Sir Michael Palin lives up to star billing at Books by the Beach

Sir Michael Palin on stage at Scarborough Spa
Sir Michael Palin on stage at Scarborough Spa
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Step forward Sir Michael Palin - the undoubted star of Books by the Beach weekend.

Tickets for the globetrotting broadcaster and comedian were snapped up before you could say Monty Python.

We certainly got the 'full Monty' as Palin, armed with only a power-point trigger - entertained more than a thousand people for 90 minutes with Erebus - The Story of a Ship.

His account of the 100-foot long 'bomb ship' was lively and entertaining as well as erudite and educational.

Palin took us to the cold depths of the Arctic and Antarctica through ice flows, past icebergs, weathering stormy seas and the Roaring Forties and basking in coral reefs and calm harbours.

Botany, Naval warfare, fauna, flora, bombs, balls, parties, dances and disease were all put before us as Palin recounted Erebus' 19th century voyages.

He also brought to life the real life characters - on decks and below decks, officers and ordinary seamen and, on occasion, their wives and girlfriends - who were connected with the ship.

As entertaining as the event was, Palin never lost sight of the human tragedy at the heart of the true story - Erebus went down with all hands lost in mysterious circumstances at a time when communication took months rather than seconds. The Admiralty, families and a news-hungry public waited years for news of the fate of Erebus.

Palin had us on the edge of our seats and hanging on his every word with the story of the sea told by the sea by a master of his craft: a storyteller extraordinaire.

Palin lived up to his star-billing but there was nothing starry about him - he signed books and posed for pictures for at least 45-minutes after giving generously of his time and knowledge.