Billy Connolly presented with Special Recognition gong at NTAs
Billy Connolly was overcome with emotion as he picked up the Special Recognition gong at the National Television Awards on Wednesday night (20.01.16).
The 73-year-old comedian, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease last year, was welcomed to the stage at London's O2 Arena by Dustin Hoffman, as two of his daughters watched from the audience.
Dustin had flown in from America especially for the occasion, and said he would always admire the comedian, and his close friend.
He said: "i'm delighted to be here tonight to pay tribute to a man whose work I've always admired and whose company I always enjoy. This man has been entertaining the world for 50 years, and that's no accident. Audiences return again and again and new generations of admirers come to him because he has the gift of inviting everyone unconditionally into his world and he exposes the truth. He transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. My friend is an artist in the truest sense of the world. It has been a great honour to count him as a friend."
A collection of clips of comedians, actors and musicians paying tribute to Billy was then played.
Peter Kay, who had earlier dedicated his own award to Billy, said in the VT: "There isn't a comedian in the world that hasn't been influenced by Billy Connolly. Billy you deserve this - you're a lucky gypsy!'
David Tennant added: "He has a timing and an insight and a joy about him. And those three things combine to create something very special.
"When you start laughing at one of billy's routines it can get near fatal - like you're never going to get out of the end of it.
"He has a way of channelling himself through the characters he plays which is much easier said than done - a lot of classically trained actors fail to do. There is a real humanity to them, there's a truth to them.
Sir Elton John took the time to honour Billy, saying: "His enduring quality is that he's never lost that spark and he's done other things than being a comedian. he's a great musician, he's done great documentaries.
"Billy you've been a really important part of my life and i can't thank you enough for just being Billy."
Judi Dench starred alongside Billy in 1997 movie Mrs Brown, which told the story of the romance between Queen Victoria and her manservant John Brown.
Judi said: "Whether it be a travel programme or acting a serious part in a film, he has a wonderful sensitivity. There was as we know a tremendous chemistry between Queen Victoria and John Brown - Billy made that very easy to film."
Taking to the stage to collect his award, Billy told the audience: "This is the best laxative i've ever had in my life!
"I'd like to thank Bill Tennant in Scotland who was the first man to put me on television and Michael Parkinson who was the first British man to put me on television.
"There's so many people i have to thank, to Dustin for putting me in his movie, thank you all very much from the bottom of my heart. I'd like to particularly thank British comedians, the standard of which is rising all the times, from Chic berry and Max Wall to Reeves and Mortimer. I love you all and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you very much indeed."
Billy also joked with Peter for not having given him the award he had won despite dedicating it to him, causing the comedian to climb up to the stage and present him with the gong.
Hilariously, Billy said afterwards: "Limelight grabber!"