Bill Bailey
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Joined: 25 Apr 2006

PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 2:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill Bailey's comedy gigs fuelled by chip fat in Five's Fifth Gear experiment
Mark Jefferies
The Mirror

Bill Bailey might look a bit greasy the next time we see him on TV... The comedian's been travelling to gigs in a Mercedes that runs on old chip fat! He's done it for Five's Fifth Gear as part of his efforts to be more environmentally friendly.

If you fancy doing the same with your motor, all is explained on Monday's show. Sounds like a great excuse to eat more chips!
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill Bailey: Me & my money
John Kercher,
Money Mail
4 February 2009

Bill Bailey, 43, the musical comedian, has just finished a successful run of his Tinselworm show in London's West End. He has been a captain on Never Mind The Buzzcocks and a regular on the comedy quiz QI. His next project is a stage show based on Charles Darwin. He lives in West London with his wife Kris and their five-year-old son, Dax.

About £27 a week, when I worked behind the bar in a West Country pub called The Wheatsheaf. I was doing shifts before I went to study English and drama for about five minutes.

Yes. I worked as a pianist in several clubs and the Hilton hotel chain. It was lounge stuff and I got about £180 a week, which was good money in the mid-Eighties. I was working four days a week and twice on Sundays. People always had requests, so by the time I stopped doing the work, I could play practically anything.

Deciding to work for myself. I didn't want to be dependent on other people, such as friends who had joined bands. I joined with someone to form a comedy duo and we were paid £14 for our first gig. We didn't cash the cheque, but framed it and hung a small hammer beside it, in case we needed it for an emergency. For other gigs, we got about £70.

It was a houseboat on the Thames near Hammersmith - an old American coastal patrol boat. I paid £12,000 for it. When I wanted to get rid of it after a few years, it was in a bit of a state. I didn't make anything on it.

I reluctantly rely on cards for convenience. But I have a nostalgic affection for cash. I remember doing a gig, with a friend, in Blackpool, and we were meant to get paid £400. But when they came to give us the money, they only had £381. So they had a whip-round of cash from their own pockets. Then we went out to an Indian and paid the bill in piles of 2p coins.

Normally it's not much. But doing the West End show, I like to have enough to buy people a drink afterwards. So I've got about £140.

No. I do save, but I've tried all the major savings schemes such as Tessas and Isas - and they were absolutely useless.

Yes, I'm patron of quite a few. I contribute financially to Oxfam, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and several animal charities.

I'd once finished a show and took about 20 people to a restaurant. The bill came to around £1,000, which I paid and left a £200 tip.

Quite a few TV appearances. I was once on a panel show and when I saw the recording, I looked glazed.

In the early stages of my career, there were a few moments. I went to the bank for a loan and the manager said: 'Haven't you got a slush fund?' I said that I hadn't and I had only £30 in my pocket.

A Toyota Prius. It cost about £17,000, and is so good on petrol that I can't remember which side of the car the fuel cap is on.

My wife and I got married in Indonesia and came back to Britain to have a blessing. I called it a blessing in disguise. Soon afterwards I was watching horse racing on TV and there was this horse with precisely that name. I rushed off to the betting shop and put £5 on it. It was all I had on me at the time. It won at 14-1.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill Bailey - Chain Reaction

download 22mb mp3

This is Bill on a show called 'Chain Reaction' in which a comedian interviews another comedian. He's interviewed by Lenny Henry.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill Bailey banned from driving
March 06 2009

Bill Bailey has been banned from driving for six months after he was caught speeding on his way to a gig. The 43-year-old from Keynsham was on his way to a performance at the Eden Project when he was clocked in his Volvo going 40mph in a 30 limit.

Magistrates in Lis- keard, Cornwall, disqualified him because he already had 12 points on his licence. The court heard there had been confusion over the comic's driving record and court attendance because an elderly neighbour in London had hoarded some of his post.

Bailey's solicitor told the court the mix up led to him being unaware of a summons over the speeding offence, and he was convicted in his absence. The case was adjourned following the conviction on December 10 and Bailey appeared on Thursday for sentencing.

