‘It p***es me off’ – Billy Connolly on living with Parkinson’s and his ‘hypnosis’ trick

Billy Connolly discusses his struggles with alcoholism

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Today, Mr Connolly will receive BAFTA’s highest honour, the Fellowship award, and will be presented with his gong at the annual awards ceremony. The Fellowship recognises Mr Connolly’s “outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, television or games across their career”. It has been received by some of this nation’s most treasured personalities and stars, including Sir Bruce Forsyth, Sir David Attenborough, Dame Julie Walters and Joan Bakewell.

And though Mr Connolly was no doubt overjoyed with hearing the news of his recognition from BAFTA, the 79-year-old has endured a difficult recent battle with his health.

In 2013, Mr Connolly confirmed that he had been struggling with his health after sustaining the initial symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Speaking to The Guardian that year, Mr Connolly noted how the condition was something he was “p***ed off with”, explaining how it had robbed him of a number of activities he used to enjoy.

The Scottish comic said: “I loved writing letters, but now my writing is illegible.

“My collection of fountain pens and ink is redundant.

“It’s a pain in the bum.”

At the time of the interview, Mr Connolly was preparing to pick up a lifetime achievement award at the Edinburgh TV festival.

He detailed how he didn’t prepare for the speech, and that this was similar to the way he now approached filming in general, describing it all as a “new challenge”.

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Mr Connolly added: “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.”

More recently, Mr Connolly described himself as feeling “deeply honoured” after hearing of his latest accolade.

The comedian said: “I can’t remember how many TV shows ‒ as well as my stage comedy ‒ added up to something that’s a joy to look back on.

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“A lovely thing. I have no regrets at all. I had no idea the Fellowship existed, but I’m told it’s a big deal!

“It’s lovely to be recognised and to become a jolly good fellow.”

Emma Baehr, Executive Director of Awards and Content at BAFTA, added: “We’re honoured to be awarding Sir Billy Connolly with the 2022 BAFTA Fellowship Award.

“He has made a remarkable contribution to our industry from his first appearance on Parkinson in 1975, through to becoming a national treasure on stage and screen, adored by fans around the world.

“BAFTA is looking forward to celebrating this award with Sir Billy in due course and thanking him again for his phenomenal career in television.”

While Mr Connolly is highly regarded for his stand-up comedy, his acting has also been highly acclaimed.

For his role in 1997’s Mrs Brown, the star was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor, while his turn in Disney’s Pocahontas also saw a new legion of fans support him.

In 2017, Mr Conolly was knighted at Buckingham Palace by Prince William for services to entertainment and charity.

A year later, the Scot retired from comedy and began focusing more on a career as a painter.

The 75th BAFTA Awards air today at 6pm on BBC One.

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