Billy Connolly has spoken candidly about his health, detailing the impact Parkinson’s Disease and a prostate cancer diagnosis has had on his life.
In an extract from the 75-year-old’s new book Made in Scotland, published by the Mail Online, Connolly recalls the moment his Parkinson’s caused his mouth to stop working when he was knighted at Buckingham Palace by Prince William in 2017, saying the royal must think he’s a “complete simpleton”.
“Still, when Prince William asked me a few questions … my mouth stopped working at the most inopportune moment. I flubbered and I bejabbered,” he wrote. “The Prince asked me something – f*** knows what it was – and I said: ‘Flabgerbelbarbeghghghgh.”
The Debt Collector star also revealed he was originally alerted to his condition in 2012 after a fan, who happened to be a doctor, saw him walking with a “strange gait” and told him he thought he had the early onset stages of Parkinson’s.
Sadly, the official diagnosis came the same week Connolly found out he had prostate cancer and that he had gone deaf.
While he wears hearing aids now and had been cured of cancer, Connolly admits the hardest part about his Parkinson’s is that it will never get better and will grow worse over time. Although he takes medication to control the condition, the comedian said simple activities, such as getting out of chairs can be difficult and he often has to ask waiters to help him up if he’s eating at a restaurant.
Touring is also tougher these days, although he says he always warns audiences that his left arm may shake about, while jokingly coming out on stage to ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’.
“I don’t know what the future holds but in any case, my doctor said I’d live until I was 90, which is 15 years away,” he wrote. “I wasn’t expecting to live that long before I got Parkinson’s. I know I’m lucky.”
The star also admits to thinking about death. While he doesn’t dwell on it, he says he has been offered to join a suicide society in Edinburg, which he has declined. Still, he has plans for a lavish Scottish funeral, complete with a flower-strewn coffin carried through Glasgow. He also wants to be buried in a wicker casket and wants a tree to be planted on top of him.
Billy’s book comes months after he was forced to defend himself after TV host Michael Parkinson claimed he had been severely impacted by his Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson claimed Connolly’s “wonderful brain has dulled” and that he struggles to recognise close friends. Parkinson even said the comedian forgot his connection to him at a recent awards dinner.
“I saw him recently – he’s now living in America – and it was very sad, because I was presenting him with a prize at an award ceremony,” he explained on UK TV show Saturday Morning with James Martin, the Mail Online reported. “We had an awkward dinner together, because I wasn’t quite sure if he knew who I was or not.”
Connolly and his wife Pamela Stephenson later rubbished the claims and even branded him “a daft old fart”.
“I would recognise Parky if he was standing behind me – in a diving suit,” Connolly told The Mirror in August.
Stephenson said her husband was doing great and that Parkinson didn’t know anything about the current state of her husband’s health.
“Mike Parkinson is a daft old fart – doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” she said. “Billy’s doing great and still funny as hell.”