The Big Yin: Sir Billy's career celebrated as comedian turns 81

The Scots comedian has spent five decades delighting audiences on stage and screen.

Sir Billy Connolly’s dynamic career is being celebrated as ‘The Big Yin’ marks his 81st birthday.

The famous Scotsman’s career has spanned five decades during which he has dominated the stage and screen.

From his captivating, idiosyncratic storytelling to some of the greatest punchlines in stand-up history, most comedians in the industry have been influenced by Connolly.

Born in Glasgow in 1942, Connolly has credited his working class roots for the content which won him his reputation as a comedic legend.

Billy Connolly at the Edinburgh Festival
Billy Connolly at the Edinburgh Festival

The 81-year-old originally worked in shipyards as a boilermaker before setting out to pursue a career in folk music in the 60’s.

By the mid-1970s Connolly’s crossover to stand-up was almost complete and, in 1975, he was invited to appear on the BBC’s premier talk show Parkinson.

His stage presence and unique storytelling skills saw Connolly go on to become a world famous comedian and in a 2012 poll he was voted the UK’s “most influential comedian of all time”.

In 2017, he was awarded a knighthood by Prince William at Buckingham Palace for his services to entertainment and charity.

Sir Billy Connolly

As well as an iconic career in comedy, the actor has dominated screens winning praise with critics and fans alike.

His 2004 role as Dr Monty Montogomery in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events won him a new generation of fans which continued with his work on Disney’s 2012 Pixar animation Brave.

In 2012, received a BAFTA Scotland Award for Outstanding Achievement in Television and Film and last year he was celebrated with a prestigious BAFTA fellowship award.

Connolly has slowed down in recent years following a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, and last month said his life had changed “drastically” in recent years.

He was diagnosed with the condition ten years ago on the same day he found out he had prostate cancer, which he later received the all clear on.

Despite his health, the comedian’s influence continues thrive all over the world, particularly in his hometown of Glasgow.

To mark his 75th birthday the City of Glasgow gifted him three enormous murals across in the city centre and west end.

“I thought I’d be all light-hearted on seeing them and jokey – but they’re so big – the effect on me is so profound,” he said at the time.

The comedian is still spotted around Glasgow despite taking up permanent residence in LA.

He delighted staff at Milngavie coffee shop Jessie Biscuit after popping in for his “yearly” visit to the local spot.

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