Billy Connolly | BFI to release rare documentary

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Rare Billy Connolly documentary Big Banana Feet is undergoing restoration for a DVD and Blu-ray release, courtesy of the BFI.

Billy Connolly is unquestionably one of the most beloved stand-up comedians to ever grace the stage.

An alternative comedian before the term existed, Connolly was playing folk clubs with the likes of Jasper Carrott and Richard Digance in the early 1970s. Eventually, his patter between songs became so popular, Connolly ditched the music and became a stand up comic full time.

He has consistently been voted amongst the best stand up comedians on history by peers and public alike. He undertook his final tour, High Horse, in 2016 and published his latest autobiography, Windswept And Interesting, in 2021.

1975 was a landmark year for Connolly, as it marked the first of many appearences on Michael Parkinson’s chat show. The same year, a documentary called Big Banana Feet was filmed. It’s title came from the huge, banana shaped boots Connolly used to wear while performing. It followed him as he toured Ireland, capturing his stand up routines and behind the scenes material.

The BFI restored the footage in collaboration with original director Murray Grigor from the only 16mm print known to exist, and the film is now in 2K resolution. Grigor and cinematographer David Peat were inspired by the fly-on-the-wall style of the Bob Dylan documentary Don’t Look Back as they recorded how Connolly used his humour to navigate the political tensions of 1970s Dublin and Belfast.

A new series of Billy Connolly Does…, in which cameras follow Connolly’s life in and around his Florida home where he lives with his wife, Pamela Stephenson, starts on Gold on Thursday.

Big Banana Feet will be released on duel format DVD and Blu-ray on the 20th May, you can pre-order it here.

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