‘Billy Connolly: In His Own Words’ was broadcast last night at 9pm on Channel 5. The programme draws on a number of interviews, television appearances and performances from the stand up’s five decade career and chart’s his journey from maternal abandonment to the glitz of international show business. The show documents the brutality of Sir Billy’s school days in Glasgow, his years as an apprentice welder in the Clydeside shipyards and his rise to become the UK’s most successful comedian.
Mr Connolly has gone on to appear in dozens of films, sell millions of records and tour the world with his comedy.
Yet the comedian has always performed a unique brand of edgy comedy and even burst onto the scene in 1975 after telling an outrageous joke on Parkinson.
In turn he has long been a proponent of free speech and has expressed a deep dislike for political correctness on countless occasions in recent years.
One such occasion was in Mr Connolly’s 2018 book ‘Tell Tales and Wee Stories’, in which he described political correctness as the enemy of artistic freedom.
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Sir Billy wrote: “I’m not sorry for anything I said on the stage.
“It felt right at the time.”
He added: “Frank Zappa was correct when he said ‘Political correctness is the language of cowardice.
“It’s the fear of confronting things.
He also called upon television executives, whom he referred to as “suits” to be braver, in what comedy they allow onto TV.
Sir Billy explained: “I couldn’t have started today.
“Because of political correctness people have pulled in the horns.
“I couldn’t have started today with the talent I had then.”
The “fearless” material Sir Billy performed in the Seventies propelled him to superstardom while also maintaining his reputation as an alternative comedian.
He added: “There’s a show here in America with all black comedians, men and women, and they are totally ruthless, they are totally without political correctness and they have always got me on the floor howling with laughter.
“There was a comedian who had a series on television and the suits involved were going to take it off at the first commercial break.
“They have got no bravery.”
‘Tell Tales and Wee Stories’ was written by Sir Billy Connolly and published by Two Roads. You can find it here.