Billy Connolly 'could have had Parkinson's for a decade'

Updated: 2014-08-23 07:45

By Anita Singh(China Daily)

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Billy Connolly suffered from Parkinson's disease for 10 years before his diagnosis, his wife has claimed, and the condition is developing so slowly that he is unlikely to suffer major symptoms.

Connolly, 71, discovered in the course of one day last year that he had prostate cancer and Parkinson's.

His wife, the actress and psychologist Pamela Stephenson, said she had noticed his hand shaking - a sign of Parkinson's disease - a decade ago but thought little of it.

"He's been ill and it was a huge shock to him - you know, for somebody who's been healthy his whole life to suddenly hear he has two major problems in a week," Stephenson said.

"But, thank God, his Parkinson's is so mild he will never really have the kind of symptoms that many people associate with Parkinson's, as far as we know.

"One is never sure about the course but he's doing incredibly well, there's no problem with his memory or anything like that. He doesn't need Parkinson's medication, it's too mild for that."

Speaking on Richard Bacon's BBC Radio 5 Live show, Stephenson said: "I haven't noticed his hand shaking for many, many years now. I used to think he was playing the banjo a bit too much."

Connolly chose a banjo as his luxury item on Desert Island Discs.

Stephenson added: "Billy's one of these people who doesn't like going to the doctor so of course he was going to hear some bad news when he went after a while.

"But he's his curmudgeonly, loveable self and dealt with it the way that you would imagine he'd deal with it.

"He's had an operation for his cancer and is doing really well; he had a check-up recently and he's fine."

Connolly told earlier this year how he had been fitted with hearing aids one Monday, given pills for heartburn on Tuesday, and on Wednesday learned that he had both cancer and Parkinson's.