Billy Connolly celebrates his 75th birthday by sitting for three Scottish artists - John Byrne, Jack Vettriano and Rachel MacLean.
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Sensation seekers, welcome to the show.
For God's sake, take it easy. We've got an hour to go.
This programme contains some strong language
I'm back in Scotland, in my home town - Glasgow.
-Billy Connolly. Is it?
It's everything to me, it runs through my veins.
I love it.
I was brought up in Partick in Glasgow,
where Partick Thistle originally came from, the football team.
Partick Thistle FC.
I say that because most Englishmen
think they're called Partick Thistle Nil.
I'm turning 75 this year - I know, I cannae believe it either -
and I've come back for a birthday treat.
There's my old street.
'I'll be visiting some places that are very dear to me.'
Good old Glasgow.
'And I'll also be meeting three brilliant artists.'
Lovely to see you.
The hugely successful Jack Vettriano...
You dirty bugger.
..rising star Rachel Maclean...
I bet you used to get notes from school,
"Rachel has a fertile imagination."
..and my dear old friend John Byrne.
How great to see you.
It's wonderful to see you, Billy.
Each of them are going to make a birthday portrait for me.
I've been very patient so far. I think I'll have an episode.
I'll be suffering for their art.
-You just walloped me in the bollocks there.
And to top it off, Glasgow will give me
the biggest birthday present of my life.
I've never seen myself that size before.
Glasgow belangs to me.
Now, at this point, I'm going to explain my health issues to you.
It will save you symptom spotting.
I've got Parkinson's disease,
and I wish to fuck he'd kept it to himself,
but there you go.
I haven't lived in Glasgow for nearly 40 years,
but it's a place that will always be home.
In fact, I'm probably more famous for being a Glaswegian
than anything I've ever done.
Without Glasgow, I wouldn't exist as an entertainer.
That's all I did, was spoke about Glasgow
and how it felt to be, to come from Glasgow.
I'm very proud to be Glaswegian.
Big banana feet.
The place is almost unrecognisable now to the one I remember,
a dark old city of soot-covered tenements,
smoky bars and the bustling shipyards where I started out.
Shipyard toilets are something to behold.
There was no toilet seat, there was just a bar
that ran the length of the place.
You sort of hung your bum over it and swung on it, like that.
And there was no toilet bowl.
There was a sort of trough...
..that ran the length of the place, of constantly running water.
So if a guy at the end did a wee jobbie, it went...
While I was still working in the yards,
I formed a band with a guy called Tam Harvey.
We were called the Humblebums.
The Humblebums eventually became
me and the immensely talented Gerry Rafferty.
We used to get our album sleeves designed by a mutual friend
and the coolest man in Scotland, the artist John Byrne.
Gerry even wrote this song for him.
# Patrick, my primitive
# Painter of art
# You will always and ever be near to my heart... #
John is the first artist who's agreed to paint
a birthday portrait of me.
Well, I've just arrived in Edinburgh,
in Dundas Street at the Fine Art Society.
I'm about to meet John Byrne, the great artist.
He used to be a friend of mine, I hope he still is.
He should be.
Billy Connolly. How are you?
As I live and breathe.
I'm going out for a smoke.
Come to the door with me.
Do you still smoke Gold Flake?
'John is some man.'
As well as his extraordinary painting,
he has written one of Scotland's favourite plays, The Slab Boys,
and the TV drama Tutti Frutti.
'He wants to do some sketches to help him with my portrait,
'and it is brilliant to see him again.'
Hey, Billy! Get your hair cut!
"Get your hair cut," how dare you, sir!
-Do you know who I was?
And who you might be again.
Given half a chance.
So have you not thought of giving the smoking the elbow?
Oh, God, no! Oh, no.
-Will we go in?
Look at that.
How old is this one?
It was about five or six years ago, I think. As far as I can remember.
-And this was the original.
That's colossal, isn't it, in here?
The vegetation stuff there is brilliant.
Oh, I recognise the pose here.
A very, very, very ugly child.
-There's no such thing as an ugly child.
No, but that's a strikingly ugly child.
The ears are modelled on my father's ears.
He had the biggest ears on a human being I've ever seen.
-Like clabby dos.
John has already painted me a few times, back in the '70s.
Including this stunning portrait
that hangs in the People's Palace in Glasgow.
And once he even turned me into a walking work of art on live TV.
I must ask you about that suit.
I mean, what's a working-class lad like you doing in a suit like that?
Do you like it? It's a sort of substitute for tattoos.
I'm frightened to get a tattoo, you know.
