Billy Connolly recalls sister’s protection during ‘violent and abusive’ school years

Billy Connolly sits outside his mansion in Florida's Key West

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The acclaimed Scottish comedian explored his early life in Glasgow in the two-part BBC series, Billy Connolly: Made In Scotland. During the film, which aired again on Thursday evening, he paid tribute to his sister Florence as one of his main guardians as a young boy.

Billy revealed his sister would protect him during his early schooling years.

In one of his most recent TV appearances, Made In Scotland, he recalled the tough schooling conditions in 1940s and 50s Glasgow.

Mainly raised by his father’s two sisters after the departure of his mother, his sister, 18 months his senior, was just as important to his wellbeing as a child.

My sister, Flo, was my guardian,” he recalled. “She looked after me all my life.”

Florence, who passed away six years ago, would frequently retaliate against schoolyard bullies who picked on Billy as a child.

He continued: “She would hit people for me! Bullies and stuff.

The comedian went on to reveal some more unpleasant details about his time at school before he left at age 15.

“My primary school was like a Dickensian hangover,” he explained.

“Violent and abusive. And then, we’d go to school and I’d get this monster as a teacher.

“She’d get such joy at whacking people with this leather belt.”

Billy would sadly be humiliated not only by his peers but also by his school’s adult faculty.

He mused: “To humiliate someone is a desperate, desperately bad, wrong thing.”

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“Humiliation is forever. It takes you so long to get over it.”

The actor and comedian has previously detailed his time growing up and living opposite St Peter’s Primary School.

The school has now been converted into accommodation, but Billy suffered frequent lashings from one teacher in particular, “Big Rosie McDonald”.

In his biography, he claimed one student with glasses was nicknamed ‘four eyes’ by Miss McDonald during his time there.

He later told the Guardian after his sister’s death: “She used to beat people up at school who were picking on me. She ended up being a school teacher.

“When Flo died I got an irrational terror that I was gonna be picked on again. A wave would come over me, that I was unsafe, that I was exposed.

Billy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013, though continues to make TV appearances, most recently in this year’s documentary Billy Connolly: My Absolute Pleasure.

Billy Connolly: Made In Scotland is available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

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