In 2012 Billy Connolly was diagnosed with prostate cancer, deafness and Parkinson’s disease in the same week. Successful surgery cured the cancer and he now wears a small hearing aid, but the slow moving Parkinson’s will always be with him. ‘It’s like having a wee mugger following you around,” he said in a recent interview. But the Scotsman, considered by many polls to be the greatest standup ever, refuses to let his battle with the debilitating disease stop him as he embarked on his latest HIGH HORSE Tour, which saw him just finish an 11-night run at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. Protracted applause greeted him every night and he responded with, “You’re only doing that coz I’m sick…I can tell the f ***in’ sympathy vote.” The Guardian’s review headline read. ‘Older, frailer but the Big Yin is still the Maestro.”
“When I was a boy I was a Catholic. I paid the fine and got out.” He once said, but he thanked theChurch in his acceptance speech at the National Television Awards last month when he received a special award for his 50 years in the business. “I’d like to thank the Catholic Church for the rhythm method of birth control without which I wouldn’t be here.”
Hopefully it’s not the last time we see him live on stage in London. His health condition may have stopped him playing his beloved banjo, but hasn’t diminished his generosity with fans and ability to sign, which he kindly did so on my sketch after I left it for him at the venue.