'My friend John Byrne in Glasgow, he is an artist,
'he calls himself Patrick.
'He did it for me by hand.'
-It's beautiful, isn't it?
'I feel like a star. It's magic.'
The thing that always killed me about it
is that the flaps on the pockets,
if you lifted them up, it was identical underneath.
You had painted it twice.
-It was brilliant.
-I'd forgotten that as well.
'The pattern of the Glasgow streets is quite a very cruel...'
The media generally didn't employ people with accents like that.
They do now.
But then, they wouldn't.
'My best memory of Glasgow was standing...
'My childhood, I was with a pal of mine called Gerald McGee.'
We were doing a great Glasgow game called See Who Can Pee The Highest.
Up in the air.
And my father caught me.
And he slapped... I'll never forget.
He slapped me in the back of the head,
and my willy shot back into my trousers.
People say, "Why is he called the Big Yin?" or whatever.
And I says, "Because onstage he looks ten feet tall."
You just lit up the stage, everywhere you went.
I used to say that I behaved very tall.
You were just a phenomenon.
There was no doubt of where you were going to end up.
Look at you.
And you, too. You were exactly the same.
No, mine was a lower trajectory.
But you always had a kind of rock and roll image.
-Well, to me you did, anyway.
You created an atmosphere in your appearance
and your extraordinary talent.
It was a lovely thing.
-And you were the only painter I knew, so it was...
Nobody to compare me with at all.
So it's time to get to work.
Well, John does the work and I just get to sit here quietly.
Not my strong point, really.
So, we'll do a couple of wee drawings.
I know what you look like, for God's sake.
I know what your soul looks like.
So that's halfway there.
-That is lovely.
I've never seen you draw before.
How much time do you spend painting?
Every day, 14 hours.
If it's worth doing, it's worth doing until you collapse.
-I think so.
-I'm working harder now than I ever did.
I've been very patient so far.
I think I'll have an episode.
I think I'm entitled to an episode before the day is over.
I had a taxi driver once in Los Angeles who said,
"What do you do?"
I said, "I'm a comedian."
And he said, "I tell you what you do," he says,
"you get one of them Irish joke books,
"you learn them jokes." He says, "You can't go wrong."
-There you go.
-I said, "Thanks very much.
"You know something, that is why you are sitting at the front."
Away like the clappers.
I wonder who the clappers were.
I don't know.
Cynthia and Dolores Clappers.
Well, John, I guess that's it.
I can tell that's it, because I've got cramp in my bum.
Well, thank God, Billy, because I'm...
"Yeah, I've drawn some boring faces in my life."
'It is a long time since I've seen him face-to-face.
'I mean, he is exactly the same but slightly older.'
Goodbye, my friend.
God bless you.
'It was just like yesterday I'd seen him.
'Enjoyed it hugely.'
'I was just thinking there, what a job I've got.
'I mean, fly through to Edinburgh on a lovely day'
and meet your old pal
and spend the day talking to him and laughing.
'Does my heart good to spend days like that.
'He's an absolute genius, I think.'
I can't wait to see myself done by him.
It's time for me to meet the next artist
who's offered to immortalise me in canvas.
Jack's story is remarkable.
He used to be a mining engineer,
but has transformed himself
into one of Scotland's most successful artists.
His most popular painting, The Singing Butler,
is among the bestselling prints in the UK,
and his work changes hands for huge amounts.
Oh, there he is.
-Oh, nice to see you, man.
-I said, "I don't know what this guy looks like,
"I couldnae pick him out in a police line-up."
So it is lovely to meet you eventually.
You too. You too.
Come on in the kitchen and have a cup of tea.
Oh, what a great idea!
So, what gave you the idea to paint me?
Well, I've followed your career since Final,
and that first time on Parkinson.
You were so endearing.
And I think all of Scotland were right behind you,
you know, in the joke, you know, the bums thing...
Just, you know, astonishing.
I hope I can get away with this. It's a beauty.
"How is the wife?" He said, "Oh, she's dead."
I goes, "What?"
He says, "Dead. Out the game. Dead.
"I murdered her. I'll show you if you want."
I said, "Aye, show me." So we went away up to his tenement building,
through the close - that's the entrance to the tenement...
And sure enough there's a big mound of earth.
But there's a bum sticking out of it.
I says, "Is that her?"
He says, "Aye."
I said, "What did you leave her bum sticking out for?"
He says, "I need somewhere to park my bike."
When I finished that show,
I flew back to Glasgow
and I was coming through the airport
and the whole airport started to applaud.
And I thought, "Well, I think I've done something here."
I just wish I'd never looked back from that moment.
