The Big Yin returns with the big one - Billy Connolly announces massive 2012 arena/ concert hall UK tour

Posted: 9th November 2011

To sum up Billy Connolly as just a comedian is pretty insulting and demeaning - the man has been (and will be) far more than just a comic who stands on stage and splits audiences and their sides on a regular basis. To quote a line from his blog-page, 'You pass this way but once. There's no such thing as normal. There's you and there's the rest. There's now and there's forever. Do as you damn well please or you could end up being a pot-bellied, hairless boring fart.' He's certainly practiced what he's preached so far.

To begin with, he started life as a shipbuilder during the '60s but ditched his metal-working skills to jump into light-hearted folk-music, aka a band called The Humblebums. He spent a few years as partner to the late and lamented singer, Gerry Rafferty, before taking the plunge to go it alone as a stand-up comedian and promoting the innocent lure of being "In the Brownies" and extolling the virtues of "D.I.V.O.R.C.E." - not forgetting the adornment of Wellington boots in the wet ("The Welly Boot Song").

Later years have seen him appear in numerous films, TV shows, his own series of successful travel-documentaries, presented from his beloved easy-rider, his most recent being "Route 66", he married well-known writer and actress Pamela Stephenson some twenty years ago and even appeared on a Mike Oldfield album. He even shaved off his trademark beard for charity in the late '80s, before allowing it to reappear and painting it purple! So you see, he's had a colourful life and is a natural show-off (resorting to riding his aforementioned chopper with, er, his chopper out at the end of the series' credits, as you do).

For 2012, Billy Connolly will be returning to his stand-up roots with a full and fairly expansive UK tour, his first for many years. His trademark 'f**k'-littered repartee is unlikely to ruffle as many feathers this time around, but back in the '70s, Connolly sailed close to the wind with his liberal dose of expletives, yet still remains one of those rare comedians who can get away with swearing in front of your granny - he makes it all sound so poetic and justified. He is VERY funny, after all.

First stop on the tour is Leicester on 15th January, followed by Sheffield, Newcastle, Scarborough and many more up and down the country until Brighton on 15th and 16th March. Most of the venues will stage two Connolly nights and we will have tickets from 9am on Friday morning.

Although these are just England and Wales shows, you have to remember that Billy Connolly did play Ireland and Scotland a few years back and, apart from a multi-night residency at Hammersmith's Apollo in 2010, hasn't been seen south of the border for a very long time.

Paul Pledger