COMEDIAN Billy Connolly – known affectionately as the Big Yin – is to embark on a major tour of Scotland just over a year after revealing he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and prostate cancer.
The 71-year-old – who vowed to continue working after his health problems emerged –yesterday confirmed 15 dates around the country in October.
His run of shows, tickets for which go on sale tomorrow, have been confirmed just months after Connolly admitted that he was suffering from memory loss.
The dates will be his first in Scotland for five years and follow extensive tours of the United States and New Zealand earlier this year.
Further shows may be added depending on demand as a number of dates have been left open during the run, from 29 September until 27 October.
The Glasgow-born comic will open the Scottish tour with two nights at Aberdeen’s Music Hall, before a night at Perth Concert Hall, four shows at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh and a one-off at the Caird Hall in Dundee, rounding off with a week-long run at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow.
John Langford, director of live entertainment at the Clyde Auditorium, the SECC and Hydro in Glasgow, said: “We can’t wait to welcome such a legendary comedian through the doors this October. The Big Yin – one of our own and back on home soil.”
Joyce Summers, of the Music Hall, said: “When Billy last played here five years ago, the tickets were instantly snapped up by fans who burned up our phone lines and besieged the Music Hall, so we fully expect the 2,600 up for grabs to fly out the door on Friday.”
The live shows will get under way just days after Connolly launches his latest film, What We Did On Our Holiday, which he made despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s and cancer before filming started.
The Scotsman revealed last month how Connolly kept his illness secret from the cast and crew while he was working on the film, which by coincidence features the star as a grandfather who knows he has terminal cancer. He had to film a number of poignant scenes showing his character’s struggle to keep the seriousness of his illness from members of his family.
Connolly’s announcement about his illnesses, made last September, confirmed he had recently undergone surgery after being diagnosed with the “very early stages” of prostate cancer. The surgery was described as “a complete success”. The statement also confirmed he was receiving treatment for the “initial symptoms” of Parkinson’s.
Connolly’s live shows in his home country will be competing with the eagerly awaited Still Game reunion, which has already been expanded from four shows, initially announced last October to 21 so far.
Fellow Glasgow comics Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill will be reviving their Jack and Victor characters for the first time in seven years for the run of shows at the Hydro from 19 September until 10 October.
Connolly’s announcement about his health problems revealed he had been assured by experts that they would in no way “inhibit or affect his ability to work”.
However, he appeared to forget his lines in Belfast.
Last December, Connolly admitted he was having problems with memory loss, but insisted it was just “something that comes with age”.