Sir Billy Connolly to say goodbye to stand-up career in ITV special

Sir Billy Connolly, 77, set to say goodbye to his renowned stand-up career in an ‘uplifting and emotional’ ITV special

  • Billy will star in a ITV special Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure this winter 
  • The comedian, 77, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013 
  • Billy told Sky News in March he is ‘finished with stand-up’ due to his symptoms worsening 
  • Last year he said he had ‘started drooling’, his walking is impaired and he has difficulty hearing 
  • The actor said he doesn’t want the disease to define him 

Sir Billy Connolly will say a final goodbye to his incredible stand-up career in an ‘uplifting and emotional’ special on ITV.  

ITV released its winter schedule on Wednesday, with the 77-year-old comedian set to star in the documentary, Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure from his home in Florida. 

Back in March, Billy confirmed his retirement from stand-up comedy due to his battle with Parkinson’s disease. 

Last hurrah: Sir Billy Connolly will say a final goodbye to his incredible stand-up career in an ‘uplifting and emotional’ special (pictured in 2016)

The show with feature the comedian’s ‘greatest stand-up moments, unseen performance footage and exclusive chats with some of Billy’s biggest famous fans.’

Guest appearances include Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Sir Lenny Henry, Dustin Hoffman, Russell Brand, Whoopi Goldberg, Aisling Bea and Sheridan Smith, who will reminisce about Billy’s 60-year career on stage.

ITV producers said: ‘Sir Billy Connolly recently announced that he was officially stepping back from live stand-up performance. 

Legend: ITV released its winter schedule on Wednesday, with the comedian, 77, set to star in the documentary, Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure from his home in Florida (pictured 2014)

‘To mark this major moment in comedy history, this star-studded one-hour special celebrates Billy’s anarchic genius and life-affirming brand of humour. 

‘There are also unique new insights from the woman who knows Billy best – his wife and soulmate, Pamela Stephenson.’ 

‘His A-list fans will share their memories of Billy, send him personal messages and pick their all-time highlights from his glorious comedy catalogue. The man himself will react to their choices and reveal his own favourites.’ 

Talented: Billy poses with his wife Pamela Stephenson, after being knighted by the Duke of Cambridge during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on October 31, 2017

‘Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure is a definitive celebration of an all-time great. An uplifting, emotional and hilarious hour in the company of the legendary Big Yin at his entertaining best. It will make you laugh. It may even make you cry. A fitting send-off for a stand-up megastar.’

Billy revealed he was standing down from stand-up earlier this year because of his Parkinson’s.

The Scottish star had been diagnosed with the degenerative disease in 2013.

Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years.  

Billy told Sky News: ‘I’m finished with stand-up – it was lovely and it was lovely being good at it. It was the first thing I was ever good at.’

Sharing his struggles: After his diagnosis, Billy continued to tour with his stand-up shows until 2017, but said his Parkinson’s made him get ‘rooted to the spot and afraid to move’

Billy is invited to numerous engagements with other Parkinson’s sufferers, but admitted he turns a lot down because he doesn’t think it would be ‘particularly good’ to let the disease ‘define’ him.

He said: ‘I’m always being asked to go to Parkinson’s things and spend time with Parkinson’s people, having lunch or something like that. And I don’t approve of it.

‘I don’t think you should let Parkinson’s define you and all your pals be Parkinson’s people.

‘I don’t think it’s particularly good for you. So I don’t do it.’  

Gifted: In the early 1970s, Connolly made the transition from folk singer with a comedic persona to fully fledged comedian, for which he is now best known (pictured in the 1980s)

The Mrs Brown star said he does get ‘upset’ over his diagnosis, and admitted it means he walks ‘like a drunk man’ at times, and it can limit him from doing certain things, such as putting change back in his wallet.  

He added: ‘Certain things go wrong, your brain goes adrift and affects your body, and so you walk differently, you walk like a drunk man sometimes. And you’re frightened you’ll be judged on it. And you shake sometimes.’

In the early 1970s, Connolly made the transition from folk singer with a comedic persona to fully fledged comedian, for which he is now best known. 

In 1972, he made his theatrical debut, at the Cottage Theatre in Cumbernauld, with a revue called Connolly’s Glasgow Flourish.  He also played the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  

Known for his idiosyncratic and often off-the-cuff observational comedy, which frequently includes the use of profanity, in 2007, Connolly was voted the greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups, and again in the updated 2010 poll . 

After his diagnosis, Billy continued to tour with his stand-up shows until 2017, but said his Parkinson’s made him get ‘rooted to the spot and afraid to move’.  

 Throwback: In 1972, he made his theatrical debut, at the Cottage Theatre in Cumbernauld, with a revue called Connolly’s Glasgow Flourish (pictured 1979)

The actor then moved to Florida with wife Pamela Stephenson to fight the degenerative disorder.   

But the star has taken up a new lucrative career as an artist- and his artwork is selling for thousands of pounds.  

Billy said: ‘It’s just not the kind of thing that people like me do.’

Last year, Billy admitted his ‘hearing [was] going’ and he can no longer think ‘at speed’.

He said: ‘I may perform at some other point but I have no plans to. And I’m quite happy taking my medicine and getting along with it. 

‘I’ve started to drool which is a new one on me. This disease, it gives you a new thing every now and again that you have to deal with and drooling is my latest.

‘I walk unsteadily and my hearing is going and it’s bizarre that bits of me are falling off but it’s interesting.’ 

The funnyman has two children – Cara, 45, and Jamie, 49, from his first marriage to Iris Pressagh.

Billy and Pamela have three children together – Scarlett, 30, Amy, 32, and Daisy, 34.

Funny: Known for his idiosyncratic and often off-the-cuff observational comedy, in 2007, Connolly was voted the greatest stand-up comic (pictured 2005)

WHAT IS PARKINSON’S DISEASE? 

Parkinson’s disease affects one in 500 people, and around 127,000 people in the UK live with the condition.

Figures also suggest one million Americans also suffer.

It causes muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, tremors, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, an impaired quality of life and can lead to severe disability.

It is a progressive neurological condition that destroys cells in the part of the brain that controls movement.

Sufferers are known to have diminished supplies of dopamine because nerve cells that make it have died.

There is currently no cure and no way of stopping the progression of the disease, but hundreds of scientific trials are underway to try and change that.  

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