The star spoke only to give his real name, Mark Bailey, his age and his address at Hammersmith Grove, London.


racking up so many points is just careless - you'd almost think he was an airy-fairy hippie!
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Comedian and lifelong QPR fan Bill Bailey speaks exclusively to QPR: The Official Magazine in our summer issue.
3rd July 2009

The legendary comic loves nothing more than a quick chin-wag about the beautiful game, but as QPR: The Official Magazine discovered, his quirky, humorous side is never far away.

So why did he grow up following the Super Hoops?
"My first flat in London was in Queens Park, and I have a lingering affection for the place," he told us. "What intrigued me was there was no sign of any football; there wasn't much of a park; and as for the Queen, well, she was never there. Where is this Queen's Park and where are the Rangers? It was a little puzzle I had to solve. I've been in West London ever since and I always like to 'shop local,' so it had to be Rangers. I now live in Hammersmith."

read the full article in the QPR magazine...
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The REAL Twitter
Bill Bailey to host birdwatching series

Bill Bailey is set to become the next Bill Oddie, fronting a show about birdwatching for Sky One. The six-part Bill Bailey's Big Bird Watch, is part of the channel’s autumn and winter lineup, and will feature different celebrity twitchers each week.

Over the series, the comic will explore ‘glorious British landscapes and rare native birds’, according to programme-makers Fever. Bailey said: ‘It will be great fun - highly competitive, really informative and very, very beautiful. I'm really excited to be involved.


Here's hoping the producers train him up to be a LOT better at presenting than he was in the doc about Stonehenge...
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2009 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why has Bill Bailey written a guide to the orchestra?
Bill Bailey’s Guide to the Orchestra is an attempt to harmonise genial fun with serious musicology
Hugh Pearman
November 8, 2009

Television does strange things to some people, but not to Bill Bailey. In person, he looks and sounds exactly as he does on the telly. We’ve grown accustomed to his face, and so, it appears, has Chris de Burgh, butt of many of Bailey’s routines. “I’m told he did an interview where he said I was very ugly. And balding,” Bailey recalls as we sit outside his local pub in west London. “I’m still reeling.” Considering that, in one routine, Bailey has a picture of Osama Bin Laden morphing into the face of de Burgh, that seems a thoroughly restrained reaction by the beetle-browed singer.

That is about as barbed as Bailey gets, however. His spoofs are usually affectionate — and always alarmingly accurate. His absurdist condensed rock operas, Insect Nation and Leg of Time, for instance, might just as well be the real 1970s thing. He is an amiable cove. He doesn’t swear on stage or in interview. And although, as a team captain on the television pop quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks, he played up to a hippie image, Bill Bailey is not an invented character. Beyond the fact that his real name is Mark. “It’s easier,” he admits. “Steve Coogan once congratulated me on the slightly mad character I played on stage, who thought insects were going to take over the world. He said I should work on that character. But it was just me. I think like that.”

Bailey seems to be in a bit of a career shift at the moment. Although his passport says “comedian” rather than “musician” (too much trouble at customs with the latter, he says), he seems to be leaning more towards musicianship. Now 45, after years of sell-out tours, three series of the sitcom Black Books and various stage appearances, including a Pinter miscellany, he is returning to one of his side projects: Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra.

We’re familiar with Bailey playing keyboards, guitars, even that weird early-20th-century proximity-sensor electronic instrument, the theremin. He can hold a tune, too. But he’s happy to admit that he can’t bow strings, and even he can’t impersonate an entire orchestra on his own. Hence the Remarkable Guide, which started life as a Comic Relief radio special in 2007 and last year enjoyed a three-night live outing at the Albert Hall, later televised. Now he’s stepping it up another gear with a dozen performances in England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, which kicked off last week at Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre.

Bailey becomes the genial master of ceremonies, working with a full symphony orchestra conducted by Anne Dudley. “Anne’s name had appeared on so many albums I’d owned — she’d arranged the strings on ABC’s The Lexicon of Love, composed lots of film and TV music, and been in the Art of Noise. I’d seen her perform in the 1980s. They did a lot of sampling of voices, and that became an inspiration for some sampling I did much later in my stand-up.” In other words, Dudley is well up for playing around with received notions of what musicians can do, and Bailey, with his analysis of 1970s cop-show theme music or mucking around with cowbells, is fine by her. For instance, they upturn the Carnival of the Animals notion with their Cavalcade of the Unloved. It’s Dudley’s task to express, say, a swarm of locusts or jellyfish, musically, while Bailey does the commentary. He gets almost misty-eyed when he recalls the first time he heard the full orchestral take on one of his old standards — the Doctor Who theme tune reinterpreted as a Jacques Brel-style ballad, and renamed Dr Qui.

