Sir Billy Connolly to receive lifetime award at Edinburgh TV Festival

Sir Billy Connolly to be honoured with lifetime achievement award at Edinburgh TV Festival after retiring from stand-up comedy due to Parkinson’s

  • Sir Billy was born in a tenement flat in Glasgow in 1942, was orphaned by the age of 4, and survived appalling abuse at the hands of his own family
  • After a stint as an apprentice welder in the shipyards of the River Clyde, he became a folk musician with a genuine talent for playing the banjo
  • In the 70s, as a comedian, Sir Billy’s startling, hairy ‘glam-rock’ stage appearance only added to his appeal and he quickly became a national star
  • TV shows, documentaries, international fame and award-winning Hollywood movies followed, and the Scottish actor was knighted in 2017
  • Sir Billy, 78, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013, a degenerative condition that damages parts of the brain over many years
  • The father-of-five announced his retirement after 50 years in stand-up as he opened up on his battle with Parkinson’s last year 

He was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013, a degenerative condition that damages parts of the brain over many years. 

And now, Sir Billy Connolly, 78, is set to be honoured with a lifetime achievement award at Edinburgh TV Festival next week, after retiring from stand-up comedy.

The icon will also be interviewed by his wife, Dr Pamela Stephenson, 71, about his career, at the festival, which will be held virtually.

Legend: Sir Billy Connolly, 78, is set to be honoured with a lifetime achievement award at Edinburgh TV Festival next week, after retiring from stand-up comedy (Pictured in 2016)

Sir Billy’s outrageous and achingly funny stand-up routines kept coming until a double diagnosis of cancer and Parkinson’s Disease brought his remarkable live performances to an end. 

The star discussed having the disease while at home in Florida in ITV’s Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure in December.

‘It was obvious from my movement, that I wasn’t who I used to be. And so I had to explain it… just to say that I am not defined by it,’ he said. ‘It’s got me, it will get me and it will end me, but that’s OK with me.’

In addition to Sir Billy’s award, screenwriter Jack Thorne will deliver the MacTaggart lecture, and Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda will also make an appearance at the Edinburgh TV Festival.  

Devastating: He was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013, a degenerative condition that damages parts of the brain over many years (Pictured in 2003 receiving his CBE)

Loved up: The icon will be interviewed by his wife, Dr Pamela Stephenson, 71, about his career, at the festival, which will be held virtually (Pictured together in 2016)

Opening up: The actor was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013, a degenerative condition that damages parts of the brain over many years and has spoken openly about his experience

Lin-Manuel will be interviewed by producer Jane Tranter, with their conversation focused on talent and how to nurture and support new generations of creatives.

The festival will also feature appearances from Whoopi Goldberg and climate activist Greta Thunberg, while comedian London Hughes will be this year’s alternative MacTaggart speaker. 

Born in a tenement flat in Glasgow in 1942, orphaned by the age of 4, and a survivor of appalling abuse at the hands of his own family, Sir Billy’s life is a remarkable story of success against all the odds.  

The Mrs Brown actor found his escape first as an apprentice welder in the shipyards of the River Clyde, later becoming a folk musician with a genuine talent for playing the banjo.

Remarkable: Orphaned by the age of 4, and surviving appalling abuse at the hands of his own family, Sir Billy’s life is a remarkable story of success against all the odds (Pictured in 1985)

Standing out from the crowd: As a young comedian, his startling, hairy ‘glam-rock’ stage appearance only added to his appeal

A star is born: It was an appearance on Michael Parkinson’s chat show in 1975 – and one outrageous story in particular – that catapulted Billy from cult hero to national star

But it was his ability to spin stories, tell jokes and hold an audience in the palm of his hand that truly set him apart.   

As a young comedian, Sir Billy broke all the rules and was fearless and outspoken. But his stand-up was full of warmth, humility and silliness too.

His startling, hairy ‘glam-rock’ stage appearance – wearing leotards, scissor suits and banana boots – only added to his appeal.

It was a flamboyant appearance on Michael Parkinson’s chat show in 1975 – and one outrageous story in particular – that catapulted Sir Billy from cult hero to national star. 

Sir Billy! TV shows, documentaries, international fame and award-winning Hollywood movies followed, and the star was knighted in 2017 (pictured)


Decades of love: Sir Billy met wife Pamela Stephenson, 71, on the set of BBC comedy show Not The Nine O’Clock News in 1970 and they married in 1989

Teary-eyed: Sir Billy announced his retirement after 50 years in stand-up as he insisted he’s in ‘great health’ despite his diagnosis

TV shows, documentaries, international fame and award-winning Hollywood movies followed, and the star was knighted in 2017. 

The Scottish comedian met wife Pamela on the set of BBC comedy show Not The Nine O’Clock News in 1970 and they married in 1989. 

Billy has two children, Jamie, 51, and Cara, 47, from his first marriage to Iris Pressagh. He and Pamela are parents to Daisy, 36, Amy, 34 and Scarlett, 32. 

Since stepping away from stand-up, The Last Samurai star has continued making TV shows, creating extraordinary drawings, and writing. 

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