Earlier this week, TV legend Michael Parkinson made headlines around the world when he suggested close friend Billy Connolly was being severely impacted by his Parkinson’s disease.
Connolly, 75, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s five years ago following minor surgery for prostate cancer and has battled in private ever since. Parkinson claimed Connolly’s “wonderful brain has dulled” and that he struggles to recognise close friends. He 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.”
Following the presentation however, Michael said his friend turned and placed his hands on his shoulders – but he’s unsure if it meant he had remembered their long friendship or not.
“To know someone as long as I knew and loved Billy… it was an awful thing to contemplate, that that had been taken from him in a sense,” he added. “He was just a genius and the best thing that happened to me on the show.”
Both Connolly and his wife Pamela Stephenson have blasted the claims made by Parkinson 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.
Meanwhile, his 68-year-old-wife 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.”
Production company Indigo Television also released a statement and explained that they’d been busy working with the comedian over the summer and said the star was “as sharp and hilarious as ever”.
Thousands of people in Australia suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a disorder that appears when the nerve cells in the brain become impaired and reduce their production of dopamine. Dopamine allows smooth, coordinated function of the body’s muscles and movement. When approximately 70 per cent of the dopamine-producing cells are damaged, the symptoms of Parkinson’s appear.
Symptoms can differ from person to person but often include a tremor or fine shake while the person is resting, rigidity of muscles, slowness of movement and unsteady balance. Other possible symptoms can include memory loss.