Billy Connolly vows to keep working after Parkinson's diagnosis

Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly Photo: Luke MacGregor/PA Wire

Billy Connolly has insisted he will continue working after being diagnosed with prostate cancer and the "early symptoms" of Parkinson's Disease.

The Glaswegian comedian and actor has already undergone minor surgery in America, which his spokeswoman described as being a "total success".

Connolly has not been deterred and plans to act in an upcoming TV series and embark on a theatrical tour of New Zealand, she said.

ITV News reporter Ben Chapman has more:

A statement from Connolly's spokeswoman said:

Billy Connolly recently underwent minor surgery in America after being diagnosed with the very early stages of prostate cancer. The operation was a total success, and Billy is fully recovered.

In addition, Billy has been assessed as having the initial symptoms of Parkinson's disease, for which he is receiving the appropriate treatment.

Billy has been assured by experts that the findings will in no way inhibit or affect his ability to work, and he will start filming a TV series in the near future, as well as undertaking an extensive theatrical tour of New Zealand in the new year.

Billy Connolly and his wife Pamela Stephenson
Billy Connolly and his wife Pamela Stephenson Credit: Andy Butterton/PA Wire

Fans of the 70-year-old performer have rallied around him, including the rock star Sir Bob Geldof.

Sir Bob told Channel 5 News: "He’s as strong as an ox mentally from everything he’s been through as a kid. So I don’t think this will deter him from being that individual that we know.”

Watch: Geldof says Billy Connolly is 'as strong as an ox'

Billy Connolly holding a guitar made of bread, at a festival, circa 1975 Credit: Anwar Hussein/EMPICS Entertainment

Connolly was born in Glasgow in 1942. After leaving school he worked in the shipyards and later joined the Territorial Army.

He learned how to play the banjo and joined a band called the Humblebums, which featured Gerry Rafferty, who later recorded the song Baker Street. Connolly became known for telling jokes between the songs, laying the foundations for a career as a full-time comedian.

As well as comedy, he has also turned his hand to acting with roles in The Last Samurai and the forthcoming film The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

Connolly is also known for his charity work with frequent appearances on Comic Relief - including one year when he streaked through central London.

Read: Billy Connolly: From shipyards to Hollywood

He is one of around 127,000 Britons with Parkinson's, which is caused by a loss of brain cells that produce a chemical messenger called dopamine.

Symptoms differ from case to case but often include a tremor or fine shake while the person is at rest, rigidity of muscles, slowness of movement, unsteady balance and memory loss.

Earlier in the year, Connolly admitted he had started to forget his lines during performances.

Speaking about it, he said: "This is f****** terrifying. I feel like I'm going out of my mind."