This here, is not going to be some review of a show, per se, the show in question being Billy Connolly: Scot in the Arctic (Dave, Wednesday, 10 December, 10.40pm), but rather, a thank-you to the Dave folks for repeating all the shows which saw The Big Yin travelling the world and generally being a really nice guy. Like Stephen Fry when he scooted off around the United States of America, this show was an exercise in showing us far flung places with a cool, affable guy showing us the way… and like the Fry around America show, I’d be happy watching a film of Connolly merely going about his daily business.
I watched the various Billy Connolly shows on the BBC when they first aired and, apart from the occasional stand-up spot, it was my first contact with the great man. On stage, he’s abrasive and potty-mouthed (two of my favourite things in a performer), but under all that is a really interested and curious guy (another two of my most favourite things). So whoever decided to send Billy off to the Arctic, or Australia and New Zealand, hell, even trekking around Britain and that great bloody bike of his… really should be commended.
Last night, I saw Billy in minus 50 degrees Celsius… camping. Instead of hamming it up and complaining about the cold, Bill got decked out in seal skins, pulled out his banjo and did a cracking rendition of ‘Get It On’ by T Rex. You can’t imagine Sean Lock doing that can you?
In all these repeats, I loved reassessing Connolly. I used to love him and now I adore him. His stand-up segments on these old shows are still as sharp as ever, even though his clothes leave much to be desired at times. However, these programmes show just how Connolly is more than some stand-up fella. With each passing year, he grows in my affections… like he’s The Beatles of comedy or something. The Big Yin occupies that space in my mind that few can penetrate… along with Bill Hicks, Doug Stanhope, Lenny Bruce, Monty Python, Peter Cook, Chris Morris and The Goons… he’s royalty!
With these repeats, he only gets better… yet still, I’d love a pint with him. The rest of my list of Comic Royalty can go whistle… they’d be no fun down the pub… but Billy would engage you with some folk tales before making you spray beer outta your nose with some toilet humour. Last night, I watched him talking about solitude and loneliness quite poetically, before he bolted out of his tent stark bollock naked in the freezing tundra. Just about sums him up perfectly. I think the BBC need to give him another travel show.