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Why is Mrs Connolly waltzing back

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    Posted: 11 Sep 2010 at 12:23

She shunned celebrity to be an oh-so serious sex therapist.
So why IS Mrs Billy Connolly waltzing back into the limelight?

Last updated at 9:08 AM on 11th September 2010

Mornings amid the baronial splendour of the Highlands home shared by Pamela Stephenson and Billy Connolly are a resolutely spiritual affair.

Before a frugal breakfast of raw fruit and green tea, Miss Stephenson submits herself to a ritual of deep meditation, during which she demands complete silence from her large household of staff.

Then, before she is ready to begin the day in earnest, she puts herself through an hour of challenging Ashtanga yoga.


Pamela at the launch of the new series of 'Strictly Come Dancing' 2010

Her exercise routine has become increasingly strenuous in recent weeks, as the 60-year-old former comedienne strives to get into shape for her appearance in the new series of Strictly Come Dancing, which begins tonight.

Such a disciplined start to the day is, Pamela is apt to explain (somewhat fruitily) in her newspaper sex advice column, the perfect tonic for improving the female orgasm.

Of late, she and her actor/comedian husband have also been doing traditional Scottish dancing around the kitchen of the Aberdeenshire retreat they bought from Body-Shop founder Anita RRoddick 21 years ago.

The Connollys are lairds of Candacraig, a 13-acre fishing lodge which, Billy delights in telling his Hollywood guests, is haunted by the ghost of a headless dog.

For her part, his wife is fond of recounting how she was once visited by a ghostly apparition who poked her in the ribs with an umbrella and told her she was having a mid-life crisis.


All of which sounds a bit weird, even by the standards of one of showbusiness’s most eccentric couples.

But perhaps no more than the fact that Pamela — who is looking surprisingly youthful and wrinkle-free for someone entering her seventh decade — has decided to don a pink frock and sparkly shoes to compete in Strictly.

‘I love dancing,’she trills. ‘I’m desperate to win.’

In fact, her costumes are so glamorously figure-hugging that Billy has already complained.

‘When he saw me, Billy said: “You are naked. What are you thinking. Are you crazy? I’m concerned about what you are going to wear,” ’ she said yesterday. ‘I think it’s hysterical. In one way I know he is hugely proud.’

Wait — can this be the same Miss Stephenson who two decades ago turned her back on a successful showbusiness career to become a psychotherapist?

Is Strictly’s smiley Pamela — plump of lip and recent recipient of a Botox top-up — really the person who for years refused to crack a smile in interviews and announced that she wished to be addressed as Professor Stephenson Connolly?


The Scottish comedian and actor, with his wife Pamela Stephenson, and his CBE, which he collected on December 3, 2003

Apparently, the woman who once heaped po-faced scorn on reality shows — saying: ‘I don’t like them because the idea of putting people under pressure on camera to see what h appens is borderline abusive’ — has had a change of heart.

Pamela has, for the time being at least, turned her back on her lucrative private practice as a Hollywood sex therapist to focus her energies on choreographing her return to the limelight.

But as she contemplates her upcoming stint in Strictly, there remains more than a trace of the hippy Californian shrink about her.

What other explanation can there be for her describing the unashamedly frivolous dance competition as ‘deeply psychological’?

The esteemed doctor of psychology and self-styled world expert on human sexuality has told friends that her decision to return to the world of pancake make-up and fishnet tights is part of her personal psychological odyssey.

It is, she has been telling them, her attempt to ‘individuate’ — high-flown therapist-speak for doing your own thing.

But is the explanation a little simpler? After all, having spent 21 years as Mrs Billy Connolly, playing second fiddle to him at film premieres and being a hands-on mother to their three daughters — as well as Billy’s two children from his first marriage — Pamela has, say friends, started to crave the limelight once more.


Is the plump of lip and recent recipient of a Botox top-up really the same person who for years refused to crack a smile?

‘She often used to say how no one even noticed her at Hollywood parties,’ a Los Angeles-based friend told the Mail. 

‘She’d complain there was a pecking order and she came right down the line, somewhere after the make-up girl. It was like she was invisible.

‘Although she’s really proud of Billy, I know it really got to her at times.’

Despite his gregarious image The Big Yin is, according to his wife, a reclusive figure who likes to fish, play the banjo, or sit quietly with the crossword. And that’s when he’s there at all.

Friends say he spends much of his time on tour and now that the children have grown up Pamela is lonely and bored. Hence her bold foray back into the world of light entertainment.

And although Billy was on hand to watch his wife recording her Strictly debut this week, he won’t be able to support her all the way to the final, if she’s lucky enough to make it that far.

True to form, he will be busy working — performing his stand-up show in Chicago later this month before beginning a tour of Canada in October.

The Connolly marriage has, it is fair to say, been an increasingly long-distance

They met in 1979 on the set of Not The Nine O’Clock News, the television comedy show starring the then 30-year-old Stephenson, Rowan Atkinson, Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith.

