Monty Python star Michael Palin told of his ‘great dismay’ at the threatened closure of Bradford’s flagship National Media Museum as he backed the Telegraph & Argus fight to save it.

The Sheffield-born actor and travel documentary maker visited the museum in 2008 for the 14th Bradford International Film Festival, where he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Yorkshire playwright Alan Bennett.

After learning it faces the axe in the face of drastic government funding cuts, he told the T&A: “I have had some very successful and happy visits to the museum, both as a curious visitor and a film-maker.

“I particularly remember the special screening and discussion for A Private Function, which reunited Alan Bennett and many of the cast.

“As someone who has spent a lifetime both watching films and making them, it seems inconceivable that anyone should consider closing a facility with three superb screens, as well as a national photographic collection and displays which encourage youngsters to learn how the film and television industry works.”

The Fish Called Wanda star has joined fellow Python Terry Jones, international film star John Hurt and a chorus of other celebrities in supporting the T&A campaign to save the museum, which is under threat along with the National Rail Museum in York and the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

Last week, Ian Blatchford, head of the Science Museum Group, said if the Government’s latest spending review this month amounted to a ten per cent cut there would be “little choice other than to close one of our museums” as its structural deficit would rise from £2 million to £6 million a year.

A petition on the T&A website and a second on the 38 Degrees campaigning website, set up by former museum worker Tom Woolley, have now collected a combined 26,000 signatures.

Mr Palin, a four-time BAFTA award winner, said: “Britain's creative industries are known and respected worldwide. They are an increasingly significant national asset. And as heavy industry moves abroad, we shall, more than ever, have to live on our wits – as authors, actors, sound and camera technicians, editors, designers and so on.

“We should be proud of our heritage as film and programme makers and we should be aware of how much we need to encourage our talent in the future.

“Closing our only National Media Museum flies in the face of reason.

“We should be doing everything possible to maintain and improve any facility that encourages and stimulates our nation's creativity.”