CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: As final curtain falls on Sir Billy’s career…the pleasure’s been ours
Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure
Meerkat: A Dynasties Special
Billy Connolly is shy and retiring.
No, that’s only half right — the Glaswegian comic with the foghorn bellow, who reduces audiences to gasping, blubbering wrecks with his stream-of-consciousness routines about sex and drunkenness, could never be called shy.
But he is retiring, from the stand-up stage at least. After 50 years of inimitable comedy that reinvented the genre, he has announced there will be no more performances.
Sir Billy, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease seven years ago, says he no longer has the sharpness of mind or the physical agility to perform at his best.
In a 75-minute special called Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure (ITV), sporting a voluminous white beard that made him look suspiciously festive, he called it quits forever
In a 75-minute special called Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure (ITV), sporting a voluminous white beard that made him look suspiciously festive, he called it quits forever.
His departure was the cue for a fanfare of tributes from his many superstar fans. Elton John recalled a U.S. tour with Billy as his opening act. ‘The audience probably didn’t understand what he was saying,’ he admitted.
Movie co-star Sheridan Smith named her son after him. Paul McCartney remembered how he and Linda loved the controversy that followed Billy around in Scotland.
Dustin Hoffman revealed how the comedian told friends about the childhood abuse inflicted by his father.
Sir Billy, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease seven years ago, says he no longer has the sharpness of mind or the physical agility to perform at his best
All this underlined the other great Connolly talent — for befriending those even more famous than him.
Sir Billy is starstruck, as illustrated by one of the anecdotes that, sitting on the porch of his Florida home, he chose to tell about himself.
‘When I was being knighted,’ he said, ‘Prince William was really nice to me but I remember giving him really stupid answers.
He probably went back to the Queen and said, “That Connolly’s worse than we thought. The Parkinson’s is really kicking in.”‘
Between the plaudits and hyperbole, we saw snatches from some of his great routines.
And it’s good to hear a man contented with what he has achieved, without regrets.
‘I wanted to be a funny man, and I got it,’ he said. ‘The ultimate thing to do is making the audience one unit.
‘To see them crying with laughter like that is a privilege. Now it’s time to stop and I’m happy where I am. I’ve got no complaints at all.’
Sir David narrated a one-off wildlife documentary filmed on Botswana’s baking salt pans, Meerkat: A Dynasties Special (BBC1)
At 78, Billy is a gauche youngster beside 94-year-old David Attenborough, who hasn’t the slightest notion of retiring.
Last time I alluded to the possibility in an interview, he gave me the Attenborough ‘hard stare’, the sort Paddington Bear uses to register displeasure.
I won’t be making that mistake again. Sir David narrated a one-off wildlife documentary filmed on Botswana’s baking salt pans, Meerkat: A Dynasties Special (BBC1).
He’s been telling us about these comical and adorable creatures for more than 30 years, since the marvellous Meerkats United in 1987, but it’s never been quite so obvious before how terrible at childcare they can be.
Sir David Attenborough, 94, has been telling us about these comical and adorable creatures for more than 30 years
The film crew followed an alpha female called Maghogo, her two sisters and their three boyfriends, over a year in which the clan mislaid or abandoned all seven of their babies.
One was snatched by an eagle. Several were left behind when the adults fled in panic from a snake. One wandered off and got adopted by another family.
It’s often argued that wildlife film-makers should not step in to save the animals they study, but someone should have called social services.
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