Michael was born in 1943 in Sheffield, Yorkshire. His father Edward was an engineer at Edgar Allen & Co., a steel manufacturer, for the majority of his working career. His mother was called Mary. Michael and his family lived in a Victorian house on the Pennines side of Sheffield.
Edward was quite strict, and sent his son away to the same private school he attended, which took up one third of his income (Shrewsbury and Brasenose College).
Michael then attended Oxford College, to study History. At this point he had begun to write short humorous works and submitted them to local magazines. He also joined an amateur acting troupe called the Brightside and Carbrook Co-operative Society Players.
At College, Michael met Terry Jones
, and they begun writing together. Michael spent time working as a writer for various TV comedy shows, and in 1969, he and other comedy writers (Eric Idle
, Graham Chapman
, John Cleese
, Terry Gilliam
and Jones) came together to do Monty Python's Flying Circus
Michael continued to work in television and the movies, and in the late 1980s began what was to become his second career: globe trotting, starting with Around the World in 80 Days
He had one sibling, a sister named Angela born in 1934. She passed away in 1987.
Michael has been married to his childhood sweetheart, Helen Gibbins, since 1966. He was 16 when they met. They have three children: two sons named Thomas (1968) and William (1970), and a daughter named Rachel, born in 1975. He has a grandson, Archie, born in 2006. Michael lives in London, south of Hampstead Heath.