I do have an issue to bring up with you, Billy.
Methil Steel Club.
Methil Steelworks Club. Yes, I remember it well.
When the dog came in and shat in the middle of the floor.
It had obviously eaten something
that it wasn't breaking down too readily, you know?
The likes of maybe a billiard ball or a Coca-Cola bottle or something.
That's my home town.
And then, then...
Then I moved to Kirkcaldy, and you insulted that as well.
-The town you smell before you see.
That's right, what's that smell?
Kirkcaldy? Fabulous town.
Where they used to make linoleum.
Making linoleum is a kind of smelly thing.
They were going to change the name of Kirkcaldy
to What's That Fucking Smell?, because...
That is the first thing people said as they got off the train.
It's lovely you've come from a working-class background.
To step into the limelight, it is kind of weird, isn't it?
It's astonishing, Billy,
that I still get very sort of nervous
because I think, "I don't belong here.
"This isn't my patch."
You just expect that the foreman's going to come up behind you and say,
-"..your time is up."
-"Your tea's oot."
Well, I'm very proud to be painted by you.
Well, I'm very flattered to hear that.
I feel as if I should be standing on a beach with the tide going out.
-And a bowler hat on?
-Aye, and a butler and...
So this is your studio?
-I like a floral studio.
Were you a gardener when you were young?
Jack is famous for two contrasting styles.
Some of his stuff is glamorous and romantic
and some is, well, rather dark and kinky.
I always liked watching women dress.
You know how all the fantasies are about undressing?
-I used to like watching them dressing.
-Me too, Billy, me too.
I mean, is there anything nicer than watching a woman put her...
-a finely fashioned stocking on her toes?
And then, on the heel, the heel is reinforced.
Oh, Christ, I know too much about this.
You're a dirty bugger.
I mean, I don't do that.
But I was desperate to do it for many years.
You know, get into that...
bit of the old tiesy-upsy, the fucking gear on... You know.
But I don't last long enough to do any of those things.
Jack has promised me I won't have to get tied up
or wear suspenders for my portrait.
He works from photographs,
and he has chosen a shot of me from a TV series I did in the '90s,
my World Tour Of Scotland.
We're up quite near John O'Groats here...
in tropical Scotland.
This was the first sequence that I saw and I thought,
"I really do like this."
And that there, I think, is the image.
Slightly imbalanced, and that is what the painting will look like.
Yeah, that's great.
And that is corner to corner and it's very pleasing on the eye.
I think it's great. I think there's a sort of great dynamic
in that shot.
You look really majestic.
There is a lot of life in it, isn't there?
With the water going and the hair and the pointing and the...
Yeah. In a way, this is a sort of return to the beaches.
I feel very proud about that.
But this will be a wee bit of a challenge.
It's trying to let people see that that is actually surf.
I tell you the biggest challenge
is finding where to put the man with the umbrella.
Well, it's been great seeing you.
Oh, it's been lovely.
Especially finding out you were a Fifer, I didnae know that.
I think I could say fairly safely
that that is the highlight of my career to date.
It's been a real pleasure to meet you, and more than that,
it's been an inspiration, getting to paint your portrait.
Oh, thank you very much.
-Now, get on with it!
-See you later.
'Every dinner party I go to from now until the day I die,'
I'll say, "Oh, did I ever tell you when I met Billy Connolly?"
There is one more artist who has agreed to create
a birthday portrait of me.
I'm off to meet Rachel Maclean,
and she is a different kettle of fish altogether.
Now is the time.
Rachel is the most exciting new artist in Scotland.
She is part performer, part film-maker,
and creates works set in strange fantasy worlds.
I am well out of my comfort zone on this one.
Well, Rachel, I tried to Google you last night,
and it came up with a big picture
with you with screeds of make-up on,
like it had been laid on by a bricklayer.
That will be me, yeah.
And so it gave me no clue as to what you actually do.
So I make mostly video work,
but video where I'm the only actor,
or the only model, so it is quite synthetic sort of worlds.
Sounds OK to me.
I'm completely mystified.
This is a film I made,
a bit of a piss-take of various advertising formats.
And it is called Germs.
Is that you?
So I am all the characters.
'I've never seen anything like this before,'
and I am seriously starting to worry about what I've let myself in for.
Tastes pretty good, huh?
That is the last thing on Earth I expected.
-This is extraordinary.
I really like it. It's, eh...
I'm kind of stuck for something to say about it.
I think that this kind of art suffers from that.
From the inability of the observers to say what they are looking at.
So what are you going to do with me?
