Sir Billy Connolly: our new Honorary Doctor

Interior of the Barony Hall

We’re delighted to welcome Sir Billy Connolly to the Strathclyde community as an Honorary Doctor of the University.

Our award to him is a recognition of his status as one of Glasgow’s most internationally renowned citizens. He was born in Anderston, on the banks of the Clyde, and worked as a welder in the river’s shipyards before his career in comedy took off.

He started performing as a folk musician in the 1960s and his comedy act grew out of his musical performances. By the mid-1970s, he was established as one of the UK’s leading comedians and has maintained this status ever since, as well as making several successful ventures into dramatic action, notably his acclaimed performance in the 1997 film Mrs Brown.

Here are some things you may not know about Sir William Connolly CBE:

  • as a musician, he was one half of the Humblebums, a duo he formed with the late Gerry Rafferty, who went on to write and sing songs including Stuck in the Middle With You, Baker Street and Night Owl
  • he is said to hold the record for guesting on Sir Michael Parkinson’s chat shows, with 15 appearances over more than 30 years
  • his 1985 stand-up TV performance, An Audience With Billy Connolly, was filmed before a celebrity-filled audience which included Ringo Starr, Joanna Lumley, Bob Hoskins, Dame Julie Walters and Denis Law. It was repeated many times in subsequent years
  • he appeared in a 2000 episode of detective series Columbo, Murder With Too Many Notes, as a composer of film scores – who turns out to be the killer
  • he released a series of live albums in the 1970s, mainly recorded at venues in and around Glasgow. One, Atlantic Bridge from 1976, was recorded at Carnegie Hall, New York and Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline.

And here are some of his best jokes:

  • I've always wanted to go to Switzerland to see what the army does with those wee red knives
  • Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cosy…doesn't try it on
  • Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that who cares? He's a mile away and you've got his shoes
  • There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter
  • There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing.