Billy Connolly opens up about how his Parkinson’s disease is getting worse

‘You’ll notice I’ve been holding my left hand – it’s starting to jump around,’ comic tells audience in Edinburgh

Ellie Harrison
Tuesday 24 August 2021 10:43
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Trailer for Billy Connolly: Made in Scotland

Billy Connolly has revealed that the Parkinson’s disease that forced him to retire from live stand-up comedy in 2018 is “getting worse”.

Connolly, 78, was first diagnosed with the condition in 2013, and after hearing the news, he joked: “I’ve got Parkinson’s disease. I wish he’d f***ing kept it.”

Now, eight years on and while receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Edinburgh TV festival, Connolly said he is dealing with the disease the same way he approaches work. “I hardly prepare. I turn up unprepared and everything’s a new challenge,” he said.

“The challenges lately have been medical. They’re getting worse. You’ll notice I’ve been holding my left hand – it’s starting to jump around. I have to weigh it up and see how bad it gets.”

Connolly, who is Glaswegian, also reflected on his popularity in Scotland, which began after he appeared on Michael Parkinson’s talk show in 1975.

He said: “It’s a thing the Scots have got about accents. You can be as popular as you like but if you don’t have a Scottish accent when you’re doing it, it’s different. They loved the fact I went on with my Scottish accent and got famous. They took it personally and they all applauded and it was lovely.”

A programme last year about the star’s career in comedy – It’s Been a Pleasure on ITV – featured tributes from celebrities such as Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, and Dustin Hoffman, who cried as he said: “Billy is the one and he is the only. I want him to be around for a long, long time.”

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