Both were married: Connolly to his childhood sweetheart Iris, with whom he has a son and a daughter, and Pamela to actor Nicholas Ball.

Pamela has described how she considered Connolly ‘an insane Scottish beastie who had no business being anywhere outside a zoo’.

Nonetheless, she admits she found him wildly attractive and they began the affair that would end both their marriages. They married on Fiji in 1989 and moved to Los Angeles in the early Nineties when Billy landed his own U.S. TV show.

Pamela ditched the outrageous, fun-loving persona that had seen her dress up as a sexy policewoman, along with friends Princess Diana and Fergie, to gatecrash Prince Andrew’s stag night in 1986.

The trio were apprehended by police after pretending to ‘arrest’ another of their friends outside the gates of Buckingham Palace.

Diana passed around a packet of smoky bacon crisps, which the unwitting
policemen happily shared before one of them finally recognised her.

In another outrageous incident, Pamela wrapped her legs around a fellow
guest’s neck on Michael Parkinson’s chat show.


Both were previously married: Connolly to his childhood sweetheart Iris, with whom he has a son and a daughter, and Pamela to actor Nicholas Ball

But after her marriage, she reinvented herself as a serious professor who gave seminars and wrote books about ‘advanced human sexuality’ (specialist subject: sadomasochism).

She taught at the California Graduate Institute and founded the Los Angeles Sexuality Centre, where she dealt with gender issues and sexual disorders.

She also dedicated a large part of her time to one of her daughters (the Connollys
have never said which one), who has a severe learning disability.

But when the girl went to live at an American residential college in 2004, Pamela had a mid-life crisis.

‘It was very, very hard for me to let her go,’ she says. ‘I knew I needed to, but it was painful.’

To her family’s dismay, she announced she wanted to sell the family home in Los Angeles to buy a yacht and sail the South Seas alone.

‘I was overdoing it and I had to get away,’ she says. ‘I even threatened Billy and said: “If I can’t do this, then I think I’m just going to have to go and live on a Pacific Island for a while.” I needed to run away. I needed a complete break.’

The couple’s daughters Daisy, Amy, and Scarlett, at the time 22, 19, and 17, were ‘furious, shocked and bewildered’ and begged her not to go.

But, maintaining it was something she had to do for the sake of her sanity, she set off on a year-long voyage to retrace a journey taken by Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife in the 1880s.

All very odd, especially given that Billy suffers from what psychologists such as Pamela like to call ‘abandonment issues’.

In Billy, her bestselling biography of her husband, Pamela recounted how he was abandoned by his mother and abused by his father.

A former alcoholic and drug user, Connolly credits New-Zealand-born Pamela with saving his life by forcing him to choose between her and the bottle.

Having sold up in LA, the Connollys now split their time between New York and their Scottish estate, where they are keen supporters of the local Lonach Gathering
and Highland Games.

In the past they have brought along celebrity friends, including
Steve Martin and Dame Judi Dench, hiring bodyguards to patrol the village and keep the paparazzi at bay.

Last month Billy and Pamela were there as usual, handing out whisky to the competitors as they made their traditional tour of the area’s big houses.

But I’m told the showbiz elite no longer comes, and Billy and Pamela now live a resolutely quiet life.

‘They keep very much to themselves,’ says local art gallery owner Peter Goodfellow. ‘They are very insular and apart from the Lonach Games, they don’t join in.’

And while some in the area may well cheer on the dancing Miss Stephenson, others are not so supportive.

I’m told the couple are viewed with mixed feelings and have aroused bad feeling
by buying up properties and leaving them empty, which some feel has driven away tourism.

‘There was a specialist garden nursery and tea room next door to their property but they bought it and it closed down,’ says Mr Goodfellow.

‘It’s just empty now and full of weeds, as is the wedding chapel on the same site. It was apparently too close to the Connollys’ property and they didn’t want the public looking at them. They also bought five cottages that were used as holiday lets. But they are now standing empty. We don’t get tourists here any more.’

The Connollys do socialise, but only with other local lairds. But then Pamela and Billy, a former Glaswegian welder, have long enjoyed moving in aristocratic circles.

Prince Charles, Camilla, and Prince Andrew were all guests at Connolly’s 60th birthday party in 2002 and Pamela interviewed her old pal The Duchess of York as part of her Channel 4 series Shrink Rap.

What her grand friends — never mind former patients — will make of her sequin-spangled return to TV is anyone’s guess. But when she makes her grand entrance on Strictly tonight, and tries to remind the British public of the bright star she once was, one can’t help but suspect that the mid-life crisis isn’t yet over for the endearingly
batty Miss Stephenson.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1310999/She-shunned-celebrity-oh-sex-therapist-So-IS-Mrs-Billy-Connolly-waltzing-limelight.html#ixzz0zDd3glK8
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