There are plenty of good moments in the Remarkable Guide — Bailey as a newsreader getting his timing disastrously wrong when reading the headlines between the bongs of News at Ten, for instance, a gag that’s a lot harder work than it looks. Indeed, the whole section on the music for news programmes is a joy. Did you know that the ultra-staccato Panorama theme sounds pretty much identical played backwards or forwards? Bailey has to splice his humour into the mindsets of no fewer than eight orchestras on this tour. Comic timing (or deliberate mistiming) in these circumstances is tricky. “It takes months. The key to it is preparation. All the calibrations of the joke have to be written into the score.”

We can expect a more streamlined show this time round, he says. He’s going to be cutting out some familiar routines to concentrate more on providing a proper guide to the orchestra, instrument by instrument. Watching him evoke the characters of particular instruments, such as the oboe, harp or trombone, turns him into the world’s funniest music teacher.

Does he feel any affinity with the great Gerard Hoffnung, comic classical-music whimsy merchant of the 1950s, who liked nothing better than placing vacuum cleaners and floor polishers in a symphony orch­estra? “There’s a bit of channelling of Hoffnung,” Bailey concedes. “When I was first approached by the BBC Concert Orchestra, I think the players thought that I would dress them up in silly costumes, make them play hosepipes and chairs and things, like Hoffnung. When it wasn’t like that, there was a noticeable shift in their attitude. There was some respect for the fact that I was a proper musician as well, who was actually going to celebrate what they did.”

Bailey doesn’t do jokes in the traditional sense. He’s the man for quirks and strangenesses. His gift is to lay bare almost forensically what a particular instrument or passage of music is doing. It’s only a semitone off being a rather serious business. But this is Bill Bailey, so it’s more like a circus. Do you know, I think he’s close to becoming a proper old-fashioned family entertainer. It’s perhaps his bravest move yet.

Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra tours until December 14; the DVD of the show is out on November 23
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Going back to his roots: Bill Bailey injects some humour into music
The comedian discusses his remarkable guide to the orchestra...
By The Editor
27 November 2009
The Independent

How did you entertain yourself growing up in the small town of Keynsham in Somerset?

Well, there's the river at the bottom of our hill, and if you really got the right weight and the right trajectory you could chuck an apple and it would land in the river, so me and my cousin would do that to scare the fishermen! Our house was at the bottom of Wellesley, and across the road was the Chinese takeaway, next door was The New Inn and across the road was The Talbot... so that was Friday night sorted. Just past the New Inn there's a little, sloping park which goes down to the river and I remember taking a go kart down there once and nearly ending up in the river. Then there's Keynsham park - we used to hang out there under the bypass and shout.

I went back there recently and I have to say it looked quite sad really, it was quite small, quite a dull-looking place, there's nothing in particular you can commend it on. Everything looks smaller and drabber than I remember it as a kid - I remember it seeming like a world of opportunity with parks and rivers.

Bizarrely it's having a bit of a renaissance now, and there's even a music festival there. It's odd but it's one of those places that's become a kind of cult. It was immortalised in the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band songs and when I got to play with the Bonzos on their reunion tour, singing about Keynsham was like coming full circle. It's not as I remembered it - everything's smaller and not as exciting - but I'd love to go back there and do the festival.

What came first - the comedy or the music?

Music! I started to learn the piano at the age of four, then learnt music at school and taught myself the guitar - I just loved it and had an affinity for it. But at the same time I loved the comedy on TV like Les Dawson. I was taken to see a play when I was very young and I don't remember much about it but I'll always remember at one point in the play Jimmy Edwards turned and addressed the audience and came totally out of character and I thought it was crazy, it was anarchy! It got the biggest reaction of the night, and I always think things like that are key moments in your memory when you realise that comedy has that way of causing chaos.

Have some comedians overstepped the mark in trying to be controversial?

