melton created in British comedy, but for all that he might have achieved had he not died so early.”
Graham’s older brother, Dr John Chapman, said the family moved to Melton when their father got promoted from a sergeant to an inspector in the old Leicestershire County Constabulary.
Dr Chapman, who lives in Earls Barton, Northamptonshire, said: “I was delighted to see our old family home again in Melton after more than half a century. We moved to what was then a police house when our father was promoted to inspector. Graham lived there longer than I did and he later decided to follow me into medicine.”
Meltonian Martin Manship (65) has owned the house in Burton Road where Mr Chapman once lived for about the last 30 years.
Mr Manship, who made a surprise presentation of a Melton Mowbray Pork Pie to Mr Palin as a memento of the occasion, said: “I knew Graham Chapman lived on Burton Road but had no idea it was here until about three months ago. I’m not really a fan of Monty Python Flying Circus but I am a big fan of the films.
“I’m quite happy to have the plaque here. It’s a nice thing and it adds intrinsic value to the house.”