A NEW National Theatre of Scotland production celebrating Billy Connolly is coming to the Ayrshire stage this month.

And 'Dear Billy - a Love Letter to the Big Yin from the People of Scotland', written and performed by Gary McNair, can be seen at three of the venues where Connolly once trod the boards.

There will be performances at Kilmarnock's Palace Theatre on Tuesday, May 16 and at the Gaiety Theare Ayr on Tuesday, May 23.

But Billy's fans had better not hang about - because a performance of the show at a third Ayrshire venue, the Barrfields Theatre in Largs on June 16, has already sold out.

A spokesperson for the show said: "Billy Connolly needs no introduction. He is a national treasure. From the shipyards of the Clydeside to his trailblazing and extraordinary stage and movie exploits, he is woven into Scottish culture.  

"Everyone has a Billy story. An expert team of story gatherers has created a collection of these moving and hilarious tales.

"Gary, one of Scotland’s best theatre makers, has turned these stories into a special show celebrating the Big Yin and what he means to the people of Scotland. 

"Dear Billy is a unique touring production that will evolve on the road. It will travel the length and breadth of Scotland, visiting local theatres, art and community centres, building up to a final run at the Kings Theatre in Glasgow."  

The production was announced last year to mark Billy Connolly’s 80th birthday year. 

Ayr Advertiser: Billy opens the restored Pavilion TheatreBilly opens the restored Pavilion Theatre (Image: National Theatre of Scotland)

Gary is hitting the road with musicians, collecting more stories from audience members which may become woven into the show as the tour progresses.        

Each show offers a unique chance to audiences, to laugh, sing, and celebrate the man and the legend.    

The show will be directed by Joe Douglas, with music performed and composed by Simon Liddell and Jill O’Sullivan, set and costume designed by Claire Halleran, and lighting design by Kate Bonney and Simon Hayes.

The Big Yin famously sold out the Grand Hall in Kilmarnock in less than an hour, and returned to the Palace Theatre in to re-open the building in 1985 following a fire in 1979. 

He said at the time: “I love the way you change the theatre every time I come here. I've never seen this place the same twice.” 

Ayr Advertiser: The Big Yin sells out the GaietyThe Big Yin sells out the Gaiety (Image: National Theatre of Scotland)

April 1977 saw Billy take a starring turn on the Gaiety’s stage, with a sold-out performance of his play ‘When Hair Was Long & Time Was Short.’

This show is also known to this day as the fastest sell-out in the Gaiety's history, with every available ticket snapped up in just 25 minutes - albeit with some sold in advance to coach parties who travelled to Ayr to see Billy perform.  

The Borderline Theatre Company – the founders of Ayr Gaiety Partnership, current owners of The Gaiety – also toured Billy’s show, An’ Me Wi’ a Bad Leg Tae, in 1976 which sold out a three-week run at London’s Royal Court.

The audience response was overwhelming, with demand resulting in two additional tours shortly afterwards of over 100 performances.

Both shows toured with Borderline again in 1995.  

Gary, a Glasgow based writer and performer and three-time Fringe First winner, said:  “It’s an honour to be doing this show. To take on a subject and a figure as beloved by the public as Billy, with our National Theatre is a very proud moment indeed and one that I will cherish.   

"It has been a joyous production to be a part of with so many wonderful artists involved in its research and development. 

"I hope we can continue that feeling of joy when we get on the road and share it with audiences up and down the country.   

"There will be a seat for Billy every night and we hope he can come along and see just what he means to the people of Scotland.”