So we're going to be taking a photograph,
and, if you're all right with it,
we're going to be getting you done up in a kind of...
18th-century sort of tartan regalia.
I don't have to do blue vomit or anything?
Only if you want to.
This is the costume that you are going to be getting into, here.
So there is...
So it's kind of...
I don't know why I was thinking, like, Bonnie Prince Charlie-style...
-..tartan regalia, but with loads of references to your jokes.
There is a wee... a wee beige jobbie in a toilet.
-Oh, I love it.
-It's in a tiny toilet.
'British Rail specialises in that one.'
Into the toilet, lock the door, turn...
Oh, for Christ's sake.
There's a wee jobbie...
A wee beige jobbie.
You flush and flush with all your might...
My God, you've done your homework.
And this is a sporran, which is hair growing out your ears
-and your nose when you get old.
I love it.
'My nose hair is accelerating, for reasons best known to itself.'
I used to cut it once every 30 years,
now it's like twice a month.
Presuming the body knows what it's doing, I'm very baffled.
I wonder what's going to happen to me that's going to need
long nasal hair to deal with it.
And the big slipper, which I don't know if it would have been that big,
-but I thought...
-Oh, is that what that is?
Yeah, I was quite pleased with how that turned out.
-If it's that scale.
-When I did that big slipper stuff,
people started to send them to me.
You get these adverts for things that they obviously can't sell.
Have you seen the big slipper?
But it's one big slipper.
And you put your two feet in it.
We've also got... Can I grab the staff?
So this is the finger up the bum.
This is the staff.
'Doctors become obsessively interested in your prostate
'as soon as you turn 50.'
There are two ways in.
One is a camera through the hole in your willy.
Wonderful. Well done.
'The other way...'
finger up the bottom.
Oh, for fuck's sake.
But he's messing around in there.
We're in a different game now.
I'm about to be humiliated, and I love it.
It is ten times better than I thought it was going to be.
I was living in terror of having make-up splashed onto me.
I wasn't looking forward to it.
Rachel has other ideas, of course, and I've only got myself to blame.
She wants me in make-up because of another old routine.
So I was looking, just your joke about the pale blue Scotsman.
-Pale blue Scottish person.
-I always liked...
My dad would always reference...
when we went on summer holidays to the beach.
I tend to frighten people on the beach, because being Scottish,
I'm pale blue.
It takes me a week to get white, you know?
-That's really good.
-Oh, my God.
I bet you used to get notes from school,
"Rachel has a fertile imagination."
I used to get them, as if it was a failing.
"Billy has a fertile imagination.
"We'll knock that out of him."
I look like a complete alien.
I think that looks about sporran height.
Sporran height? Sounds like a German word, doesn't it?
Just getting ready to step out for the groceries.
Looking great. So, into the big slipper.
'I was always going to buy two.'
I was going to buy a pair.
And leave them in the fireplace.
If I'm going out at night, in case a burglar comes in.
"Who lives here, for Christ's sake?!"
So I can show you the kind of image that we're going for.
We're thinking the kind of Bonnie Prince Charlie type of...
-So, yeah, that's good.
Yeah, yeah. And maybe the legs a wee bit...
-Yeah, a wee bit jaunty.
Yeah, that looks good.
Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cosy,
doesn't try it on.
-You just walloped me in the bollocks there.
When I came up with the idea of the costume,
I was thinking about that stereotype of a certain kind of Scottishness.
Then this idea of Billy in a contemporary sense,
representing Scotland abroad.
I guess it's kind of come together into something
that is maybe at a glance traditional,
but when you look closer,
all the materials are kind of cheap and plasticky.
There's a feeling of a culture
that's inauthentic and is being reconsidered.
I'd maybe try shocked.
It's been astonishing.
It was great to take part in one of those post-modernist artworks.
And maybe just very serious, kind of...
Yeah, that's good, yeah.
I think we've got it.
Yeah. Thank you so much. That was great.
I've never quite done anything remotely like that before.
And the finger fell out of the bum.
What I'm going to do now is take the photos
and try and select which one will work best,
and then start thinking about the backgrounds.
So while Rachel, John and Jack get on with my portraits,
I thought I'd check out another artist in town.
A new kid on the block, as it were.
I am about to pay a visit to Scotland's greatest living artist...
..who bears a strange resemblance to me.
I had never really drawn before,
but I started doodling a few years ago
when I was bored in a hotel room,
and before I knew it, I had enough of them to fill a room.
I haven't seen them in such a long time,
they go on exhibitions without me.
I sound pathetic when I say that.
The first exhibition in Birmingham,
I thought there would be a lot of people going...
