Comedy legend Billy Connolly has hit back at claims he can no longer recognise his friends due to his struggle with his Parkinson’s disease.
Veteran broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson made the comments recently after meeting with Connolly in America.
The two men have been friends for decades, but Parkinson claimed he shared a “sad and awkward” dinner with Connolly, after he “couldn’t place him and asked how long they had known each other”.
Parkinson said: “The sadness of Billy now is that wonderful brain is dulled.”
However, both Connolly and his wife Pamela have hit back at the comments.
The Big Yin said: “I would recognise Parky if he was standing behind me – in a diving suit.”
Pamela added: “Mike Parkinson is a daft old fart – doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Billy’s doing great and still funny as hell.”
Connolly is a true legend of entertainment. He is loved by people all over the world because of his warm nature, hilarious storytelling, and generous charity work.
He began life in a showbiz as part of a folk band with Gerry Rafferty called The Humblebums. He had a great love for Ireland and was close friends with several members of the Dubliners, including John Sheahan and Barney McKenna.
He is an interview with Ryan Tubridy in which Connolly and Sheahan talk about the late great McKenna.
Connolly was diagnosed with Parkinson’s after having surgery for his prostate cancer.
He went public with his condition in 2013 at a Downing Street reception to raise awareness of the condition.
Parkinson’s disease affects the brain and can cause involuntary shaking, slow movement and stiff muscles.
It can also cause memory loss, disrupt sleep patterns and spark depression and anxiety.
Connolly has always been open about his condition and even includes it in some of his comedy routines to tackle it head on.
Here is a clip of some of his act, in which he talks about his condition. It includes a brief performance of the Jerry Lee Lewis classic rock ‘n’ roll song Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.
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Connolly said: “There’s a whole lot of shaking going on. It’s kind of weird, this instability. The only time it stops is when I’m in bed and then I can’t roll over. I’m like a big log. It’s the first thing I think about in the morning because getting out of bed is quite hard.
“It’s a weird thing because it stopped me playing the banjo and it stopped me smoking cigars.
“It seems to creep up on everything I like and take it away from me. It’s like being tested: ‘Cope with that, cope with life without your banjo. Now I’m going to make your hand shake so you can’t tie your fishing flies any more’.
“It’s weird. I’m trying to stay on the light side because the dark side is unthinkable.”
We wish Billy and his family all the very best. He gave this reporter countless hours of joy and laughter as a child and has continued to be a great role model and inspiration to millions across the world.
If you have a spare ten minutes, take a look at Connolly doing what he does best.