Sir Billy Connolly opens up on his booze battles and how he almost killed Michael Caine

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
3 Min Read

In an interview with the Mirror, Sir Billy Connolly opened up about his enduring battle with booze, even after being sober for over 40 years. The 81-year-old, diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013 and retired from live performances in 2018, shared a recent incident that almost led him back to the bottle.

Sir Billy Connolly recounted a breakfast mishap at a hotel in Arran in the Clyde. He had unknowingly ordered a speciality porridge with a boozy twist, which he admitted almost threw him off the wagon. “Every nerve in my body went ‘get it down you,’” he confessed, emphasising the constant vigilance required to stay away from alcohol.

The incident highlighted the challenges he faces, as he explained, “When you give up drinking, your body goes on guard. So as soon as you taste it, your body goes ‘Stop, nee-naw nee-naw.’ I said to the waitress, you will have to get me some regular porridge.”

Drinking was very much part of everyday life at the Scottish shipyards.

Reflecting on his past, Billy Connolly admitted to once risking lives during a drunken prank in Saint Lucia, recalling a near-disastrous incident involving Sir Michael Caine. “I was steaming,” he confessed, narrating how he covered the bus driver’s eyes during filming for the comedy Water in 1984. Caine had to intervene to prevent the bus from careening off a cliff, highlighting the potential dangers of Connolly’s alcohol-fueled antics.

Billy Connolly traces drinking problems to Celtic heritage

The roots of Billy Connolly’s struggles with alcohol, he believes, trace back to his Celtic heritage. Acknowledging the influence of his Irish-Scottish ancestry, he stated, “[Celtic races have] got a want – a need – for that fiery liquid.”

In his new UKTV series, “Billy Connolly Does…,” the comedian reflects on his journey to sobriety and his challenges. Despite his commitment to a sober lifestyle, Connolly admitted to missing certain aspects of his past, including his pipe. A recent relapse into pipe smoking showcased his ongoing battles, as he humorously recalled talking to a wasp while enjoying a smoke in the sun.

Billy and his wife Pamela now reside in Florida.

Currently living in Florida with his wife, Pamela Stephenson, Sir Billy Connolly benefits from the warm climate, aiding in managing his Parkinson’s disease. The couple, married since 1981, shares a blended family, with Connolly being a father to five children.

Billy Connolly’s life has been a rollercoaster, from a hard upbringing in Glasgow’s shipyards to surviving a 40ft fall into shallow water during his shipyard days. His journey from apprentice welder to renowned comedian and musician reflects a remarkable resilience that continues to inspire many.

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