Sir Billy Connolly will receive this year’s Bafta’s Fellowship on Sunday, crowning the Scottish comedian with one of Britain’s most prestigious entertainment awards.
Speaking to Bafta about winning the award, Connolly – or the Big Yin, as he is affectionately known – explained such accolades were never his intention.
“I have a collection of shiny things that I’m very proud of. But I never set out to get them or hunt them down. I don’t believe in aiming at it because if you don’t get it for whatever reason you’re all disappointed. Just do what you do well and you’ll find yourself a fellow before you know it.”
Connolly was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013 and retired from performing five years later. In 2017, he was knighted. He now joins a prestigious list in winning the Bafta fellowship, alongside the likes of Sir David Attenborough, Dame Julie Walters, Sir Trevor McDonald, Dame Joanna Lumley, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Jon Snow, Sir Bruce Forsyth and Dame Joan Bakewell.
Born in Glasgow in 1942, Connolly began working as a welder in the Clyde’s shipyards as a teenager. He left to pursue a career in folk music, before establishing himself as the comedian and actor he is now best known as.
Sir Billy lives in the United States and will not be able to attend the ceremony, taking place on Sunday, in person.
“It’s really important to work, to draw, to write, to walk silly for your grandchildren,” he told Bafta, in his virtual acceptance speech. “Doing the same thing you’ve always done is good for you. I don’t let Parkinson’s dictate who I am – I just get on with it. I’ve had a very successful career and I have no regrets at all.”
Emma Baehr, Executive Director of Awards and Content, said: “We’re honoured to be awarding Sir Billy Connolly with the 2022 BAFTA Fellowship Award. He has made a remarkable contribution to our industry from his first appearance on Parkinson in 1975, through to becoming a national treasure on stage and screen, adored by fans around the world. BAFTA is looking forward to celebrating this award with Sir Billy in due course and thanking him again for his phenomenal career in television.”