Sir Michael Palin has revealed how an elderly neighbour pulled him to safety after he accidentally set fire to his house while recovering from heart surgery.
The Monty Python star, 76, said he had open-heart surgery in September to repair two valves and was told by doctors to relax at home.
However, during his recovery he was doing breathing exercises and accidentally blew kitchen roll towards a naked flame and it caught fire.
Writing in Idler magazine, Sir Michael said: “I leapt up and grasped a hand towel, which briefly smothered the flames before itself catching alight.
“In some alarm now, as flames licked up towards the ceiling, I dialled the emergency services - but the moment we connected, the smoke alarm went off and I couldn’t hear a word they were saying.
“Just caught something about washing my hands which made me realise that, without my glasses on, I’d rung 111 instead of 999. But I washed my hands anyway, and by a fantastic stroke of luck, the loose tap that we never had fixed finally came apart, dousing the ceiling and partially extinguishing the fire.”
At that point, Sir Michael said, his 86-year-old neighbour – who had undergone heart surgery the previous week – wrenched open the window and pulled him to safety.
He added: “Thank God he’d been told to take it easy, otherwise he’d have been out playing golf and my house would have been a write-off.”