Billy Connolly 'struggling to recognise friends' as he battles Parkinson's disease

Billy Connolly 'struggling to recognise friends' as he battles Parkinson's disease

MICHAEL PARKINSON has revealed that his longtime friend Billy Connolly no longer recognises him as Parkinson's disease takes hold of the legendary Scottish comedian.

72-year-old Connolly has been battling the disease since his diagnosis in 2013.

Speaking to chef James Martin on his Saturday Morning show, TV host and longtime friend of Connolly’s Michael Parkinson described a recent meeting with the man fondly known as ‘The Big Yin’.

Parkinson was in New York to present Connolly with an award, and they went for dinner together that evening.

Speaking to James Martin, he said: “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 award ceremony. We had an awkward dinner together, because I wasn’t quite sure if he knew who I was or not. We were walking out after the presentation to go and have our picture taken and he turned to me and he put his hands on my shoulders and he said to me ‘how long have we known each other?”

He added: “To know someone as long as I knew and loved Billy…It was an awful thing to contemplate, that that had been taken from him in a sense.

“He was just a genius and the best thing that happened to me on the show.”

Connolly was also diagnosed with prostate cancer and deafness in 2013.

He last appeared on Parkinson’s popular chat show in 2010 before it finished but the comic made numerous appearances between the years of 1971 and 2004.

Here's a little throwback to one of his earlier appearances.