But it didn't happen. People liked it.
And I've been doing it kind of ever since.
I'm very proud of them.
It's all kind of random.
Same as the way I draw them, I don't set out to draw anything.
I didn't know it was Surreal Automatism
until I read it on the wall over there.
I feel terribly clever now that I'm a Surreal Automatist.
It takes ages to do, but it's kind of meditative.
You get carried away when you're doing it.
And I especially... I remember him at the time.
The Glaswegian Icarus.
It is lovely to see them again. They are like old pals.
It is especially nice they're in the People's Palace.
I've always loved this place.
I've had a long association with this gem of a building.
40-odd years ago, they asked me to open an exhibition here.
At the time I donated some bits and pieces for the collection,
and they have dug them out again.
It's strange being in a museum at all.
You feel duty bound to be dead.
You know? So... I have no intention of being dead.
So it is a kind of peculiar feeling.
Especially that guy up there,
I didn't remember that suit until I saw it today.
Glam rock was around.
It had three colours, they fitted much better than they fit him.
I spent a lot of time thinking about how I should look,
so I got more and more outrageous.
# Our little dog is six years old... #
'I tried everything on stage,
'from wearing my pyjamas to dressing like a sparkly sweetie.'
-Do you like it? AUDIENCE MEMBER:
Like a liquorice boilie, isn't it?
But it was these fruity booties that became my trademark.
That's an actual pair of wellies in there.
But it took the country by storm, I'm delighted to say.
They were very, very comfortable.
The only trouble I had with them,
I had to wear a leotard and tights with them,
and pulling the tights on, the hair on my legs all went the wrong way.
And it was kind of uncomfortable.
But I refused to shave my legs.
They made one and sent it up to be tried on,
and I tried it on, thought it was amazing, you know?
And I... I said, "Right, carry on with the other one."
So he phones up and says, "The other one is ready," he said,
"I must warn you," he said, "They're not identical,
"but then bananas never are."
I don't remember ever referencing them at all,
I just came on like that and carried on with my act.
I couldn't think of anything of any length to say about them.
So I just let them speak for themselves.
'You ever notice about the Glasgow drunk, he walks with one leg?'
And this is my portrait by John Byrne.
I was supposed to have this,
then he phoned me and said, "I've finished it," but he said,
"But it is too big for your house
"and the People's Palace want it, what do you think?"
And I said, "Great."
It's identical to how I looked then, as well.
It's an incredible likeness.
The great thing about being painted by John,
he paints great clothes on you. They don't exist.
He just painted them from his head.
This is astonishing.
Apparently the postcard sells quite well as well.
I've always loved this portrait since the first minute I saw it.
And I will soon have more to enjoy as well.
I just start, and it will just change or develop as I go along.
Because I want to be surprised at the end,
as opposed to having a finished image in my head.
Since he got...
..the onset of Parkinson's, he's very...
He sort of moves differently. You know, he was very...
..as you can imagine him onstage...
He would roam about the stage,
which he cannae do now.
I met Ian Holm, the actor, who suffers from it,
and he has had it longer than me.
And he says, "Do you shake much, your hands?"
And I said, "No, when I'm nervous or when I'm tired, it shakes a bit."
He said, "Oh, yeah. It probably will, yeah."
He said, "I'll give you a bit of advice.
"If it shakes, just stick it in your pocket."
He forgot to mention jacket pocket.
It's only a physical impediment.
He's very clear thinking and just as funny if not funnier than ever.
He seems slightly more thoughtful about everything,
as we all get to...
towards the end of this...
I haven't seen this for years.
There's a great...
a great sketch, if you like...
..called The Crucifixion.
The way The Last Supper really happened...
All the apostles were in there,
drinking wine and tearing lumps off the Mother's Pride.
Singing, shouting and bawling.
SHOUTING: We are the Christians!
Uh-oh, into these Romans!
Gie's another glass of that wine. Oh!
And The Crucifixion, I'm sure, was the first sketch that I ever heard,
you know, and I thought, "That is just amazing," you know?
So I said, "I think I'll have a kip on this dod of wood here."
So I lie down like that.
Woke up an hour later.
"Wait a minute!
"Some joker's been up and nailed me to the wood!
"Lying there in my Y-fronts like a right eejit."
There's quite a lot to whittle down,
but these ones are starting to get into something
a bit more kind of regal, which I quite like.
I think I'm going for something that's serious, serious expression
to kind of react against the silliness of the costume.
But I think there is a kind of responsibility
in representing Billy,
because he is so well known
and he's this kind of national treasure within Scotland.
