Sir Billy Connolly has given a frank reflection on his life with Parkinson’s disease – saying: ‘It will end me, but that’s OK with me.’
The Scottish comedian, 78, was diagnosed with the degenerative condition in 2013, but continued touring for another four years.
His last stage appearance was in 2017, when he performed his last stand-up comedy gigs as part of his High Horse tour.
Though he officially retired in 2018, the comedian announced earlier this year he was ‘finished with stand-up’ for good.
Now in a new documentary, set to air on ITV, ‘The Big Yin’ has opened up about the condition and his departure from the comedy stage.
According to the Mirror, during part of the documentary, in which he looks back on the final tour, he says: ‘It was obvious from my movement, that I wasn’t who I used to be. And so I had to explain it.. just to say that I am not defined by it.
The Scottish comedian, 78, was diagnosed with the degenerative condition in 2013, but continued touring for another four years
He bid farewell to the stage in 2017, when he performed his last stand-up comedy gig as part of his High Horse tour.
Now in a new documentary, set to air on ITV, ‘The Big Yin’ has opened up about the condition and his departure from stand-up
‘It’s got me and it will get me and it will end me but that’s OK with me.’
The comedian, who vowed never to return to the stage during the programme, also paid tribute to his fans. adding: ‘It’s been a pleasure talking to you all those years.
‘From the beginning when I was a folkie, right through, I couldn’t have done anything without you. You have been magnificent.’
During the documentary, called Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure, the comedian looks back on his career on the stage. The programme features clips of his best routines.
The Celtic FC-loving comedian, who was born in Glasgow but now lives in Florida, also highlights his interview with Michael Parkinson in 1975 with his rise to fame during the documentary.
His wife of 31-years, Pamela, with whom he has three children, also appears in the documentary, saying that the move to Florida has been ‘fantastic for me’.
Guest appearances on the documentary include Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Sir Lenny Henry, Dustin Hoffman, Russell Brand, Whoopi Goldberg, Aisling Bea and Sheridan Smith, who will reminisce about Billy’s 60-year career on stage.
ITV producers said: ‘Sir Billy Connolly recently announced that he was officially stepping back from live stand-up performance.
‘To mark this major moment in comedy history, this star-studded one-hour special celebrates Billy’s anarchic genius and life-affirming brand of humour.
During the documentary, called Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure, the comedian looks back on his career on the stage. The programme features clips of his best routines. Pictured: Billy Connolly and Michael Parkinson in 1987
The Celtic FC-loving comedian, who was born in Glasgow but now lives in Florida, also highlights his interview with Michael Parkinson (pictured: with Billy Connolly) in 1975 with his rise to fame during the documentary
‘There are also unique new insights from the woman who knows Billy best – his wife and soulmate, Pamela Stephenson.’
‘His A-list fans will share their memories of Billy, send him personal messages and pick their all-time highlights from his glorious comedy catalogue. The man himself will react to their choices and reveal his own favourites.’
‘Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure is a definitive celebration of an all-time great. An uplifting, emotional and hilarious hour in the company of the legendary Big Yin at his entertaining best. It will make you laugh. It may even make you cry. A fitting send-off for a stand-up megastar.’
Glasgow-born Billy Connolly is a passionate Celtic FC fan and has regularly attended Celtic Park
In the early 1970s, Connolly made the transition from folk singer with a comedic persona to fully fledged comedian, for which he is now best known.
In 1972, he made his theatrical debut, at the Cottage Theatre in Cumbernauld, with a revue called Connolly’s Glasgow Flourish. He also played the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Known for his idiosyncratic and often off-the-cuff observational comedy, which frequently includes the use of profanity, in 2007, Connolly was voted the greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups, and again in the updated 2010 poll.
He was knighted in 2017 for services to entertainment and comedy.
The ITV programme follows a BBC documentary in January 2019, called Made in Scotland, where he also spoke candidly about his condition.
Speaking during that documentary, he said: ‘There is no denying it, I am 75 [at the time of filming], I have got Parkinson’s and I am at the wrong end of the telescope of life, I am at the point where the yesteryears mean more than the yesterdays.
‘Because it is back there in my childhood and youth when I go to all those things that made me that live keenest in my memory now.
‘My life, it’s slipping away and I can feel it and I should.’
Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure airs on ITV on Monday, December 28 at 9.30pm.
WHAT IS PARKINSON’S? THE INCURABLE DISEASE THAT STRUCK BOXER MUHAMMAD ALI
Parkinson’s disease affects one in 500 people, and around 127,000 people in the UK live with the condition.
Figures also suggest one million Americans also suffer.
It causes muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, tremors, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, an impaired quality of life and can lead to severe disability.
It is a progressive neurological condition that destroys cells in the part of the brain that controls movement.
Sufferers are known to have diminished supplies of dopamine because nerve cells that make it have died.
There is currently no cure and no way of stopping the progression of the disease, but hundreds of scientific trials are underway to try and change that.
The disease claimed the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali in 2016.