United Kingdom

Billy Connolly says his Parkinson's is the 'first thing I think about when I wake up'

Billy Connolly says his Parkinson's is 'the first thing I think about when I wake up' as he revealed he is still adapting to life with the condition, and could even make a return to live stand-up.

The comedian, 76, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2013 and announced his retirement from live performing five years later.

During his glittering stand-up career, Sir Billy was famous for his energetic presence on stage.

The comedian, 76, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2013 and announced his retirement from live performing five years later

But Sir Billy, pictured performing in the 1980s said a come back is not entirely out of the question

Symptoms of Parkinson's disease include decreased mobility and difficulty speaking, leaving him unable to perform as he had in his pomp. 

But Sir Billy - known as The Big Yin - said a come back is not entirely out of the question.

He told The Sunday Telegraph: 'I've been floating between being retired and maybe doing it again. Perhaps the opportunity will arise, but it hasn't arisen yet, where I'll be asked to do something and I'll do it. 

I almost did it for the Parkinson's Society in the Albert Hall. I said yes, and then I changed my mind.'

The popular funnyman said part of the issue was his reluctance to be defined by his condition.

Billy Connolly performing 'The South Bank Show' in May 1979. The comedian is currently retired from performing

He told the newspaper: 'I refuse to let it represent me, that I have Parkinson's. I'm a lot of things as well as that. 

'I went to a Parkinson's Society lunch in Florida [where he moved last year for the climate, at the insistence of Stephenson, turning his back on New York, his long-time home, and its winters] and it was all people shaking and f******* about. 

'I thought, God, I'm going to be like that. This isn't healthy. I don't find it healthy to swim in Parkinson's.'

He added that Parkinson's - which is a progressive neurological condition - is the 'first thing I think about when I wake up. 

'And then you can't get out of bed. You have to get your wife to pull you out. But some mornings, I think about it the second - they're good days. 

'And you always manage to get out of bed yourself. And you draw better [since 2012 he has published four collections of his drawings]. And get about your life better.'

Another concern Sir Billy has about returning to live performance is recognition that his mind 'works differently.'

He told the BBC: 'I may do another gig, I don't know, I haven't cancelled that idea. But not right now, I'm not ready.

'I feel different, my mind works differently. I don't know if I can do it with my mind in the state that it's in.

'And I drool. This is a recent one. It's another gorgeous side of Parkinson's disease. There's a little surprise every month.'


Parkinson’s disease affects one in 500 people, and around 127,000 people in the UK live with the condition.

Figures also suggest one million Americans also suffer.

It causes muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, tremors, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, an impaired quality of life and can lead to severe disability.

It is a progressive neurological condition that destroys cells in the part of the brain that controls movement.

Sufferers are known to have diminished supplies of dopamine because nerve cells that make it have died.

There is currently no cure and no way of stopping the progression of the disease, but hundreds of scientific trials are underway to try and change that.  

Football news:

Jurgen Klopp: Titles don't make players better. I don't like questions about dynasty and dominance
Xavi's new contract with al-Sadd has an option to leave for Barcelona
Lewandowski on winning the German Cup final: We showed that Bayern is the best team
Pep Guardiola: we are Happy to play in the Champions League with Real Madrid, the king of this tournament
Xavi has extended his contract with al-Sadd until the end of the 2020/21 season
Asensio is in the starting line-up for Real Madrid for the first time in 420 days
Barcelona is demanding compensation from Nike. The company had previously withdrawn the form from stores due to poor quality