Comedy legend Sir Billy Connolly has been sober for almost 40 years but he has to remain ever-vigilant about booze, even at breakfast time
Sir Billy Connolly has opened up about staying away from alcohol, even when it comes to his breakfast.
The comedy star recalls: “I was in a hotel in Arran in the Clyde and I ordered porridge for my breakfast. “I’d stopped drinking about a year before and was still missing it. The waitress said, ‘Would you like porridge royale? how does that sound?’ And I said that sounds pretty damn good from where I’m standing.”
“So I was waiting for my porridge royale, wondering what it included, and when it came, I had a spoonful and it was porridge made with whisky! I’ll never forget it. Every nerve in my body went ‘That’s it! Ha, Now you’re talking! Get it down you!'” But he knew he had to stick to non-alcoholic food or face problems again.
He explains in his new show Billy Connolly Does…: “When you give up drinking, your body goes on guard. So as soon as you taste it, your body goes ‘Stop, nee-naw nee-naw’. I said to the waitress, you will have to get me some regular porridge.”
The Big Yin believes his Irish-Scottish heritage plays a part in his struggle with alcohol. “Celtic races, they’ve really got it bad,” he shares. “They’ve got a want a need for that fiery liquid. I don’t know why it should be. You’re tested all the time, it’s like ‘Have a drink it’ll relax you after you work’ and it will. And then you become another guy… suddenly you’re in another world.”
The Mrs Brown actor also recalls a dangerous incident involving alcohol and Sir Michael Caine. While filming the comedy Water in St Lucia in 1984, a drunken prank almost led to a bus crash over a cliff. Billy admits he was “steaming” and thought it would be funny to cover the driver’s eyes.
A terrified Sir Michael Caine had to step in to stop the bus from plunging off the edge. Despite not missing alcohol, Billy confesses he misses his pipe and recently had a relapse. Speaking on the series, which starts tomorrow night, he reveals: “I miss it terribly. I went to light my pipe the other day.”
Billy shared a funny story about his son Jamie: “I hadn’t smoked a pipe for a couple or three years. Jamie, my son, always liked me smoking a pipe. He says, ‘It makes you weird.’. And I said, ‘On you go, I’m going to have a smoke’ and I lit my pipe. And I was having a lovely time in the sun, smoking my pipe. And then I heard him behind me. He went, ‘You’re off your head.’ I said, ‘What makes you think that?’ He said, ‘You’re talking to a wasp’. Aye, and I was.”
The much-loved comedian lives with his wife Pamela Stephenson in Florida, where the weather is good for his Parkinson’s disease. Billy has five kids, including two from his previous marriage. His family helped him when he found out he had Parkinson’s and cancer on the same day in 2013. He beat the cancer but still deals with Parkinson’s, which even took away his sense of smell.
Billy shared on the UKTV: “Being unwell is strange. Everybody else is OK and you’ve got this thing that’s wrong… you’re out of step.” He also reflected on his time as a young apprentice welder in Glasgow, recounting: “The noise. I’d never heard noise as loud as that. The pneumatic guns cutting the metal. I’m paying for it now with my hearing aids.”
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