Comedian Connolly given freedom of Glasgow

21st August 2010, Comments 0 comments

British comedian Billy Connolly was looking forward Saturday to exercising his new rights to graze animals in the middle of Glasgow after he was awarded the freedom of his native city.

The 67-year-old, whose popularity has spread as far as Australia, is one of Britain's best-loved stand-up comics.

His new honour brings with it various antiquated privileges and duties, including the right to fish in the River Clyde and graze livestock on common land.

"I am completely blown away. I am thrilled," Connolly said.

"Apparently I have to defend Glasgow if called to, which I am perfectly prepared to do.

"But if I commit a crime and am flung in jail, I am entitled to a cell of my own, which I would like more than anything."

Glasgow's Lord Provost Bob Winter said: "Billy Connolly is arguably the world's best-known Glaswegian and is truly deserving of the freedom of the city.

"He has shown the world the unique humour, generosity and resilience of Glaswegians."

Other freemen of Scotland's biggest city -- including former South African president Nelson Mandela, Manchester United Football Club manager Alex Ferguson and former Liverpool and Celtic soccer star Kenny Dalglish -- paid tribute to Connolly.

"I am still looking forward to grazing my sheep on Glasgow Green and am still waiting to hang up my washing in George Square," Dalglish said.

Connolly, who is married to the Australian comedian turned psychologist Pamela Stephenson, started out as a welder in the Glasgow shipyards before moving into folk music.

He has performed stand-up for more than 30 years and has acted in numerous films and television series.

His performance as queen Victoria's servant John Brown opposite Oscar-winner Judi Dench in the film "Mrs. Brown" (1997) was widely acclaimed.

His 1975 spoof cover of the Tammy Wynette song "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" knocked David Bowie's "Space Oddity" off the top of the British charts and was only superseded by Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody".

© 2010 AFP

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