I think it's all a bit contrived to be honest, it's offensive only in context. When I say chaos I mean something which breaks a barrier, it makes people think in different ways. It polarises audiences - some people get offended by it, some people don't, and comedy's always been like that. Jimmy Carr did a joke about disabled people who'd lost limbs [in the war], and his defence was that the soldiers themselves make those jokes and use that kind of comedy in the battlefield.

But that's in the context of being at war, and if you're all together in that situation then humour can be a really powerful way of dealing with those extreme situations - I think in any walk of life where there's hardship, black humour is a great way of lightening the mood and boosting morale and a sense of comradery. But transplanting that humour and putting it into the context of stand-up comedy, it somehow feels wrong.

Why did you leave Never Mind The Buzzcocks?

At the time I was on tour in Australia then I was on tour back here with the orchestra, so I couldn't do some of the shows. Normally it would have been ok, but the BBC changed the schedule and brought it all forward by about six weeks without telling anyone so I couldn't do half of the gigs and in the end I thought you know what, maybe now is the time just to say 'I've done 100 shows, I've got these other things to do' and working with an orchestra is quite a big opportunity that won't always be there. So I pursued that instead, it just felt natural.

How did working with the orchestra come about?

I was approached by the BBC concert orchestra to collaborate on a show for Comic Relief two years ago, but I didn't really know what form it was going to take as they were working with soloists and different instrumentalists and stand-ups... so really the show is a mish-mash of different things, a bit of me, a bit of the orchestra, a bit of Anne [Dudley]'s stuff.

What I felt really worked were the sections which felt like a guide, describing the orchestra and how it works, how it fits together, and then applying the orchestra to familiar situations where you wouldn't necessarily hear one, like a melodramatic moment in Eastenders, maybe somebody leaving the Square. I just thought it would be great to have this Brief Encounter style romantic score to accomapny these moments, and to work with some film and TV music - music that people are familiar with but have probably never heard played live, like theme tunes and recreating 1970's cop shows.

Do you think young people are losing touch with music?

No, I think there's more variety available now than ever before, but I do think that there's a slight preconception about classical music and orchestras - there's a a whiff of stuffiness and elitism about it. I think a lot of people just think 'it's not for me' and so don't go to see concerts, and also I think that, bizarrely, filming concerts like the Proms makes orchestras look quite static and serious. When you see rock music it's exciting! It's a very powerful medium to see and hear rock music, and classical music always looks a little bit dry. The aim of the show is to hopefully get people to take an interest that wouldn't necessarily think a classical concert is for them. Hearing an orchestra live for the first time blows people away. Perhaps people have never really imagined how loud it is, how vital it is - it's air moving around you, it's not on a record or CD, it's there in a room in front of you.

What kind of feedback have you had on the show?

It's been really encouraging, loads of kids from about ten upwards coming to the show and really enjoying it. Some of them are comedy fans who are curious to see what it is, some of them are regular concert goers who like it because it's something different. It's a kind of show they've never seen before. There aren't many shows where there's spoken word between the music, and you can see people are a bit wary of it at first. Orchestras are wary of it - they thought I was going to make them dress up in silly costumes and play hosepipes... actually, that's not a bad idea!
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill Bailey on music, marriage and the moment he refused to sell out
He wooed his wife with love letters. He plays every instrument under the sun. And he lives in a menagerie. What's not to like about Bill Bailey?
Interview by Charlotte Philby
5 December 2009

I have been in love with Bill Bailey for some time now. So when it transpires that our interview will take place at a bar so close to his home that once the allotted time is up, he could feasibly launch himself from his seat and land back on his sofa with his wife and son within seconds, with nothing more to show for his efforts than a couple of smashed window panes, it's a blow. None the less, I dry my eyes, raise a smile, and head to the west-London gastropub for 5.40pm, as arranged.

Bailey arrives moments later. He is friendly and polite, and briefly scours the bar menu before ordering a large glass of merlot and a plate of lamb kofta. His food arrives and he nibbles and laughs and jokes between mouthfuls, and all is going very nicely indeed until, several gulps later, the conversation leaps from a mutual appreciation of the clearance rails at TK Maxx to British politics – and with this untraceable digression, the comedian's entire demeanour shifts: his previously animated face crumples forward in his hands, silver rings pressing hard against his forehead.

