The National Television Awards which took place at the O2 last night, was brilliantly hosted by Dermot O’Leary and paid tribute to the industry greats from the British Public votes.
The usual programmes and presenters such as Downton Abbey, Eastenders and Ant and Dec were recognised and rewarded, but the night was completely turned on its head when our legendary Billy Connolly was presented with the Special Recognition Award by International Icon Dustin Hoffman.
Now suffering from Parkinson’s disease, our iconic comedian braved the steep climb to the stage alone. He delivered sharp witty dialogue in spite of his physical disadvantage and brought tears to our eyes as he bantered true Connolly style with his fellow artists.
The standing ovation from the entire audience of superstars and supporters was evidence of his long standing successful career as a comedian, presenter and movie actor and how much he is loved.
Our very own Judy Dench stood witness to his sensitivity and gift for putting fellow performers at ease, and Dustin Hoffman also paid homage to the talent of the man.
The night was fun and entertaining, but it left me with a question and investigation into this debilitating disease. Parkinson’s is still a mystery, its causes are still unexplained and the disease has affected so many prominent figures in entertainment and the public eye.
Johnny Cash and fighter Muhammad Ali, evangelist Billy Graham who is still alive at 94, singer Linda Ronstadt and the late Bob Hoskins are all victims of Parkinson’s and many many more.
I am not here to spoil the occasion, but like anything we do not want to face, we tend to sweep it under the carpet. Seeing someone we know and love like Billy Connolly has brought it to our attention, and perhaps has helped in some way to make inroads into combatting this devastating disease.
Please go to www.parkinsons.org