It is bloody terrifying.
It really is.
If you look at what I am copying from,
you just can't see any detail,
so I have been working from that and from this.
Just to get where the studs are
and how the sort of flaps come over, you know?
Bit of a bonus that he's wearing gloves,
because I am no' very good at painting hands.
Billy was wearing a blue shirt with tiny little stars all over it.
He liked the shirt and I didnae particularly like the shirt,
so I am going to give him a black shirt.
This is where I spent my childhood.
So we're just looking at some archive footage
and possibly take some of this imagery so that it can be used,
but then mixed with newer imagery.
And these are the big badlands of Glasgow.
To get the images for the backgrounds,
I am going to go out and just try and take some photographs
of contemporary Glasgow.
I kind of want it to also have the feeling
of maybe the Glasgow of Billy's sort of early career too.
# I started work up in Partick
# But my workmates were acting gae queer... #
When I was a child, it was like a village, Partick.
As was Govan, Maryhill and the other Glasgow districts.
And there were always colourful people wandering about the place.
There are many, many small men in Partick.
In Partick, we used to call those little men "talking bunnets",
you know, because you looked down on the top of their head all the time
when they're talking.
There are many men in Partick who have the face of a policeman.
I used to describe it as a city baker's Halloween cake face.
# As a hulking big 6'2 brickie
# For heaven's sake, lay them dead quick. #
So I am now working on a Scottish sky, you know,
trying to make it quite sort of kind of stormy-looking.
This is the last step, the whole thing comes down here
and ends right here.
JOHN HUMS TUNE
I was on Billy's old street where he grew up, and took some photographs.
But then found this chip shop and kind of doorway,
which seems like quite a banal, quite a boring photograph,
but I thought it would be fun in the sense of how realistic and grimy
and banal it is in comparison to the costume,
so now it is just a case of cutting Billy out
to try and make the two images
feel like they're part of the same world.
Do you think he'll like it?
So I hear the artists have all been working hard on my portraits,
but I've been working away as well.
I'm over in the fair city of Dublin finishing some shows.
Well, this is the end of the tour.
I did two nights in Belfast and I've got three nights in Dublin.
And it's lovely. The High Horse Tour.
It's the biggest crowds I've ever played to
since I toured with Elton in the '70s.
We did Madison Square Garden and things like that.
My career has been like that since day one,
it's been growth all the way.
Right through, 50 years of growth.
It is remarkable, isn't it?
I don't know why.
Most careers are that shape, you know.
They just naturally tail off as you get older.
Mine has gone like that and kind of plateaued
and then up again like this at the end.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
I am easing towards this.
You'll find that most of the night I cling to this like a sailor...
clinging to a raft.
There's good reason for it, I'll tell you later.
But we'll get started.
'I've got a chair now.'
I don't sit on it, I haven't sat on it yet.
I've got this battle with this chair, I'm not sitting on you.
It's right behind me.
So I have a little personal vendetta with it,
that I'm not going to sit on it.
It is just one of those things, you know,
so I don't know how to handle it.
I just stand still and do it and people like it.
The strength's in the material.
Please, if you ever meet me and you want a selfie,
have your stuff ready.
Don't make me stand there as you go through your fucking bag,
looking for your camera.
Because it looks as if I asked you to do it, you know?
It actually helps me at the time.
I know before it, I tend to feel hellish.
When I come off, I don't feel all that brilliant,
but during it I love it.
I get a real buzz, a real boost of energy.
Then I come off, I'm much better than when I went on.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
MUSIC: Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On by Jerry Lee Lewis
I don't think it is a good enough reason to stop,
because you've reached a certain number.
I think I'll have plenty of reasons to stop as time goes by,
but until then, I'm OK.
As long as the stuff's going down well.
And I'll be able to spot it when it stops.
You know, with the slightest hint of it dipping,
I'll come out of there.
Out of the arena.
While I am in Dublin, someone's popped over to see me.
Rachel's here, and she has brought her finished portrait with her.
So this is the first time I've seen it framed,
so, yeah, it's really nice to see the finished piece.
It looks great, so I'm looking forward to seeing what Billy thinks.
It's been a good few months since we last met,
so what on Earth has she been up to since that strange photo shoot?
-Hello. How are you doing?
-Good to see you.
Nice to see you again.
-Hi, Rachel, lovely to see you.
-How have you been?
-I can't wait to see the thing.
Yeah, looking forward to seeing what you think of it.
Because I haven't a clue what it's going to be like.
-Will we go?
-Yeah, come through.
This better be good.
Oh, my God!
