Beloved Scottish comedian Sir Billy Connolly and his wife, Pamela Stephenson, have shared the challenges they face as they navigate life with Parkinson’s disease. In a piece in The Guardian, the couple opened up about a recent serious fall that left Billy with a broken hip. The pair shed light on the relentless progression of the “cruel disease” that has defined the comedian’s recent years.
Billy Connolly was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013, a day that also brought the news of his battle with prostate cancer. Despite the challenges, he continued to perform for several years before ultimately retiring from live performances in 2018.
The interview delves into the struggles the couple faces, with Pamela candidly admitting that her husband’s loss of balance has become the most significant issue stemming from the disease. This deterioration led to a couple of serious falls, emphasising the physical toll Parkinson’s has taken on Connolly’s body.
Billy finding life difficult
“It’s very difficult to see the progression exactly, because a lot of things come and go. Recently I’ve noticed a deterioration in my balance. That was never such a problem before, but in the last year that has come and it has stayed,” Billy shared.
The comedian’s characteristic humour shines through, even in the face of adversity. Recalling his fall, he remarked, “It’s funny, that fall I had when I landed on my jaw reminded me of a thing I used to do on stage. I used to say: ‘I fell out of bed, but luckily my face broke my fall…'”
Despite the challenges, Sir Billy Connolly remains resilient, finding solace and joy in his art. At 80, he has taken up playing the mouth organ, demonstrating an inspiring commitment to embracing life’s positive aspects.
“I feel like I want to go for a walk, but I go for 50 yards and I want to go home because I’m tired. I’m being encroached upon by this disease. It’s creeping up behind me and stopping me doing things. It’s a cruel disease,” he expressed.
Pamela Stephenson, now in a caregiver role, also shared insights into the changing dynamics of their relationship. She revealed the extent of her involvement in Billy’s daily life, from helping him get dressed to driving him everywhere.
Pamela takes on new role
Reflecting on their journey together, Billy spoke warmly about the evolution of their relationship, stating, “I found a new Pamela. And it’s worked out great. I never thought that you’d be able to look after me the way you do. I thought it would annoy you terribly. You were such an independent ‘look after yourself’ kind of person. But you’ve rallied round to looking after me. And it suits you well. And it sure suits me lovely.”
The couple now resides in Florida, a move aimed at easing Billy’s condition. It is known that extreme weather can exacerbate Parkinson’s symptoms. Despite the challenges, the couple’s enduring love and Billy’s unwavering spirit shine through.