'Daft old fart': Connolly hits back at claims about health
SIR Billy Connolly has strongly denied reports his deteriorating health has left him incapable of recognising close friends.
TV host Sir Michael Parkinson, 83, told an interviewer over the weekend that the Scottish comedian had barely recognised him when they'd last caught up during an "awkward dinner".
"The sadness of Billy now is that wonderful brain is dulled. I saw him recently - he's now living in America - and it was very sad, because I was presenting him with a prize at an awards ceremony," Parkinson said on Saturday with James Martin.
"We had an awkward dinner together because I wasn't quite sure if he knew who I was or not. But we were walking out after the presentation to go down and have our picture taken, and he turned to me and put his hand on my shoulders."
However, Connolly has firmly dismissed the claim, declaring: "I would recognise Parky if he was standing behind me - in a diving suit."
Connolly, 75, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease after having surgery for prostate cancer, and went public with the news in 2013.
The disease affects the brain and symptoms include involuntary shaking, stiff muscles and slow movement as well as memory problems and balance issues.
His comments were supported in a statement from production company Indigo Television, that is currently working with Connolly on a series where he tours around Scotland.
It read: "We have been busy filming with Billy over the summer and can report happily that he's on top form - as sharp and hilarious as ever. We were speaking with his wife Pamela Stephenson only today and she is pretty sure that Billy has no more problem recognising old friends than anyone else of his age who has lived abroad for years."
Last year, Connolly was knighted for his services to entertainment as well as his charity work, which in recent years has involved raising awareness for Parkinson's disease.
At the time, he said: "When I'm in front of people and performing, I don't give it much attention … and I perform despite it.
"There's a whole lot of shaking going on. It's kind of weird, this instability. The only time it stops is when I'm in bed and then I can't roll over. I'm like a big log.
"It's the first thing I think about in the morning because getting out of bed is quite hard."
Connolly also previously talked about the diagnosis in a British documentary, where he recalled the "rotten" way he found out there was no cure.
"The doctor said to me, 'You realise this isn't curable?' and I thought 'What a rotten thing to say to somebody'," he said.
"I always thought he should have said, 'You realise we are yet to find a cure?' to put a little light at the end of the tunnel. There's a lot to be said for that."