Billy Connolly discusses Parkinson’s and cancer diagnoses
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The beloved entertainer, known as ‘The Big Yin’, announced he would retire from stand-up comedy in an emotional TV farewell, three months ago. Sir Billy, who spent more than six decades as a professional funnyman, decided to bow out after his Parkinson’s disease symptoms worsened. And once the 78-year-old, who proclaimed he was a “proud Scot”, blasted Scottish nationalism in a brutal swipe.
Sir Billy was initially against Scottish independence but his mind began to change after the results of the EU referendum five years ago.
He described Brexit as a “con job” and a “disaster” during an interview with the Sunday Times, three years ago.
The comedian admitted independence “may just be the way to go” because “Scots voted to stay in Europe”.
Sir Billy said: “And I never thought I would say that.”
He previously described the Scottish Parliament as a “joke… wee little Parliament” and thought breaking away from the UK would be damaging.
Sir Billy’s opinions stemmed from being a self-professed “anglophile”.
He said: “As an Anglophile, I’ve never shouted for Scottish independence, but I might be changing my mind now.”
While his views about Scottish independence changed after Brexit, Sir Billy was keen to point out the flaws in Scottish nationalism.
Last year, he told the Daily Record: “I’ve never liked nationalism in any of its guises… I don’t like Scottish nationalism very much.
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“It is based on a loose idea about politics.”
Sir Billy described himself as a “Utopian socialist” and thought it was “time for everybody to get together”.
He used to be a Labour Party supporter before one unfortunate clash with a politician.
Sir Billy believed in the political group because he felt “every other party” represented “selfishness for one or other classes of people”.
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He felt Labour was “concerned” with trying to “represent a broader area” and “fairness”.
But his political views changed after talking to a Labour politician from Anderston, where the comedian was born.
Sir Billy recalled: “She told me she was born there too and then she started to try to out-slum me.”
He claimed she said: “My slum was worse than your slum.”
Sir Billy commented that it was a “thing that Labour politicians do” and thought it was “pathetic”.
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He later added: “Politics is so boring, you read two pages [of] b******s, who cares?”
Sir Billy claimed to have become “a kind of anarchist” and felt “the desire to be a politician should bar you for life from being one”.
He continued: “I’ve always found it shoddy, the whole of politics generally, a shabby affair.”
The entertainer admitted that he was “a lefty” and believed it always came across in his “music and comedy”.
He said: “I’m not a Scottish nationalist, I am not a Tory – I’m what is left.”
Sir Billy admitted that he rejected the “trap” of becoming a poster boy for the Scottish nationalist movement.
He felt that being labelled “a Scottish artist, as opposed to an artist”, politicised his work.
Sir Billy added: “It doesn’t seem to happen to the English, no one ever says ‘that English artist’ or ‘that English comedian’.
“The accent gives you this incredibly strong identity.”
While he admitted he was proud of his heritage, Sir Billy refused to be labelled or become an emblem of Scottish nationalism.
He said: “I am Scottish but that’s not all I am and I hate all that tartan b******s.”
Sir Billy believed an artist could “very quickly become a professional Scot” in a nation of 5.4 million people.
He said: “It’s the easiest trap in the world.
“It can happen not only to comedians and singers but to writers and artists.
“You become a Scottish artist as opposed to an artist. I suppose it is the same when you’re Welsh or Irish!”
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