I begin to wonder whether a long day promoting his latest tour on various radio shows has taken its toll. Or perhaps the tortuous ambient beats which spill out from speakers at every corner of the pub have done him in. For a few moments he lays there; all that is visible of the usually charismatic 44-year-old is the top of his head, with that semi-circle of hair swaying at his shoulders.

Then, without warning, he is back to life, with a tirade against the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Yvette Cooper, and her Tory Shadow, Theresa May, whose name he spits as if ejecting an olive stone from between his teeth. He is explaining why, having been at the Radio 4 studio that morning while the pair had been conducting an on-air debate, he will no longer be voting at the next general election: "They were going: 'Ne ne ne ne neeee!'" he demonstrates with two flailing hands, thumb and forefinger pinched into crab shapes. Mid-flow, he stops, and takes another slurp. Without looking up, he stabs a fork at his plate, chews, swallows, licks his lips and politely dabs a napkin along his perfectly triangular goatee. "So I just can't really be bothered," he finishes, placing his elbows square on the table, raising those huge quizzical eyes with a slightly alarming grin.

It's difficult not to love Bill Bailey. Even if we were holding our meeting somewhere really exciting, crammed with really exciting people, rather than here, in a near-empty gastropub in Hammersmith, he would, no doubt, still be the most interesting feature in the room. Even if he didn't have a physique which inspired the name of his show Part Troll; even if he wasn't sat before me this evening in a pin-stripe suit jacket and a bright white T-shirt with the head of a gorilla in headphones emblazoned on the front; even if he wasn't waving his arms enthusiastically at any given opportunity, it would still be a stretch not to want him to be my friend.

There is, above all, something irresistibly contagious about Bailey's passion for music, which rises to the point of spontaneous combustion during his live shows, as he bounds across the stage colliding with various instruments – at one point hammering out an imitation of a 1970s cop-show theme tune from his piano stool, swiftly followed by the Bee Gees' "Staying Alive" from his bassoon. "Bassoon players are actually obsessed by the Bee Gees," Bailey announced at a recent performance as he prepared to take up his next tune on the motion-censored Theremin. "For many years they have been incorporating the Bee Gees into classical works." He is, simply, a musical prodigy; other than cello and violin, he is unable to name a single instrument he cannot play; from the age of four, he'd spend hours at the piano, encouraged by his mother, who'd sit on the back of the sofa and listen to him tinkle away. Academically, he verges on genius too, achieving top marks at his private school in Bath with very little effort.

Bill Bailey was actually born Mark. A music teacher at school gave him the nickname, due to his ability to play the jazz song "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey" on the guitar, and it stuck. He was an only child, raised in the town of Keynsham, an unremarkable spot somewhere between Bristol and Bath, by his mum, a nurse, and his dad, a GP, with his maternal grandparents living in an annex of the same house.

In 2005, Bailey's mother died. "That year, and the year after that and I think the year after that, I was in a bit of a daze," he says. "You just think your parents are always going to be there." Even though his mother's cancer was terminal, the shock of her death was still devastating. "Before it happened, I expended so much energy thinking I must be able to sort this out," he recalls. "There was a terrible, slow, drawn-out inevitability to it all." He was locked into doing a show when she passed away. "I look back now," he continues, "and I don't know what the hell I was doing. I was going through the motions, not really engaging in anything."

As a teenager, Bailey says, "I'd gravitated towards people whose family life wasn't as ordered as mine, to those with younger parents, and a more relaxed home environment than my own." His adolescence synchronised with the emergence of punk. "When I was 15, I went to see the Stranglers at Bath Pavilion," he recalls. "I saw Jean-Jacques Burnel take off his bass and whack a skinhead over the head with it because he gave a Nazi salute. I thought: 'This is brilliant!'" Not long after, he joined a band, Behind Closed Doors, and with that, any commitment to school work went out the window. Then came the new-wave era and "appalling memories" of Spandau Ballet and his "short spiky-blond" hair-do. At present, he is planning a final blow-out before total baldness sets in: "A Hoxton mohawk, perhaps."

