Wednesday 26 July 2017

Arise, Sir Big Yin: Knighthood for comedian Billy Connolly

The man known as The Big Yin has used his own experiences to captivate, delight and move his devoted fans.

By Kerri-Ann Roper

Irreverent, bawdy and fond of expletives, Billy Connolly has left audiences around the world crying with laughter.

One of the most popular and successful comedians and actors of his generation, the man known as The Big Yin has used his own experiences to captivate, delight and move his devoted fans.

After he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, he chose to mock his symptoms during shows by playing Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.

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It is his services to entertainment and charity that have earned him a knighthood at the age of 74, just months after an ITV documentary celebrating his career showed a string of famous faces discuss how he has changed their lives.

Comedian Peter Kay described seeing Connolly perform as his “comedy epiphany”, comparable to musicians seeing the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in the US.

Born in Glasgow in 1942, Connolly started out as a folk singer and musician alongside Gerry Rafferty before developing the stand-up act that made him famous.

But he is also an accomplished actor, winning praise for his role opposite Dame Judi Dench in Mrs Brown in 1997, as well as The Man Who Sued God and The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies. He is also a gifted travel reporter, making a string of popular documentaries.

In 2003, he was presented with a Bafta Lifetime Achievement Award and a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List and in 2010 he was given the highest honour Glasgow could bestow upon him – the Freedom of the City.

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Two years later, he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award by Bafta Scotland for six decades in showbusiness.

Three giant murals of his image were recently unveiled in Glasgow in honour of his upcoming 75th birthday.

Connolly disclosed in 2013 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and prostate cancer on the same day, but has since been given the all-clear from cancer.

He has been married to actress turned clinical psychologist and author Pamela Stephenson since 1989.

The couple have three children together; Connolly has two other children from a previous marriage.

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