This morning I was lying in bed saying,
"I wonder what it looks like."
I was trying to get a picture in my mind and I couldn't.
Because I'd forgotten what...
I hadn't forgotten what I looked like,
I didn't know what I looked like on the day.
Yeah, of course, of course.
-You know, there was no mirrors or anything.
Yeah, we went through a few different expressions,
but I quite like the kind of serious middle-distance expression,
-I love that.
I think it's amazing. Well done.
-I love my sporran.
Oh, yeah, the hairy sporran came out quite well.
I had it in my mind that it was kind of female-looking, and it isn't.
No, no. It's got that kind of Bonnie Prince Charlie sort of pose.
But I quite wanted the background to be a bit kind of grubby
-and to feel like...
-..Glasgow at night.
I quite like the way the sausage
sort of complements the banana horns.
-FRENCH ACCENT: The "sausage".
I think they should make the Lord Provost dress like that.
-Yeah, that would be good.
-Yeah. I know.
A kind of national dress.
What a job Rachel's done on me.
Despite all the crazy gear I've worn over the years,
I don't think I've ever seen myself looking quite so absurd.
I look like a deep-fried Jacobean dandy.
And I absolutely adore it.
Oh, it's a great town, Partick.
And there's the most important building.
Many a happy hour I spent in there.
I'm back in Glasgow and I'm here to meet up
with Jack and John and see their finished paintings.
I would presume he would say he liked it,
if only out of friendship...and pity.
Mine is quite plain, it's obviously like him.
But I put a little wording around the frame...
..which might tickle him.
It is a difficult thing to prepare yourself
for someone's reaction to your work.
But it was a privilege, and it will be a privilege,
to meet Billy and see his reaction.
So I just hope that he likes it.
I'm meeting Jack and John
in what I think is one of the greatest buildings in the world -
the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
I was brought up just a mile away, and like many a wee boy,
the park here beside the gallery was a regular haunt.
There's a song - "Will you go to Kelvingrove, bonnie lassie-o?
"Through its mazes, let us rove, bonnie lassie."
I always wondered where the mazes were, you know?
It was well gone by the time I was a boy.
# Let us haste to Kelvingrove
# Bonnie lassie-o
# Through her mazes let us rove
# Bonnie lassie-o... #
I would be about nine, I think.
That was just about 500 yards away, just on the other side of the river,
looking this way.
We'd come here every Sunday, my sister and I and my friends.
My brother Michael was made to come with me.
He was only six and I was, like, 12,
so I would lock him in a telephone box down at the gate,
and go and play in the park.
# Though I dare not call thee mine
# Bonnie lassie-o... #
There's a fountain across here behind me.
Vinny Maron threw me in one day.
So when I look at this park,
I don't see trees and splendid scenery -
I see all the places where I was flung into the fountain,
where I watched the cleansing department
tipping snow into the Kelvin river, and it's lovely.
As well as looking forward to seeing my portraits,
I'm also going to enjoy a wander around the Kelvingrove Gallery.
I used to come here all the time,
but I haven't been in about 20 years,
and there's been a fair few changes.
Where's all the stuff?
Oh, my God! That's brilliant!
Good old Glasgow.
Oh, that's fantastic!
It is a great place. It was always a friendly place.
My sister and I would take our shoes off
and slide on our stockinged feet,
just slid down here...
..going that way.
God, it's weird being back here.
I remember that elephant very well.
They used to have a tiger called Sheila
and she escaped in Calder Park Zoo and had to be put down
and they had her stuffed and mounted in here.
'Like many a Glaswegian,
'there's one particular painting here that's burned into my memory.'
Oh, there it is.
This is Christ Of St John Of The Cross
by Salvador Dali.
It was bought by the city in 1952, when I was just ten years old.
God, I love that.
I've been looking at that since I was a little boy.
It's probably one of the most important paintings of my life.
You know, it was the first painting to instil in me
that a painting could be enjoyed by me
and I'm sure there was lots of people like me
who saw it as children and it instilled in them a love of painting.
As fond as I am of this painting, it's not the work I'm here to see.
The real treats are still to come.
If ever I wanted a cigarette, it's now.
As I live and breathe, Mr Vettriano!
-Do you remember me?
-Of course I do. How are you?
-Lovely to see you.
But enough of the badinage. Show me the work.
'I can't wait to see what Jack has made.
'It's hard to believe a fleeting moment
'caught on a stormy day in the north-east has led to this.'
The whole thing comes down here...
Oh, my God!
Oh, it's great.
Well done. That's superb.
Thanks, Billy, thanks very much.
You've got it.
