IT could have been a warm welcome home for a conquering comedy hero when Billy Connolly appeared before an audience of Scottish school children at the BBC in Glasgow.

Instead, the programme, Open to Question, turned into a pile-on in which the comic was roasted for portraying his fellow Glaswegians as “ignorant bigoted morons” and generally giving the city a bad name.

Now a new series on the BBC Scotland channel, Billy and Us, reveals the December 1984 episode of Open to Question was an ambush.

Clips show the 80-strong audience of teenagers bombarding Connolly with questions including: “Why do you play Glaswegians as ignorant bigoted morons?”; “Are you glad your daughter Daisy is not going to be brought up in Glasgow?” ; “You offended a religion which many people take very seriously. Do you not regret this?; “Did you intend to give such a bad view of Glasgow and Glaswegians?”; and “You often come across as an outrageous character. Why do you feel the need to act this way?”

Journalist Allan Little’s first job in television was as a researcher on Open to Question. Interviewed for Billy and Us, he recalls: “What we sort of did was the production team kind of schooled the kids in how to ask pointed and awkward questions.”

At one point a taken aback Connolly is seen challenging the audience. “This is a thing I continually find when I come to Scotland - I’m always on the defensive. ‘Why do you give us such a bad name?’ What have I done to you? What are you all greetin’ about?”

Mr Little, who went on to become a reporter for the BBC, praises Connolly for the way he dealt with the situation.

“He defused it very well, just by being funny and self-deprecating and self-interrogating. He handled it absolutely masterfully.”

As it turned out, the 1984 recording ended happily with Connolly performing an impromptu comedy set for the youngsters.

Sir Billy recalls not enjoying the Open to Question experience. “I’m a comedian. I’m one guy. Talking into a microphone. How can I give a nation a bad name?

The BBC Scotland season, dubbed “A big celebration of the Big Yin”, spans Connolly’s rise from controversial young stand-up to national treasure.

It begins on Thursday with the six-part Billy and Us, a mix of contemporary interview, archive material, and Scots, including comedian Janey Godley, reflecting on what Connolly’s comedy has meant to them.

The first episode finds Connolly, who announced in 2013 that he had Parkinson’s, reflecting candidly on his childhood.

The 77-year-old says: “It was post-war and beating your children up was pretty normal. People were beaten for the slightest things.

“The experience of school stayed with me, and stays with me, to this day. It was traumatic. So it lent itself to comedy - the big boss and the wee man.”

Connolly’s mother left the family home in Partick when he was three years old. His aunt beat him and his father sexually abused him, a fact he kept secret until telling his wife, the psychologist Pamela Stephenson, on the day his dad died.

“Good comedians tend to have a dark past,” he says. “When I say a dark past it doesn’t mean you have to have something sinful or weird or criminal in your past.”

He once told the talk show host Michael Parkinson that he had considered talking about sexual abuse in his routines, much as he had broached the violence in his childhood. But after a couple of tentative attempts he realised it was impossible. “There is no colder subject on earth.”

After years of touring with his comedy, Connolly built another successful career making travel documentaries. Now retired from stand-up, he lives in Florida but makes regular trips to Scotland. During a recent visit he unveiled his latest series of artworks. From welder and folk singer to artist and actor, possibly only David Bowie has gone through more reinventions than Connolly.

The season will include the drama Down Among the Big Boys in which Billy Connolly starred in 1993, and the 1997 movie Mrs Brown, in which he played ghillie John Brown to Judi Dench’s Queen Victoria. The BAFTA tribute shown on the BBC in 2002 will be shown again, and the Billy Connolly Who Do You Think You Are is given another airing.

“All my life I’ve wanted to make people laugh,” says Connolly. “While I might have been shocking, I never set out to shock, I just did what I thought was funny. But looking back I can see that by sending up what was around me at the time, I might well have ended up breaking down barriers and taking on the odd taboo.”

Steve Carson, head of multiplatform commissioning at BBC Scotland, said: “Billy’s story is in part Scotland’s story and the series also traces the social history of the country that helped shaped him.”

Billy and Us, BBC Scotland, Thursday, 10pm