Sun, 19 Aug, 2018Danielle McCarthy

Billy Connolly’s sad new battle

Billy Connolly’s sad new battle

Comedian Sir Billy Connolly is suffering from the dementia associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Close friend of Connolly, Sir Michael Parkinson, revealed in an interview on Saturday Morning with James Martin that the star “no longer recognises close friends”.

The Scottish comedian announced his Parkinson’s diagnosis five years ago, but now one of his oldest friends confirmed that the disease is beginning to have an impact on his mind.

During the interview, Michael recalled a recent catch-up with the 75-year-old, revealing they shared an “awkward dinner”.

He said: “The sadness of Billy now is that wonderful brain is dulled.

“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 awards ceremony.

“We had an awkward dinner together because I wasn’t quite sure if he knew who I was or not.

“But we were walking out after the presentation to go down and have our picture taken, and he turned to me and put his hand on my shoulders.”

Connolly was diagnosed with the long-term degenerative disorder in 2013, after having surgery for prostate cancer.

Side affects of Parkinson’s include involuntary shaking, stiff muscles, slow movement, memory problems and balance issues.

Sir Michael Parkinson became close with Connolly after the comedian made multiple appearances on his chat show.

Michael added: “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 was just a genius and the best thing that happened to me on the show.”

Last year, Connolly was knighted for his contribution to the entertainment industry as well as his charity work, which has involved raising awareness for Parkinson’s disease in recent years.

At the time the comedian revealed: “When I’m in front of people and performing, I don’t give it much attention.

“And I perform despite it. That’s why I put on the song A Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On — just to stick two fingers up to it.

“There’s a whole lot of shaking going on. It’s kind of weird, this instability,” he said.

“The only time it stops is when I’m in bed and then I can’t roll over. I’m like a big log.

“It’s the first thing I think about in the morning because getting out of bed is quite hard.”

Previously, the 75-year-old explained to a British documentary the moment he received his diagnosis.

“The doctor said to me, ‘You realise this isn’t curable?’ and I thought ‘What a rotten thing to say to somebody.’

“I always thought he should have said, ‘You realise we are yet to find a cure?’ to put a little light at the end of the tunnel. There’s a lot to be said for that.”