He may be one of Britain's best-loved comedians, but there was nothing funny about Billy Connolly's early life.
You could say it was positively Dickensian: a mother who abandoned him (though he would meet her again years later), and a father who abused him.
Billy lived in poverty in Glasgow and left school to work in the shipyards. He also worked as a musician and played in a folk duo called 'The Humblebums' with the late Gerry Rafferty.
Between songs, Billy would tell stories, and before long he was one of the U.K.'s biggest stand-ups. Billy was larger than life - perfectly suited for film and TV - and American audiences thought so too when he came across the pond to star in 'Head of the Class'.
You can look for Billy in the upcoming 'Hobbit' movies - he plays Ironfoot the dwarf - and in a great new film called 'Quartet' directed by Dustin Hoffman.
It's one of my favourites from last year's Toronto Film Festival. Billy plays a retired opera singer who, like Billy, knows that growing old doesn't have to mean growing up.