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Just Janice: Happy 70th Birthday, Billy Connolly

Happy Birthday, Billy Connolly.

And not any old birthday - yes, the Big Yin will be 70 this weekend.

He’s in fine fettle - clearly those years of wellie-wearing have done the trick, keeping him out of the hospital (or infirmary).

I was delighted to spend a couple of hours in his company exactly a year ago, when we met to do a radio interview. Off-mike, his language was as vivid as his multi-hued scarf; on-air he was a dream interviewee - hilarious, of course, but also engaging, reflective and endlessly curious about, and excited by, the world, life, people - the extraordinary and the everyday.

That openness and excitement are pre-requisites to being an ace comedian, but also, I’m sure, to staying young at heart.

Certainly, Billy is as busy as ever. His new film, Quartet, opens in cinemas here in January and, because he’s doing a stand-up tour in the USA at the moment, he was unable to pick up his Bafta Scotland Lifetime Achievement award on Sunday, though he’ll collect it when he’s in Glasgow on December 10 for a Life in Pictures Bafta event, celebrating his film career.

It’ll be a great night, but Billy did tell me that such accolades can be a strange experience, too.

When his famous banana boots were installed in Glasgow's People’s Palace he said: “I felt duty-bound to be dead, because I was in a museum”. And when he’s given a lifetime achievement award he wonders: “Do they know something I don’t? Have they been speaking to my doctor?”

Well, I think such awards are a good thing and, as the Big Yin gets set to receive his, I’d like to nominate another Scot for an overdue Lifetime Achievement accolade - the Wee Yin - the brilliant actress, Una McLean.

She has a good few years on Billy, but looks barely eligible for a bus-pass, yet, astonishingly, her career spans almost 60 years.

Una’s done the lot - variety, panto, a pioneer with her own TV shows in the 1960s, a compelling, serious stage actress. She’s appeared in numerous films and is a highlight of BBC Scotland’s River City, playing the indefatigable Molly O’Hara.

She’s also glamorous, stylish and has the most raucous laugh I’ve ever heard. She’s Numero Una - give her a gong!

Staying in upbeat, life-affirming mode, my Numero Uno film for you to see this weekend is Silver Linings Playbook. Director David O Russell’s latest feature is marketed as a rom-com, but it’s so much more. It deals with mental health issues, and family dynamics in a refreshing, quirky way.

You’ll laugh and, if you’re a sop like me, you’ll cry. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are fab, but, best of all, it’s wonderful to see another old-timer, Robert De Niro, back on form with a fantastic performance as Bradley’s dad.

Just thinking, Robert De Niro and Una McLean would be a great screen couple. I’m going to start on that screenplay now.

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