When he does, Bailey will simply call upon his very nice hairdresser, who visits him at his very large, very grand home, which stands back from an affluent, tree-lined street in Hammersmith. Along with a parrot, a chameleon, an unspecified number of cats, a few fish, two starlings, a guinea-pig, a rabbit and four dogs – three of which he rescued as puppies and had shipped over from their native Indonesia – Bailey also shares his home with his wife, Kristin, and their five-year-old son, Dax. What's it like inside? "It's a one-bedroom flat," he replies, deadpan. "There's straw on the floor and we shuffle around eating pineapple out of tins."

So then, to Bailey's wife, Kristin. The pair met at one of Bill's gigs in 1987. She was running a bar in Edinburgh. He was drawn to her "wild spirit", and pursued his wife-to-be via a daily letter for 12 months before they finally got together in 1988; 10 years later, they married on a whim, in Indonesia. "We were travelling around Asia and sailed into a place called Banda, with a beautiful lagoon, and a smoking volcano on one side and a Dutch colonial fort, an old church and remains of a little town on the other. We decided to get married there and then," he recalls.

Today, Kristin, a former costume designer, handles her husband's business affairs. Until relatively recently, one can't imagine it would have been much of a job. In the late Eighties, Bailey was trudging his not entirely successful stand-up routines up and down the country, performing with the likes of Mark Lamarr to markedly empty comedy clubs. In 1994, he performed the show Rock at the Edinburgh Festival with Sean Lock, with no more success – one night there was only a single face in the audience, that of Dominic Holland, a fellow comedian. At that stage, Bailey says he nearly gave it all up for a career in telesales. And it wasn't for want of trying that this plan failed – after two weeks selling advertising space, he was sacked for refusing to wear a tie.

Before that, Bailey had been something of a drifter. "In my twenties, I floated around for years," he recalls, "doing the odd theatre job but mainly leading a hedonistic lifestyle, getting intoxicated in plenty of different ways in plenty of different places." Ultimately, travel has given him a sense of appreciation for what it is to live in the UK. "Life is cheap in most of the world," he says. "I feel angry about it all the time. In India, a bus goes over a cliff and it's: 'Hey, tough! Never mind!' It makes you value the kind of structured, civilised ways we live our lives in this country."

Today, Bill Bailey is doing rather nicely. Following a breakthrough role, in 2000, in the television sitcom Black Books, alongside Dylan Moran and Tamsin Greig, he had a long-running captaincy on Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Last year he quit the show. Officially, because of a conflict in schedules, although at a recent gig in Bristol, he made a pointed comment about the feckless indie kids who feature in the programme. Now he is in his element, touring his most spectacular gig to date: Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra, which has been "the fulfilment of a life-time ambition". In this, accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra, Bailey celebrates the power of various musical instruments, one by one – at one point describing the role of the oboe through the history of the Emmerdale theme tune. It packed out London's Royal Albert Hall and various venues around the country, and moves to the 02 in Greenwich next week.

When he's not working, Bailey enjoys the simple things, like shopping in TK Maxx, and bird-watching: "As I get older, I have a very strong urge to know about stuff," he says. "I want to learn the names of trees and birds; that's the sort of knowledge I want to pass on to my son." He enjoys spending time with his five-year-old – picking him up from school, taking him to swimming lessons and piano classes. Like his father, Dax – who was named after a child Bill and Kristin met in Indonesia, not the German stock exchange or a hair product or a parasitical worm – has a great affinity with the piano. "I'm ashamed to say, it's without practising either," Bailey adds. "He just turns up and there it is, just as it was for me."

On the rare occasion that he is neither touring nor hanging out with Dax, Bailey might well be found at a Bikram yoga class in nearby Chiswick. A slightly incongruous hobby, which came about thanks to his former personal trainer, "a man who is inordinately clumsy for someone so fit. He was permanently in plaster, having come off his bike or fallen down the stairs or banged his head." All the same, he heeded his trainer's advice and now attends exercise classes in which a group of bodies, largely female, take on a series of contorted positions in a room heated to melting point. Funnily enough, he loves it. "At yoga you get some sense of spiritual space so that people don't intrude," he says. "You can go there and close your eyes and no one will talk to you. People are too worried about not fainting to bother with some bloke who was on the telly."

