Billy Connolly has firmly dismissed Sir Michael Parkinson's claim that the 75-year-old comedian was no longer capable of recognising him.
On Saturday, the broadcaster described an "awkward dinner" he had with his close friend Connolly, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2013.
"[His] wonderful brain has dulled," said Parkinson, 83. "I saw him recently – he's now living in America – and it was very sad, because I was presenting him with a prize at an award ceremony [...] We had an awkward dinner together, because I wasn't quite sure if he knew who I was or not."
Speaking on ITV's Saturday Morning with James Martin, Parkinson continued: "To know someone as long as I knew and loved Billy [...] it was an awful thing to contemplate, that that had been taken from him in a sense."
Now the comedian has hit back at Michael Parkinson's claim that the 75-year-old comedian was no longer capable of recognising him. In a direct response to Parkinson's comments, Connolly says: "I would recognise Parky if he was standing behind me - in a diving suit."
Connolly's wife Pamela Stephenson has hit back at Parkinson's claims on Twitter calling him a "daft old fart" who "doesn't know what he's talking about".
Friends and colleagues of Connolly are surprised by Parkinson's remarks this weekend and insist he is "fine and well".
Producers at Indigo Television, the company behind several of the Glaswegian comedian's TV projects, have suggested Parkinson did not have an accurate impression of Connolly's health.
"We have been busy filming with Billy over the summer and can report happily that he's on top form – as sharp and hilarious as ever," they said, in a statement issued today.
"We were speaking with his wife Pamela Stephenson only today and she is pretty sure that Billy has no more problem recognising old friends than anyone else of his age who has lived abroad for years."
Referring to the "awkward dinner", Indigo Television said Connolly's family disagreed with Parkinson's version of events. "The GQ Awards must be the event Sir Michael is talking about – it was a couple of years ago in 2016 and Sir Michael presented Billy with an Inspiration Award," they said.
"Pamela said that she and daughter Cara were at the dinner and remembers from the night that Billy turned to her and Cara immediately and said 'oh good – there's Parky!'"
One source close to the comedian added: "[He] could spot Parky in a bus queue from an F16 supersonic jet!"
Connolly, who received a CBE for services to entertainment, is one of the UK's most acclaimed stand-up comedians. In 1997, he received a Bafta nomination for his role alongside Judi Dench in the historical drama Mrs Brown.
In recent years, he has spoken frankly about his battle with Parkinson's disease. "A sense of humour is absolutely essential," he told the Mail last year. "It's the only thing that gets you through. Sometimes I get kind of dark about it. It's because it's forever, you know. It's not like having pneumonia and you're going to get better. You're not going to get any better.