Engage: Sir Billy Connolly reveals effect Parkinson’s disease has had on his marriage
Sir Billy Connolly has said he no longer shares a bed with his wife because his Parkinson’s disease causes him to punch her in his sleep.
The comedian, 76, was diagnosed with the incurable disease in 2013 and announced his retirement from live performance five years later.
Sir Billy, who is cared for by his second wife Pamela Stephenson, 69 – with whom he shares three children, said he struggles with simple tasks including putting money away in his wallet.
He told the PA new agency: “It’s like living with another guy, it’s weird. My wife sleeps away from me because I punch her in the night.
“I recently went fishing in Utah with my son, and he said I was laughing and singing in my sleep. But the next night, I was fighting again – ‘Argh, ya bastard’.
“I have to choose where I sleep and who I sleep with very carefully.”
He added: “I’m OK today. I have bad days when I shake a lot and I can’t put my money in my wallet.
“I know it’s going to get worse, but I’ll take it as it comes.”
Across a six-decade career, Sir Billy, known affectionately as Big Yin, was known for his energetic stage presence.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include decreased mobility and difficulty speaking, leaving him unable to perform as he did in his pomp.
The veteran comedian also said he finds it “dead easy” to laugh about his illness.
Since his diagnosis, he has integrated the illness into his act, calling out the “symptom spotters”, and entering the stage to Jerry Lee Lewis’s Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.
However, Sir Billy is not currently performing and has no plans to return to the stage.
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