At several points during our conversation, Bailey brings up his experience with relatively new-found fame. He says he enjoys touring European cities where, unlike here, he can move around largely unnoticed. But he insists that he is still a cult figure. He doesn't want to be seen as part of popular culture, something which can be packaged and sold off. It's an aversion which becomes all-too-apparent when Bailey launches a scathing attack on the supermarket chain Asda, who recently approached him to appear in their advertising campaign.

"What annoyed me about that is that they thought they could just buy my popularity!" he spits, clearly rather cross. "They thought: 'He's a popular guy, people like him. We'll buy that off him and use it to make ourselves look nice and popular and lovely.' It was like: 'What's your price? Here's money. Here's a shit load of money. Here's loads more money!'" So how much did they offer him? "Many hundreds of thousands. They offered me £300,000 on the table there and then. 'Here you go, boom.'" He drops his hand hard on the table. "And I was intrigued. I went: 'Oh, tell me more' – like, never in a million years was I going to do it, but basically, they would have doubled it.

"Part of me thinks I should have taken it and no one would have batted an eyelid, you know?" With that, Bailey lets out a big, heavy sigh, as if the weight of the world has just been dropped on his shoulders. It seems he might collapse back on to the table-top at any moment, and is clearly in need of a big old hug, but then the waiter arrives to remove his empty plate. "Thank you so much," Bailey says, straightening his back, giving his head a swift shake. Without looking up, he dabs a napkin along his upper lip, places it neatly on the table. Finally he lifts his head and smiles. "So that was that."

'Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra' will be at London's 02 on Friday. A DVD recording of the performance is available at
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's Bill on Sky News about 20 minutes ago.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill Bailey on Nanny McPhee's big day out
By Nick Curtis,
Evening Standard

Think of the hubbub of your average West End premiere. Now imagine it multiplied 15-fold. This Sunday afternoon, Emma Thompson's Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang debuts simultaneously in 15 cinemas across the capital, from Wandsworth to Wood Green, in the first London Film Day.

Families who attend the staggered screenings can meet members of the cast and production team, take part in film-making workshops and win the chance to tour Ealing and Pinewood Studios, among other goodies. The event, conceived by the Mayor, Film London and the BFI London Film Festival, celebrates the city's role as a location, a centre of production generating £13.6 billion a year for the economy and, above all, as a place for families to watch movies.

“It's such a fantastic idea,” says Bill Bailey, who co-stars in the film. “It spreads the excitement and sense of occasion of a premiere all over London, and means so many more families can go.”

The 45-year-old comedian and TV fixture, a musical polymath who has most recently deployed his talent to enthuse in the areas of classical concerts and birdwatching, will be at the Vue in Westfield with one of the film's child stars.

“Presenting the film adds a live element to cinema, heightens the expectation,” he adds. “My lad [Dax] is six and he's coming along with his pals. He discovered the original Nanny McPhee, and loved it, just as he was getting into stories that were more complex than kids' TV or cartoons. They're moral tales, little fables, these films, but with a slightly surreal twist. And brilliantly funny scripts, of course.”

As in the first film, the sequel sees Thompson's titular, grotesque nanny magically turn up to help a distressed parent. In this case, Maggie Gyllenhaal is coping with three rowdy kids and their two snooty cousins, plus the possible loss of her mud-drenched farm, while her husband is away at war. Bailey plays their genial, Somerset-accented neighbour, who finds himself purchasing five synchronised-swimming pigs.

“Not a huge stretch, playing a West Country farmer,” he concedes, sticking out his beard and shaking his receding mane. “My father was a rural GP in that part of the country, so we had a lot of farmers coming to the door all the time, bringing us rabbits and pheasants. Or vermin, as they called them.”

The film, he says, was a barrel of laughs, with the director Susanna White and Thompson herself — the scriptwriter as well as the star — encouraging everyone to improvise.

“Because there were kids around there was an ice-cream van on set, lots of fun stuff to do,” he says, “and with animals you get to meet their handlers and trainers, fascinating people with the most arcane jobs. I had to learn to drive a horse and cart, so that's another skill I'm now proficient in. Well, I say proficient … On the actual day of filming they gave me this huge cart and this huge, placid carthorse which wouldn't move anywhere. I was all set to go a bit western on him — Yah! Yah! — but then I realised that if he bolted he'd probably take out 50 small children and pigs.”

