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The legendary comedian said he thought that he would be “cancelled”, with his “fearless” material deemed too offensive for current audiences.

Sir Billy, 78, found fame as a comic in the 1970s. He upset religious groups with routines such as the Last Supper, in which he imagined the final days of Jesus beginning in a pub on his native Glasgow’s Gallowgate.

But he said that political correctness has now gone too far, and claimed that talented comedians were not being given an opportunity to shine because TV executives were not brave enough to broadcast edgy acts.

Asked if he would be shunned today, US-based Sir Billy said: “Absolutely. You can’t decide to be fearless, you’re either fearless or you’re not and you go about it.

“Because of political correctness people have pulled in the horns but I don’t know how I feel about that. I couldn’t have started today with the talent I had then, certainly not.

“There’s a show here in America with all black comedians, men and women, and they are totally ruthless.

“They are totally without political correctness and they have always got me on the floor howling with laughter. It’s just the cheek of them and the bravery of it.

“There was a comedian who had a series on television and the suits involved were going to take it off at the first commercial break.

“They have got no bravery. We need people who give people time and a chance to develop and all that kind of stuff.

“I think things have changed forever [with political correctness] but you never know.”

The film star and musician was speaking to New Zealand radio network Newstalk ZB in an interview to promote his autobiography Windswept & Interesting which is published tomorrow.

He said that writing some parts of the book, such as covering the abuse from his father and his aunts that he suffered as a child, had made him depressed.

Sir Billy, known as the Big Yin, continued: “It was difficult to write, and the trouble with it is when you bring it up it stays for a while and then you get over it and then you bring it up again and you get depressed again.

“I don’t know if it helps or not but you are as well to get it off your shoulder and into the open air. It’s difficult but you get there.”

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Sir Billy – married to former Not the Nine O’Clock News star Pamela Stephenson, 71 – announced his retirement from performing stand-up comedy in 2018.

He has carried on making documentaries and is currently filming a series called Billy Connolly Does… for TV channel Gold.

Sir Billy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease nine years ago after a doctor approached him when he saw him walk with an unusual gait through the lobby of a hotel in Los Angeles.

The couple moved to Florida from their previous home in New York after medics advised him to live in a warmer climate.

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