1. ITV Report

Monty Python star Sir Michael Palin resisted the temptation to crack a joke as he was knighted by Prince William

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson

As a member of Monty Python and one of the country's best-loved comedians, it is a feat that would have required iron will power on his part.

Sir Michael Palin, 76, has revealed he managed to suppress a joke when collecting the “unbelievable” honour of a knighthood from the Duke of Cambridge.

The popular star was recognised at Buckingham Palace for services to travel, culture and geography, and is the first star of the Monty Python sketch show to receive a knighthood.

As he was knighted, Sir Michael revealed he discussed travel with Prince William, but managed to reign in a quip: ''He [the Duke] talked about where I was going next, any parts of the world I really wanted to go that I hadn’t already – to which I normally say Middlesbrough.''

Speaking afterwards to ITV News, Sir Michael told how the experience was humbling: ''When you come here today and you actually meet Prince William, the sword is laid on and you really feel quite've done something, you've been recognised for something.

''This is top of the list really.''

Sir Michael was knighted by the Duke of Cambridge during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace Credit: Yui Mok/PA

Sir Michael is no stranger to the role of knight, having played head knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The shows have produced some of the most memorable moments in British television but Sir Michael said if the sketch show was launched today it may have ended before being given a chance.

He told ITV News: ''Python was a bit of a mess the first series, no one knew quite what they wanted, and I can imagine nowadays, if we did Python with social media the way it is, there would be people immediately after the first show saying 'this is rubbish, stop'.''

Sir Michael also disclosed his Python co-star John Cleese has turned down the chance to be knighted.

“I think I’ll probably be the only one.

"John’s turned it down.

"I think so, yes.

"He’s rather mysterious about that,” Sir Michael said.

It has not been confirmed that Cleese opted against becoming a knight, but he did refuse a CBE in 1996 and said it was a greater honour to have a lemur named after him than it would be receiving a knighthood or peerage.

Vernon Unsworth was made an MBE for his heroics in the rescue of Thai schoolboys stranded in a flooded cave Credit: Yui Mok/PA

Sir Michael praised the “rather wonderful” experience of receiving a knighthood, which he said would have been “unbelievable” to his younger self 50 years ago when the Pythons formed.

He acknowledged the accolade was for his later work as a travel presenter, and praised others for recognising talents he was never aware of.

During his travels, Sir Michael has ventured from North Korea to the North Pole and countless destinations in between.

He credits his restless nature as the key to his success in later life and said he has no intention of retiring: ''I'm always looking for something new to do.

"I think the main thing is to keep going.

"Keep your mind open.''