BILLY Connolly is to exchange the sunshine of Los Angeles for the rain showers of Aberdeenshire, by making his permanent home in Scotland.
The stand-up comic and actor has sold his Hollywood mansion and plans to make Candacraig House, the 12-bedroom baronial retreat he bought as a summer residence, his main home.
The announcement was made by Pamela Stephenson, his wife and writer of his best-selling biography, during a literary talk in Aberdeen. She said: "I totally see this as our home now. We have sold our place in Los Angeles, so this is our base. Billy and I always said we'd probably settle here."
The comedian's return represents a seismic shift in relations between him and his native land, which have often been of a love/hate variety. While he was happy to extol its beauty and history in programmes such as Billy Connolly's World Tour of Scotland, he has also made public attacks on politicians, the parliament and the press.
In an interview in 2001, Connolly said: "I left Scotland because it was time for me to leave in millions of ways. I outgrew it, or at least I outgrew the media. It was becoming very uncomfortable for me. The negativity felt like a disease."
He then said: "I hate my country for the way it holds people back, tells them they're not good enough ... it's not just Scotland, it's all of Britain, this negativity." He has, however, been a generous defender of the Scottish climate. "I hate all those weathermen who tell you that rain is bad weather. There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing."
Connolly bought the 12-acre estate from Anita Roddick, the founder of the Body Shop, for 750,000 in 1998 and has regularly brought over Hollywood friends such as Robin Williams, Steve Buscemi and Steve Martin, who have then attended the local annual Highland Games.
Ms Stephenson explained, however, that the return to Scotland would be complicated by the fact that their three daughters, one of whom has special needs, have been raised primarily in the United States.
Speaking after a lunchtime talk at Aberdeen Music Hall to promote her new book, Treasure Islands, Ms Stephenson said: "The plan at this point is to live there but it's difficult. We're not based in America, but we have two children who are basically American and live there.
"The children all love coming here, though. Our American friends just can't get enough of it. They love it here and we're always getting requests for people coming to stay."
Yesterday Kate Dean, the leader of Aberdeen City Council, said she was delighted to hear that the Connollys were planning to make the North-east their permanent home. She said: "Billy Connolly is just a huge personality, fantastically well-liked and respected at home and around the world.
"We're proud that he and his wife, who has a tremendous following of her own, have decided that the North-east is the perfect place to settle. They are yet another example of a family who have come here, perhaps knowing little about the place, and have come to love it so much they don't want to leave."
A spokesman for TicketyBoo Productions, Mr Connolly's production company, said: "We have nothing to say on this matter."