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Russell Brand hails Billy Connolly 'true hero, pioneer, gifted spirit'


Celebrities across the globe will pay tribute to Sir Billy Connolly as he bows out from his legendary stand-up comedy career in an an “uplifting and emotional” TV special.

The Big Yin is set to star in ITV’s documentary ‘Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure’ from his home in Florida, which airs tonight in England and on December 30 here in his home country.

The beloved 78-year-old Glaswegian announced his retirement plans in March and is bidding a final farewell to fans amid his battle with Parkinson’s disease.



Sir Billy Connolly

In a star-studded line-up who will take part in the show, a host of familiar faces will pay their respects to the man often described as the first stand-up rock star.

Guest appearances include those by Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Sir Lenny Henry, Dustin Hoffman, Russell Brand, Whoopi Goldberg, Aisling Bea and Sheridan Smith.



Superfan Russell Brand will also appear

And another of the country’s funny men who was inspired to follow his comedy dream by Billy is also set to pay tribute, in the shape of Russell Brand.

The comic took to Twitter tonight to remind viewers south of the border to tune in, giving them a sneak peak of his thoughts about the iconic star.

“A true hero, pioneer, gifted spirit. What better way to celebrate Christmas Limbo than with Glasgow’s finest trickster shaman @Billy_Connolly. A genius and a gentleman.”

Billy was diagnosed with the degenerative disease Parkinson’s in 2013 but continued to tour and perform until 2017, when he moved to Florida with his wife Pamela Stephenson.

He gave fans hope last year when he left the door open to a stage return .

But he has since confirmed his stand-up career is over and he plans to have one last hurrah on the telly, after revealing that his condition has caused him to walk unsteadily, lose his hearing and drool.

ITV’s show is set to feature the comedian’s “greatest stand-up moments, unseen performance footage and exclusive chats with some of Billy’s biggest famous fans”.

The celebrities will take a look back at Billy’s renown 60-year career on stage, and discuss their stand-out moments from his material.

ITV producers said: “Sir Billy Connolly recently announced that he was officially stepping back from live stand-up performance.

“To mark this major moment in comedy history, this star-studded one-hour special celebrates Billy’s anarchic genius and life-affirming brand of humour.

“There are also unique new insights from the woman who knows Billy best – his wife and soulmate, Pamela Stephenson.

“His A-list fans will share their memories of Billy, send him personal messages and pick their all-time highlights from his glorious comedy catalogue. The man himself will react to their choices and reveal his own favourites.”

Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure airs tonight at 9.30pm on ITV and on STV on December 30, 9.30pm.





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