Frail-looking Billy Connolly moved viewers to tears with an emotional appeal on Comic Relief.
The Scottish comedian was presenting a video about the need to help those suffering from dementia. And while Billy’s speech was noticeably slower, he still had his sense of humour and glint in his eye.
“Hello, it’s Billy Connolly here, asking you for cash,” he said. “Not for me obviously. I’ve got cancer and Parkinson’s and definitely need a haircut, but no.” He then introduced video footage of Bob, a pensioner whose wife had dementia.
Billy began trending on Twitter as viewers were struck by his appearance. “If you are like me you probably grew up with Billy Connolly,” wrote one fan. “His courage and dignity is remarkable and very moving. #comicrelief #give.”
“Fragile Billy Connolly makes my heart drop to my knees,” wrote another. “Such a volcanic force of nature. Such a giant. #comicrelief.”
TV presenter Dan Walker also tweeted: “There are very few people who can make you laugh & cry at the same time. Billy Connolly is a rare diamond.”
Billy, 74, also joked that if viewers hadn’t watched Comic Relief before, they wouldn’t know who he was. The video footage also included highlights of his 30 years with the charity, such as the time he danced around Piccadilly Circus while naked.
“God bless, I’ll be back later as if you don’t give a million pounds I’m gonna take my clothes off again and you wouldn’t like that,” he said.
He then added more seriously. “And then who knows? Maybe back on the show, maybe not. But I’m very proud of the stuff we’ve done together, thank you.”
One fan responded on Twitter: “Felt like a goodbye. Awfully sad.”
Last year, Billy told a US radio show that he’d had suicidal thoughts because of the struggle of coping Parkinson’s disease.
“Yeah sometimes I give it a bit of thought when I’m in bed,” he said. “I think, ‘Well this is forever, this isn’t going to get better, it’s going to get worse.
“But then I try and change my mind and I try to meditate and move away from it sideways.”
“The guy who told me I had it said to me, ‘You realise it’s incurable?’. I thought he could have said, ‘We have yet to find a cure’ or something like that to put a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.”