Connolly hits back in row

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CONTROVERSIAL Scottish comedian Billy Connolly has broken his silence over a Scarborough heckling row - branding audience barbs as “acts of cowardice”.

The award-winning funnyman walked off stage at the Futurist Theatre in January after a much-publicised dispute with crowds.

Mr Connolly, who played two sell-out shows at the famous seaside venue, blamed drunken hecklers and people wandering to bars and toilets for his impromptu exit.

His Scarborough walk-off was followed just days later by a similar incident at the Blackpool Opera House.

Scores of angry Scarborough fans queued up to criticise the comedian, nicknamed Big Yin, adding the seasoned campaigner should be experienced enough to deal with problematic crowds.

However, the 69-year-old Glaswegian has rebuffed the claims, accusing audience members of making comments while “hiding in the dark”.

He said: “Heckling is an act of cowardice.

“If you want to speak, get up in front of the microphone and speak, don’t sit in the dark hiding.

“It’s easy to hide and shout and waste people’s time.

“By the time you get to the concert stage, that shouldn’t be happening.

“In clubs you expect it, but not at the bigger gigs.”

Mr Connolly’s Scarborough set-list included references to the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster to fatbuster diet pills.

However, he denied he had overstepped the boundaries of taste in his show.

He added: “I don’t aim to offend but finding new stuff to talk about is difficult.

“It’s hard not to stumble on something that gets people’s backs up.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the difference between the jokes you can tell your friends but you can’t tell to an audience.

“There’s a fine line you have to tread because you don’t know who is out there in the auditorium.

“A lot of people are too easily offended.”