Billy Connolly responds to being honoured with knighthood

Is he to be Sir Billy... or Sir William?

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Billy Connolly has joked that he should be called Sir Lancelot after being knighted because “Sir Billy doesn’t quite have the same ring” to it.

The comedian, arguably one of the most successful and adored of his generation, has earned a knighthood at the age of 74 for his services to entertainment and charity.

Connolly, fondly known as The Big Yin, said that he is pleased at the honour but it will not change him.

Billy Connolly
Arise, Sir Billy! (Credit: PA)

Upon learning of the honour, Connolly said he has been speculating about his new title and whether he will be referred to as Sir Billy or Sir William.

He told the BBC: “I am a little embarrassed but deep within me, I’m very pleased to have it.

“I feel as if I should be called Lancelot or something. Sir Lancelot, that would be nice. Sir Billy doesn’t quite have the same ring.”

Admitting he “hasn’t a clue” over how he will now be referred, he added: “I think it’ll be William, I don’t know if you get Sir Billy. I don’t have a choice.”

He said he would like the people he meets on the street to call him Billy or Bobby, “as usual”.

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“Because I seem to have a very good rapport with the people in the street,” he added.

“And I’ve had it for years, and there’s a thing I love, if you see men digging in a hole, I like to say “Come on, get your back into it!”

Billy Connolly
The comic has given his life over to entertainment (Credit: PA)

“No wonder the country is in the state it’s in. And they swear and laugh and stuff, it’s good fun, I seem to have a great contact with the man in the street because I kind of am the man in the street.”

Connolly said if he attempted to change his “man in the street” persona, “it would be awkward and clumsy”.

He added: “(The knighthood) may change the way other people think of me – some people are deeply impressed with that kind of thing, as I am myself – but it won’t change me at all.

“I’m too late to change.”

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The Glasgow-born star said it is an honour to be given the accolade for both his career and contributions to charity over the years, but he does not like to brag about his efforts and he likes to “shuffle around in the shadows”.

He said: “There’s a certain satisfaction that comes from all of it … I’ve always found it kind of embarrassing to be challenged about my charity work – not challenged, but lauded, because it stops being charity if you join in the applause, you know? It stops being charitable.”

Billy Connolly
Billy with his wife Pamela Stephenson (Credit: PA)

Typically irreverent, bawdy and fond of expletives, the entertainer – who has left audiences around the world crying with laughter for decades – said he does feel comfortable with the honour, despite his rebellious persona.

“It’ll always feel strange to be welcomed into the establishment, it’s not a place I relish,” he said.

“I’m a kind of loner. And I’m not big on the bow-tie behaviour, but we’ll see. It depends on who invites me to stuff.”

He said: “I feel completely comfortable with it. Over the years, any time I’ve been associated with royalty and stuff like that, there’s been kind of jagged-edged comments about it.

“But the way I saw it was, if I was invited nicely by those people to do things, the least I could do is respond nicely.

“It’s the way I was brought up – you give a lady the seat on a bus – so I responded nicely to an offer that was given nicely.”

Connolly said he wishes his late sister and his parents were alive to see him knighted.

“I wish my sister was here,” he said. “My sister Flo died last year and she would have loved that, and my parents are both dead, so I wish they were here to see it.

“Apart from that, I’m not big on pride but I’m kind of whatever the equivalent of pride is. This is a bit decent – I’ve got that.”