Birthday: 24th November
Billy Connolly is a Scottish actor, retired comedian, artist, writer, musician, and presenter. He is sometimes known, especially in his homeland, by the Scots nickname the Big Yin ("the Big One"). Known for his idiosyncratic and often improvised observational comedy, frequently including strong language, Connolly has topped many UK polls as the greatest stand-up comedian of all time.
Connolly's trade, in the early 1960s, was that of a welder (specifically a boilermaker) in the Glasgow shipyards, but he gave it up towards the end of the decade to pursue a career as a folk singer. He first sang in the folk rock band The Humblebums with Gerry Rafferty and Tam Harvey, with whom he stayed until 1974, before beginning singing as a solo artist. In the early 1970s, Connolly made the transition from folk singer with a comedic persona to fully-fledged comedian, for which he is now best known. In 1972, he made his theatrical debut, at the Cottage Theatre in Cumbernauld, with a revue called Connolly's Glasgow Flourish. He also played the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In 1972, Connolly's first solo album, Billy Connolly Live!, was produced, with a mixture of comedic songs and short monologues. In 1975 he topped the UK Singles Chart with "D.I.V.O.R.C.E."
As an actor, Connolly has appeared in various films, including Pocahontas (1995), Muppet Treasure Island (1996), Mrs Brown (1997) (for which he was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role), Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), Brave (2012), and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).
Connolly announced his retirement from comedy in 2018, and in recent years he has established himself as an artist. In 2020, he unveiled the fifth release from his Born On A Rainy Day collection in London, followed by another installment later that year. During the filming of the ITV documentary Billy Connolly: It's Been a Pleasure, he described how art had given him "a new lease of life".
BAFTA AWARD NOMINATIONS: 2
1999 - Best TV Entertainment Performance - 30 YEARS OF BILLY CONNOLLY
1998 - Best Leading Actor - MRS. BROWN
How do you rate Billy Connolly's films?...
WATCH BILLY CONNOLLY THIS WEEK...
FILM: Mrs. Brown (1997) / FILM: Quartet (2012)
Thursday 24th November, BBC4, 9:00pm / 10:40pm
Mrs. Brown (1997)
Historical drama starring Judi Dench and Actor of the Week, Billy Connolly. Queen Victoria's staff are concerned about her prolonged period of mourning following the death of Prince Albert. They summon servant John Brown, a favourite riding companion of her late husband, to help lift her depression.
Comedy drama based on Ronald Harwood's play, directed by Dustin Hoffman and starring Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay and Actor of the Week, Billy Connolly. At the Beecham House retirement home for opera singers, the occasion of Verdi's birthday is always marked by a special fundraising concert. But this year the arrival of one particular grande dame throws preparations into chaos as egos clash and old resentments surface.
Billy Connolly Double Bill: A Scot in the Arctic / Made in Scotland
Wednesday 23rd November, BBC4, 8:15pm / 9:00pm
A Scot in the Arctic
The comic heads for the North Pole, braving sub-zero temperatures and dealing with a persistent film crew to experience life in Canada's far North West. His only other company are the inquisitive polar bears who occasionally pay him a visit. First shown in 1995.
Made in Scotland
First in a two-part documentary following the acclaimed comedian, actor and musician, as he returns to the country of his birth and reveals the influences and motivations that helped him move on from being a welder in Glasgow to become `The Big Yin". The programme features deeply personal interviews with Billy himself, alongside contributions from some of the greatest names in comedy and popular culture, who talk about Connolly's lasting influence
ON NETFLIX & AMAZON PRIME...
FILM: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
Connolly appears as a dwarf in the third of the Hobbit movies.
Euan (Age 12) - ★★★★
"The films as usual are different but good. In my opinion, watch the films first."
Read our reviews HERE
FILM: Brave (2012)
Connolly voices King Fergus in Pixar's Scottish adventure movie.
Make sure you are booked in for this week's DRAMA CLASSES
Mix Up Theatre provide drama classes Online for anyone aged 12-18 (can be based anywhere!)
and in-person drama classes for ages 3-18 throughout Scotland.