'Big Yin' Won't Let Illness Stop Him

Billy Connolly said he will not let illness keep him off the stage as he enjoys the best reception of his career on his latest stand-up tour.


The comedian and actor is currently starring alongside David Tennant and Rosamund Pike in the film What We Did On Our Holiday and is the latest star to trace his family roots in BBC One's Who Do You Think You Are, screened last week.

He has also embarked on a sell-out tour of Scotland despite being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease last year and receiving treatment for prostate cancer.

New York-based Connolly is currently in Edinburgh, where he is performing several nights to an audience of 2,200 at the Usher Hall.

He admitted it was "a bit scary'' going back on stage but said: "It's quite nice though, because since I got sick, I thought I might not go back on the road. But after about four weeks I thought, 'b****r this, I'm going out there'.

"It's good, it's a nice feeling.

"After about three weeks you start to get itchy again. You can only go fishing so much, and go for walks and read and watch television.

"You miss what you do for a living. It's your job, it's your function, so you just get out there and do it. It's dead simple really.

"I've got the best reception I've ever had.''

He said of his health: "I'm okay. I've got Parkinson's disease, which doesn't really get better, but the cancer thing has gone, so I'm alright about that. I'm pretty cool about the whole thing.''

The Celtic fan spoke after assisting the draw for the William Hill Scottish Cup third round on stage at the Usher Hall.

He said it was great to see the trophy, which he described as an "old pal'' after holding it as a 12-year-old when it was brought to his school in 1959.

The comic said his fondest Scottish Cup memory was a semi-final between Celtic and Kilmarnock "where a goalkeeper called Brown dived the wrong way and back-heeled it over the bar''.

Connolly, whose team endured a defeat by Hamilton Academical at the weekend, said the Scottish Cup was good for smaller clubs.

He said: "It's good for team football because they can't afford superstars, so they are going to have to play like a team and, as the Hamilton Accies proved, if you play like a team you can win, you can beat anybody. I'm a great believer in that.''

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