Billy Connolly complains: “Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated!”

Gemma Thomas
Gemma Thomas
3 Min Read

Billy Connolly, Scotland’s beloved “The Big Yin”, has set the record straight. In his autobiography, the actor and former stand-up legend quashes any misinformed chatter of his poor health. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013, the condition is notorious for triggering uncontrollable movements, leading to shaking, stiffness, and bouts of imbalance. But Billy, as determined as ever, is still standing tall.

Billy Connolly says reports of his health have been exaggerated over the years
Billy says, “I never ever felt close to dying.”

Following a September interview, word spread about Billy Connolly’s struggles, including several grievous falls that once even resulted in a broken hip. And though walking may now pose a challenge, this star of “What We Did on Our Holiday” is far from waving the white flag. Extracts from his memoir, “Rambling Man: Life on the Road”, featured in The Telegraph, reveal his spirited stance. “You see, reports of my recent demise have been greatly exaggerated,” he proclaimed.

“There was a week a few years ago where on Monday I got hearing aids, Tuesday I got pills for heartburn, and Wednesday I received news that I had prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease. But despite all that, I never ever felt close to dying,” he recalls.

Billy Connolly on radio
Billy Connolly has had an incredible five-decade long career

What’s more, Connolly harbours a particular fondness for cemeteries, and he’s a stickler for attending funerals. His manager once remarked, somewhat flabbergasted, “Billy – even if you haven’t seen someone for 25 years and they die in another country you’ll jump on a plane.”

But to Connolly, it’s about more than just paying respects. “I just like to see people off. It’s important to me. Boys from school. Apprentices from the Clyde. Welders. It’s a bit like a school reunion. Seeing all the people from that place and time – that world I was once part of.”

Having hung up his stand-up boots five years post-diagnosis due to the disease’s mounting challenges, Billy Connolly has been candid about the tribulations of living with Parkinson’s.

However, ever the forward-thinker, he has shared a chinwag with his wife, psychologist Pamela Stephenson Connolly, about a fitting epitaph. Though Connolly’s initial choice was a jovial “Jesus Christ, is that the time already?”, Pamela wasn’t having any of it. So, in true Connolly style, they’re mulling over “You’re standing on my balls!” – in the tiniest of prints, mind you.

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