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Michael Palin joins WWI drama in first acting role in 15 years

Comedian and presenter Michael Palin is interviewed on BBC Test Match Special during the tea break during the first test cricket match betwe
Comedian and presenter Michael Palin is interviewed on BBC Test Match Special during the tea break during the first test cricket match betwe

LONDON (Reuters) - British TV presenter Michael Palin is taking up his first acting role in more than 15 years, joining a drama about soldiers producing a newspaper from the battlefields of World War One.

Palin, 70, a former member of the Monty Python comedy team, has concentrated his career in the past two decades on making TV travel documentaries such as "Around the World in 80 days" and "Pole to Pole".

Britain's state broadcaster, the BBC, said on Tuesday that Palin was one of the cast members for "The Wipers Times", a 90-minute drama based on the true story of a satirical newspaper produced by soldiers fighting from the trenches from 1916.

The newspaper was started by two soldiers who found a printing press in the bombed-out ruins of Ypres in Belgium and it continued to be produced until the end of the year despite constant bombardment and fighting.

The name of the paper was named after the battlefield mispronunciation of Ypres.

"Just like the original Wipers Times, this new history drama will be filled with jokes, spoofs and amazing examples of courage behind the laughs," Janice Hadlow, controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, said in a statement.

Palin's last acting role was in the comedy film "Fierce Creatures" in 1997 in which he played a retired police officer running a zoo.

His last TV role was in Alan Bleasdale's seven-part drama "GBH" in 1991 in which he played a headmaster intimidated by a militant city council leader.

"The Wipers Times" was written by Ian Hislop, editor of the satirical magazine Private Eye, and scriptwriter Nick Newman and will be shown on BBC2 later this year.

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, editing by Paul Casciato)

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