top of page

Michael Palin Meets Jan Morris

A 35 min Artsnight film for BBC Two, 2016
BBC Scotland

A film celebrating Jan Morris' 90th birthday in October 2016, this is the story of one of the most remarkable figures of the twentieth century. After service as an intelligence officer in the British Army at the end of the Second World War, Jan came to international acclaim as part of the first team to reach the top of Mount Everest in 1953. As a journalist with the Times, it was Jan's responsibility to break the news to the rest of the world.

The following decade saw Jan covering the Cuban Revolution alongside Che Guevara, reporting for BBC Panorama from Japan and Hong Kong, following the notorious trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem and unearthing a secret plot at the heart of the Suez Crisis which led to the resignation of Prime Minister Anthony Eden. She soon turned her hand to writing books, producing some of the great masterpieces of travel literature including Venice (1960) and Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere (1999).

In this documentary, life long fan Michael Palin speaks to her both about this life of adventure, as well as her memoir Conundrum (1974) which detailed her experience of gender reassignment; Jan was one of the first figures in the public eye to undergo this process.


Alongside Jan, the documentary features her wife Elizabeth - they first married in 1948, and then later entered into a civil partnership in 2008. This documentary marked the final major broadcast interview with Jan, before her death in 2020.

"The only thing wrong with Saturday's Michael Palin Meets Jan Morris was that half an hour was nowhere near enough to do justice to a remarkable talent and a remarkable life" The Times

Michael Palin and Jan Morris.png
bottom of page