Billy Connolly undergoes prostate cancer surgery and is diagnosed with Parkinson's - but will keep working

A spokesman said the comedian will continue to work in TV and on stage

Billy Connolly has vowed to continue his stage and screen career after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and undergoing surgery for prostate cancer.

A spokeswoman for the 70-year old comedian and actor, known as “The Big Yin”, said: “Billy Connolly recently underwent minor surgery in America after being diagnosed with the very early stages of prostate cancer. The operation was a total success, and Billy is fully recovered.

“In addition, Billy has been assessed as having the initial symptoms of Parkinson's disease, for which he is receiving the appropriate treatment.”

Connolly, who began working as a welder in the Glasgow shipyards but quit in the late 1960s to become a folk singer before turning to stand-up, is determined to return to work.

The spokeswoman added: “Billy has been assured by experts that the findings will in no way inhibit or affect his ability to work, and he will start filming a TV series in the near future, as well as undertaking an extensive theatrical tour of New Zealand in the new year.”

Connolly, who played a dwarf warrior in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit franchise, admitted earlier this year that he had started to forget his lines during performances.

Speaking about it, he said: “This is f*****g terrifying. I feel like I’m going out of my mind.”

There is no cure for the disease but symptoms, which include memory loss, can be controlled using a combination of drugs, therapies and occasionally surgery.

The star joins the 127,000 people in the UK currently living with Parkinson’s. Last year Bob Hoskins disclosed that he had been diagnosed with the disease, at the age of 69, and announced his immediate retirement from acting.

However Michael J. Fox, the US actor diagnosed with the disease in 1991, has continued to work and is now starring in a new sitcom in which he plays a television reporter who returns to the screen five years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Steve Ford, Chief Executive at Parkinson’s UK, said: “Billy Connolly is a much loved comedy legend and we are sorry to hear that he is being treated for the early symptoms of Parkinson’s. One person every hour will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the UK, despite this it remains a little understood condition and we salute Billy’s bravery in speaking out about his condition at this difficult time.”

Mr Ford added: “Parkinson’s can be a very difficult condition to diagnose, as no two people with Parkinson’s are the same, with symptoms – such a slowness of movement or tremor – changing on a daily, or even hourly basis.”

“Many people, with the right medication, continue to live a full and active live with Parkinson’s, but for some, it can be life changing and it is vital that Billy gets the support he needs to live with this complex condition. We wish Billy and his family all the best as they come to terms with this upsetting diagnosis.”

One in eight men will develop prostate cancer at some point during their life, according to official research. But the mortality rate has been dropping since 1992 and the survival rate for men aged 70 and over, if the diagnosis is made before the cancer becomes aggressive, is 87 per cent.

Connolly, married to New Zealand-born actress and psychologist Pamela Stephenson, has maintained a busy work schedule. He starred in the Oscar-winning film Brave where he voiced the lead male character and Quartet, which saw him play a womanising former opera star.

He finished filming the third film in The Hobbit franchise at the end of last year.

In December 2012, Connolly was given the Bafta Scotland award for outstanding contribution. He was due to investigate his family background in an episode of the BBC series, Who Do You Think You Are?

In an interview with the BBC earlier this year, Connolly said he wanted to stay young at heart: “Stay young. Me? I'm 37! I haven't changed my attitude to things since I was 37.”

Watch Billy Connolly's stand-up about having a prostate examination:

Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
musicReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Arts and Entertainment
‘Dawn of Planet of the Apes’ also looks set for success in the Chinese market

film
News
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight

tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

    Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
    Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

    The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

    Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
    Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

    Meet Japan's AKB48

    Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
    In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

    Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

    The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor