Billy Connolly talks about growing old in resurfaced footage from 80s BBC show

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Just 42 at the time, the Big Yin said:‘I want to be old with grandchildren all round me, I’ll be sitting their half-drunk telling lies... I’d like long white hair’

Back in 1984, Billy Connolly appeared on an episode of the old BBC Question Time-adjacent show ‘Open to Question’ - in which he spoke about how he would like to grow old at the age of just 42, after he was grilled about making Glasgow look bad by the audience.

The ‘Open to Question’ show was very similar to the Question Time format in concept - running from 1984 to 1992 - the current affairs programme allowed Scottish teenagers of the day to ask celebrities questions in a panel format.

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The resurfaced clips show the audience of around 80 schoolchildren bombarding the Big Yin with tricky questions - pre-coached by the show’s producers on how to ask difficult questions. Connolly laughed off pointed questions and turned the show into an impromptu comedy set - in classic Billy fashion.

The clip ends showing Billy talking about growing old - getting pretty spot-on with some of his estimations, take a look at the clip below alongside a transcript of some of our favourite Big Yin responses.

Do you feel you’re treated differently by the English because of your Scottish nationality?

“If you’re going to depend on your Scottish Nationality to get you along, you are in deep trouble. You know I don’t have it on my passport, occupation: Scottish personality.

“I’m a comedian, and a good one, and that’s what keeps me going. You have to say you’re good, like a boxer, you have to say ‘I’m good, I’m good’ because that’s what gets your legs onto the stage.

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“Sometimes I’m not so good, but my Scottishness doesn’t keep me alive, it doesn’t buy my breakfast I can assure you.

“For some people it does, you know there have been sort of Scottish och-aye merchants and you only see them on Hogmanay programmes on television, and I’ve always wondered what they do the rest of the time.

“You know they do Burns Nights, but how many Burns nights can you do? In July!?”

Why do you portray Glaswegians as ignorant, bigoted morons?

“Do I?”

I think you do

“I think it’s because I’m an ignorant bigoted moron. I think I’m very limited when it comes to accents because this is the only one I’ve got really, when I find a better one I’ll use that.

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“Until that time comes I’m stuck with this one, and I’m hairy and I look quite formidable sometimes, you know I’ve got funny eyes and so when it comes to casting me in a dramatic role, they’re not going to give me a cooking programme. They’re going to make me a moron with greasy hair.”

“And I love doing it, I love aping that moron, somebody has to play the moron and I love doing it, I think it’s such fun playing bigoted morons. They’re so colourful bigoted morons.”

When you first started out did you intend to give such a bad view of Glasgow and Glaswegians?

“I don’t think I do you see, I don’t think I give such a terribly bad view.”

“This is a thing I continually find when I come to Scotland, I’m always on the defensive, what have I done to you? What are you all greetin’ about? Could you give me an example?”

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But don’t you think that people in other parts of Britain think that Glasgow is a terrible, hideous place, and if they do come here they’re going to get mugged?

“Listen, I am 42 years of age. The reputation went a bit beyond that. It was there before I was born.”

A panel member butts in: ‘But you have perpetuated it.’

“Who asked you? No I’m a wee bit tired of being on the defensive.

“I have done lots of things, I have sung songs, I’ve played my banjo, I’ve told funny storys about all sorts of subjects but you’ve all honed in on this giving Glasgow a bad name.”

If you’d been brought up in any city other than Glasgow do you think your humour would be different?

“I think it would be, but I think Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle, Belfast, and to a degree the east side of London, all have a very similar sense of humour.

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“Well they had anyway, I think all the senses of humour are merging because of the way you receive entertainment now like television and records mainly

“Throughout the world there’s a great sameness in comedians and I think it’s a bit of a shame but you can’t escape from it it’s just got to be that way, the way entertainment’s gone to the masses.”

I dread to think what you’ll be like when you’re 100

“I’m dying to be 100, even when I was a wee boy I wanted to be old having done something. There’s nothing worse than being old and having missed the boat. You’re going to die and nobody knows you were there.

“I want to be old and sit on a veranda with my banjo with grandchildren all round me, I’ll be sitting their half-drunk telling lies.

“Yeah I’ll be a really boring old guy. I’d like long white hair.”

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