Henry Winter
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Billy Connolly shares life stories to help beat blood cancer

Henry Winter
Posted by
08 Dec 2011

Billy Connolly entertained a packed audience of devoted fans last night (Sunday 6 November) as he shared hilarious and candid stories with BBC Creative Director Alan Yentob.

He talked about his life as comedian, musician, presenter and actor for a special charity ‘Audience With’ event at London’s Criterion Theatre in support of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

Connolly wore his hair cut short for his role as a retired baritone in a new film directed by Dustin Hoffman. When asked by Yentob about his abusive childhood in a Glasgow tenement, Connolly told the audience; “the power of forgiveness is immense”.

He regaled the audience with memories of his early life as a welder in Scottish shipyards, and the humour shared by co-workers which he drew on when in the early 1970s he made the transition to stand-up comedian.

The event was sold out within 48 hours of going on sale and fans were given the chance to put their own questions directly to Billy during the evening.

The event followed the huge success of 'A Special Audience' evenings with Mel Brooks, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry and Kevin Spacey, which together have raised over £200,000 for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research life-saving research into better treatments and cures for all blood cancers.

Leading literary agent and leukaemia survivor Ed Victor hosted the event. Victor still undergoes regular treatment and is very open about the fact that he owes his life to research. He created the "Special Audience" idea for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

Kate White, Director of Fundraising at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: "It was brilliant to have Billy’s support for this year's event, raising so much money to help blood cancer patients. It was a very special evening - the Criterion is a really intimate venue and I don’t think anyone stopped laughing all night. ”