Billy Connolly reveals why keeping busy is the best medicine

The Big Yin says retirement is not an option. Picture: TSPL
The Big Yin says retirement is not an option. Picture: TSPL
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BILLY Connolly has revealed he plans to keep throwing himself into work as it takes his mind off his Parkinson’s Disease.

The Big Yin said his heavy workload meant he didn’t have time to worry about his health problems.

He has just finished filming a new television series for ITV where he travels across America by train and is currently performing a string of stand-up gigs in Canada.

And the 72-year-old Scots comic has just announced an 11-night residency at London’s Hammersmith Apollo in January next year.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013 after a doctor spotted him walking strangely at a hotel in America and advised him to get tested. He has also had successful surgery for prostate cancer.

He said: “I think retirement is an obscenity. It’s quite traumatic for people. They don’t realize what it’ll be like until you’re watching game shows for the rest of your life. You can only go fishing so much.

“What else am I supposed to do? You can’t sit around looking out the window thinking about your symptoms.

“My health is all part of the act now. When you joke about it, that all goes away from your mind. Otherwise it has a habit of reminding you that it’s there all the time.”

He added: “I’m doing fine. At a certain point it’s difficult to distinguish between getting sick and getting old.

“You don’t know what’s to blame for anything. Sometimes it’s good to say ‘Ach, I’m just getting old,’ and tolerate the s***ness but right now I’m feeling great.”

Earlier this year, Connolly told how tremors and lack of mobility in his left hand caused by Parkinson’s meant he can no longer play his beloved banjo.

He often played the banjo during his early stand-up performances and continued to practice in private after ditching it from his stage routine.

Billy Connolly’s Tracks Across America, which will be screened on ITV in the new year, will see him visit 28 states and 8,000 miles of cities, coast, mountains, desert and swamp.

He told how he had fulfilled a long held ambition during the series by visiting the grave of his musical hero Hank Williams.

He said: “I really don’t have much of a bucket list, but when we were in Alabama, I got them to add Montgomery. I wanted to finally see Hank Williams’ grave.

“I’ve done most of the things I’ve ever wanted to do.”

Last year Connolly’s wife Pamela Stephenson said her husband may have been suffering with Parkinson’s for a decade before his condition was known.

She said: “He’s probably had it for 10 years, so it’s very, very slowly progressing. There are different strains of Parkinson’s that I’m learning about.

“I’ve actually noticed his hand shaking for many, many years ... I used to think he was playing the banjo a bit too much. I think it’s been there for a long time.”