Sir Michael Palin has announced the death of his wife, Helen, after 57 years of marriage.

The 79-year-old TV star, who is best known for his part in irreverent comedy group Monty Python, shared news of her death on his official website.

He wrote: “My dearest wife Helen died peacefully in the early hours of Tuesday morning. She had been suffering with chronic pain for several years, which was compounded a few years ago by a diagnosis of kidney failure.

“We first met on a summer holiday on the Suffolk coast when we were both sixteen and we married in our early twenties. Two and a half weeks ago we celebrated our 57th wedding anniversary.

“Her death is an indescribable loss for myself, our three children and four grandchildren.

“Helen was the bedrock of my life. Her quietly wise judgment informed all my decisions, and her humour and practical good sense was at the heart of our life together.”

The family have asked that their privacy be respected at this time.

Palin fictionalised the couple’s meeting in the 1987 BBC television drama East of Ipswich, set in a 1950s Suffolk seaside town.

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The couple, who settled in Gospel Oak, northwest London, went on to have three children – Thomas, William and Rachel.

Following his success in Monty Python – alongside Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Terry Jones – Palin went on to star in films including A Fish Called Wanda, for which he won a BAFTA.

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He has since reinvented himself as a globetrotter and travel presenter, visiting locations including North Korea and the Himalayas for BBC documentaries and has written numerous travel books.

In 2019, Palin was knighted for services to travel, culture and geography.

The same year, he was forced to cancel a UK-wide book tour to allow him to undergo heart surgery to fix a “leaky” valve.