Why Billy Connolly Will Always Be One Of Britain's Best Loved Comedians
While many of our national treasures probably know they're a pretty big deal (you can just imagine the Queen getting into bed after a long day before leaning over to Philip and saying smugly, 'They all prefer me to you, by the way'), there are others that fly a little more under the radar.
Take Billy Connolly, for instance - he's widely regarded as one of Britain's finest comedians, but has shied away from the limelight recently after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
After announcing his retirement from performing earlier this month after a half-century career in stand-up, music, film and television, Connolly makes a rare return to our screens with a new ITV programme, Billy Connolly's Ultimate World Tour.
Connolly said of the show: "It was exactly 25 years ago that I found myself taking the cameras out of the theatres and into the world. It's a journey that's taken me to far-flung places and offered up once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and I'm still discovering thrilling new stuff around every corner now I've pitched up in Florida."
He also appeared on the BBC's One Show this week, in his first interview since revealing he has Parkinson's disease.
Speaking to fellow Scottish comedian Susan Calman, the 76-year-old spoke about everything from art to kindness - and, of course, comedy.
With 'The Big Yin' having been voted the UK's most influential stand-up comedian of all time a few years back, in a poll commissioned by TV channel Dave for the Leicester Comedy Festival, it's clear that Connolly's comedic legacy is truly prolific.
Many comedians have spoken out about the influence he has had on their careers, including Shazia Khan, who told the i last year that his appeal was universal.
"Only a special, unique comedian can universally travel so far and wide and for so long," she said.
"Everyone likes Billy Connolly; old ladies, young people, old men, women, Whoopi Goldberg.
"He can swear all day and night and people still like him. He is funny, political, totally original, a storyteller, a truth teller and a working class guy who transcends all class, who speaks to everyone and makes them able to relate to him."
Janey Godley, meanwhile, argued Connolly had helped change the direction of comedy, saying: "Back when comics were doing jokes about their mother-in-law, he was holding a mirror up to society, making them look at themselves and laugh at that.
"He is a great comic because ultimately he wants you to be happy."
Featured Image Credit: PA