-Well, you remember that day...
-I remember the day so well.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
-I remember the cold so well, and the wind.
You've got the power of that day, there,
which must have been incredibly difficult to do.
It's a kind of rare thing, to be in at the beginning of it, you know?
The planning of it, with Jack explaining what he was going to do
and then to see it complete is just such a luxury.
It's an extraordinary piece of work.
I should tell you the title.
The title is Dr Connolly, I Presume?
Which I thought was all right. Do you...?
-Are you OK with that?
-Oh, that's lovely.
Yeah, I think it's good, that.
Oh, that's terrific.
There's an immense power in it, Jack.
You know, the power of the sky
and the power of the weather and the wind
and the power of this.
So I'm so pleased you like it.
Oh, I do. I love it.
Yes, I think you've passed your audition, Mr Vettriano.
-We'll let you do another painting.
I'm absolutely over the moon
with the painting that Jack has done of me
and now it's time to see
what my dear friend John Byrne has been up to.
-How great to see you.
-Oh, it's wonderful.
It's wonderful to see you, Billy.
You'll not think so when you see your picture!
You're looking very well.
I feel terrible.
Shall we go through to see this?
The big reveal...
Oh, my God!
If I didn't know it before, I know it now for sure.
John is a genius.
This is like looking into a mirror.
That's fantastic, John.
-Thank you, Billy.
-So you do know my soul right enough.
You weren't just havering.
I was havering a bit as well.
But behind every haver, there's a wee bit of slaiver.
I love the expression.
That was your expression that day.
One of pure contempt.
-It is, it's contemptuous, isn't it?
-I know it is.
I like the mugshot effect as well.
I know, I put that in.
And it's not just the painting.
John has included a surprise for me in the frame as well.
"A chucky in the water, see the baggy..."
That's a song I used to do. I didn't write it.
# Fling a chucky in the watter
# See the baggy minnies scattair
# Fine well they know what we're aftair
# Wi' wir jeely jaurs and nets in haund... #
# Ah got a stick o' rock for my Auntie Fanny
# And a salt dish for my mammy... #
Tear your heart out, wouldn't it, John?
I know, it's a heartbreaking song.
-I love the frame, though. Isn't it brilliant?
It just came to me,
I had to put a legend on the frame as well as frame a legend.
Well, John, that's remarkable.
Oh, thank you, Billy.
It's remarkable because it's you.
To be with John and the painting is just fantastic, because John has
given me some of the happiest moments of my life.
It's a breathtaking likeness,
but that's what you would expect from John.
# Aw, Saltcoats...
# Goodbye. #
So that's my three birthday portraits complete
and what a pleasure it's been having them done.
And it's great to know they'll be hung together
at the People's Palace in Glasgow.
Now, I thought that would be the end of it,
but it turns out Glasgow has a big surprise in store
for little old me.
The paintings have been transformed into giant murals
right in the centre of Glasgow.
Oh, my God!
Jesus, that's amazing.
I've never seen myself that size before.
Oh, look at the wee bird.
There's a wee bird's nest
in my shoulder.
Isn't that great?
That's set my left arm going.
I try to stop it shaking but it's away again.
# Oh, I wish I was in Glasgow
# With some good old friends of mine
# Some good old... #
I'm very proud of that.
I'm deeply impressed by Glasgow doing this for me.
Especially when you don't live in your home town any more.
It's the strangest feeling, you become a kind of tourist
in your own home town,
but not any more, not with this.
Glasgow belangs to me.
# Oh, I was born in Glasgow... #
I'm shaking like a leaf, it's just had the most profound effect on me.
# I would take you there and show you
# But they've pulled the building down... #
Oh, that's extraordinary.
She's a clever girl, our Rachel.
I'm truly amazed at the effect these have had on me.
They have just completely stunned me.
They're so big, the effect on me is so profound.
People going to that length for me, it's just taken my breath away.
You're doing well, are you?
-Trying my best.
-That's good, that's good.
Look after yourself.
Can I shake your hand, Billy?
-Great to meet you.
-Look after yourself.
Brilliant, Billy, man. You gave us inspiration.
-All right, mate?
-Thank you very much.
God bless you, mate. All right?
Nae hassles at all.
What can I tell you?
Thank you very much and... goodnight!
Celebrating Billy Connolly's 75th birthday and 50 years in the business, three Scottish artists - John Byrne, Jack Vettriano and Rachel MacLean - each create a new portrait of the Big Yin. As he sits with each artist, Billy talks about his remarkable life and career, which has taken him from musician and pioneering stand-up to Hollywood star and national treasure.