'Hairy rebel' pleased to be Sir Billy Connolly

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Scottish comedian Billy Connolly said he was “pleased and a little embarrassed” to get a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

The 74-year-old Glaswegian said he did not know much about what it would mean.

The star told BBC Scotland: “It won’t really dawn on me until Glasgow people start calling me ‘Sir Billy’ or whatever they come up with.”

He said it felt strange to be welcomed into the establishment as he still thought of himself as a “hairy rebel”.

Tennis coach Judy Murray, pop star Emeli Sande and Harry Potter author JK Rowling are among other well-known faces in Scotland to have received awards.

Sir Billy worked in Glasgow’s shipyards and played banjo in folk bands before branching out into comedy in the early 1970s.

His appearances on the Michael Parkinson show made him one of the UK’s top stand-up comedians.

But he is also an accomplished actor, winning praise for his role opposite Dame Judi Dench in Mrs Brown in 1997, as well as The Man Who Sued God and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

In recent years he has done numerous travel programmes.

In 2013 he disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and prostate cancer on the same day.

However, he has since been given the all-clear from the cancer but admits that the Parkinson’s is “a pain in the arse”.

Last week, a BBC Scotland documentary celebrating his 75th year unveiled three huge murals on the walls of buildings in his home city.

On his knighthood, he said: “I have an ordinary background and it was never on the horizon when I was growing up that I might get this.”

He said his sister Flo, who died last year, would have loved him getting the honour and he wished his parents had been around to see it.

“I’m not big on pride but whatever the equivalent of pride is that is a bit decent, I’ve got that,” he said.

“I’m a little embarrassed but deep within me I’m very pleased.”

The comedian and actor, who was made a CBE in 2003, said he was not sure if “Sir Billy” was impressive enough.

“I feel as if I should be called Lancelot or something,” he said.

“Sir Lancelot would be nice. Sir Billy does not have the same ring.

“I don’t know if you get invited to the Round Table. I don’t know anything about it.”

Mixed reaction

He said the knighthood would not change him.

“It may change the way other people think of me,” he said.

“But it won’t change me at all. I’m too late to change.”

Sir Billy said he felt comfortable accepting the honour, despite there being a mixed reaction in the past when he had been involved with the Royal family.

He said: “It always feels strange to be welcomed into the establishment. It is not a place I relish.

“Over the years, any time I’ve been associated with Royalty or anything like that it’s been kind of jagged edged comments about it.

“But the way I saw it was if I was invited by those people to do things, the least I can do is respond nicely. It’s the way I was brought up.

“It’s an honour and I’ll accept it honourably.”

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