Billy Connolly jokes his career is ‘out the window’ as he gets Bafta fellowship

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Sir Billy Connolly (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Archive)
Sir Billy Connolly (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Archive)

Sir Billy Connolly joked that he was happy to receive the prestigious Bafta fellowship “now my career is out the window” in a pre-recorded message at the academy’s TV awards.

The 79-year-old Scottish comedian, also known as The Big Yin, lives in the US and was not able to attend the event in person but recorded an acceptance speech.

He was honoured on Sunday for a career spanning more than five decades.

Sir Billy Connolly gets an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow (PA) (PA Archive)
Sir Billy Connolly gets an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow (PA) (PA Archive)

Sir Billy, who has Parkinson’s disease, said: “I am very proud to receive this. Life is good. I haven’t been on the stage for about two years. This is kind of nice. It suits me.

“Symptom spotters among you may notice that my left is different from my right. It is just one of these things. Parkinson’s disease. I suffer badly from the disease.

“My wife puts on my clothes in the morning and takes them off at night. It is a jolly life. I have got no complaints.”

After telling anecdotes illustrating how the world has changed in his 50 years of comedy, he added: “I went from strength to strength on television and here we are today getting this award.

“I couldn’t be happier. It has made me such a happy man getting these good attendance medals now my career is out the window.”

Watch: Sir Billy Connolly on dealing with Parkinson's disease

He joins a prestigious list of recipients including Sir David Attenborough, Dame Julie Walters, Sir Trevor McDonald, Dame Joanna Lumley, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.

Sir Billy, who was knighted in 2017 for services to entertainment and charity, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013 and retired from live performances five years later, but has continued to record programmes and make TV appearances.

Born in Glasgow in 1942, he began his working life as a welder in the Clyde shipyards before embarking on a career as a folk singer and musician alongside Gerry Rafferty in The Humblebums before developing the stand-up act that made him famous.

He is also an accomplished actor, winning praise for his role opposite Dame Judi Dench in Mrs Brown in 1997, as well as The Man Who Sued God and The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies. He is also a gifted travel reporter, making a string of popular documentaries.

In 2002, Sir Billy was presented with a Bafta Special Award and made a CBE in the 2003 Queen’s birthday honours .

In 2010 he was given the highest honour Glasgow could bestow upon him, the Freedom of the City.

Two years later he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award by Bafta Scotland for six decades in showbusiness.

Sir Billy has been married to actress-turned-clinical psychologist and author Pamela Stephenson since 1989.

His most recent projects have been TV shows including 2018’s Billy Connolly: Made In Scotland, Billy Connolly’s Great American Trail in 2019 and Gold’s Billy Connolly Does… which aired this year.

Last year he released an autobiography titled Windswept & Interesting.

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