‘A kind of social disease’ Billy Connolly talks snubbing ‘weird’ Parkinson’s help groups

Billy Connolly says his hand is shaky during interview

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Sir Billy Connolly, 79, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013 and retired from live performances five years later, with the condition stealing a lot of what the Glaswegian comedian loved to do most. But he dismissed the thought of attending help groups with people also suffering from the relentless disease, admitting he doesn’t want it to become the main topic of his life.

It’s weird, it’s a kind of social disease

Billy Connolly

“I’ve never tried to cover up the illness,” he said in a new interview.

“I’m p****d off with it. It won’t go away.

“People are kinda chained to it. But I try to be cheery.”

He added: “You confront it by saying ‘B****r off, I’m going to get on with my life.’”

But on the topic of meeting other suffers he shrugged: “It’s weird, it’s a kind of social disease.

“They seem to like meeting up, having lunch.

“I can’t imagine talking about it all day. I don’t want it being the main topic of my life.”

Having had to draw a line under his stand-up days, the musician revealed the condition has also robbed him of the ability to play the banjo, something he once did with such skill.

And the latest loss is that he can no longer wrote.

“[It’s the one that] cheeses me off most,” he told Radio Times.

“I loved writing letters, but now my writing is illegible.

“My collection of fountain pens and ink is redundant. It’s a pain in the bum!”

Following the success of ITV’s retrospective, Billy Connolly: It’s Been a Pleasure… last year, the broadcaster are doing it all over again, this time giving it the title of My Absolute Pleasure.

And watching back his old performances is a favourite of of the comic’s, who described it as like “watching somebody else”.

“I like it, I really do,” he beamed.

“It’s like watching somebody else. I don’t relate to it. It’s like I’m disembodied; it’s a lovely feeling.

“I was watching the Wildebeest sketch and roaring with laughter, which is really weird.

“I’m separated from it that much; the more so because I can’t do it any more.”

Billy’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times Christmas issue.

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