The last time I interviewed Bailey, 10 years ago, he'd just played a rural drug dealer in another British film, Saving Grace (also not a huge stretch, given his bewildered hobbit/roadie persona). Since those days, Bailey has graduated from the stand-up circuit to arena tours, West End residencies and primetime TV.

But he likes to take the occasional big screen role, he says, “because of the global reach of films, and the permanence of them: they are there for all time, unlike stand-up which is by its nature ephemeral”. That said, he likes the disposability of comedy too and gets itchy if he hasn't played live for a while: the day after we meet he's performing at an adolescent mental health unit in east London, and he'll be touring a show about science later this year.

The ever-struggling British film industry has come on in the past decade, we agree, in terms of capitalising on its talents at home and abroad, and in cutting through red tape. The perfect illustration is Bailey's next film, Burke and Hare, a serio-comic take on the tale of the 19th-century grave robbers directed by American legend John Landis with a British cast including Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis. (Bailey plays a hangman — more beardy typecasting — and his son Dax was co-opted during a set visit to play an urchin. “I told him, you've got to start somewhere. You can't go straight in to the dizzy heights of playing farmers.”)

The sort of relaxed shoots in prime London locations that Burke and Nanny McPhee enjoyed were well-nigh impossible until Film London began to finesse the bureaucracy. Landis told Bailey that when he was making American Werewolf in London in 1981, he couldn't get official permission for the climactic scene in Piccadilly Circus. “He ended up doing a special screening of the Blues Brothers for the commissioner, and on the day a friendly bobby turned a blind eye while he brought the wolf in and staged the car crashes,” marvels Bailey.

But if the film industry is getting its act together, the same is not true of all our cultural institutions. He thinks the BBC is wrong to be running scared of Daily Mail readers and “pulling in its horns”, and believes it should take more risks rather than concern itself with politically correct staff moves to Manchester. He's not even sure that British comedy is in a particularly healthy state.

“There's a tendency for comedy to be quite harsh and abrasive at the moment,” he says. “I understand that. We are sick of politicians and bankers and we want comedians to nail them on our behalf. But after a while you wonder if by just undermining things, you are part of the problem.

Comedy is an extremely powerful and pervasive part of the cultural scene now: it's like a juggernaut.” He adopts a radio-serial voice. “Why not use that power for good, rather than evil?”

For details of the 15 cinemas premiering Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, and the other events of London Film Day this Sunday, go to
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PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill Bailey talks to The Buteman
Comic explains thinking behind Rothesay show
05 May 2010
Craig Borland

BILL BAILEY'S stand up shows regularly sell out at major venues not just in the UK, but across the world. So when details were announced of a tour visiting such bustling metropolitan hotspots as Ullapool, Drumnadrochit and, yes, Rothesay, one very simple question presents itself: why?

"It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, and never had the opportunity," he says. "Over the years I've always tried to fit in little tours of places I don't normally play, and because of TV or touring commitments and general logistics I've never been able to fit it all in. Then this year I realised I had this window of opportunity before going off to tour Australia and New Zealand.

"I'd been filming on Mull (for Bill Bailey's Birdwatching Bonanza, broadcast on Sky earlier this year], and I was standing at Craignure looking out at a sea like a millpond in a beautiful light - and I thought what a stunning part of the world it is, and how I'd never been able to really spend any time here. So I decided the way to see all these places would be to do a tour. I think playing in small venues, and entertaining people in all kinds of places all around the world, is something comedians have to do now and again - that's your job, and you can't forget that."

Bailey's stand-up shows, for those who haven't seen them, are a curious mix of wry observation and whimsical flights of fancy - with a generous smattering of musical interludes along the way. His lifelong passion for music reached something of a zenith with his 2008 Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra, a production which took orchestral music into a whole new arena - and won the genre a new legion of followers along the way.

"It made me even more grateful for this job that I do," he says, because being a professional musician can actually be quite limiting in terms of the job you have to do as part of an ensemble, whereas I can do anything I want. Professional orchestras' timetables are so busy, and so tightly drilled, that you only have a very limited time to rehearse, so you have no choice but to be highly disciplined about what you do - you run one minute over time, and everyone's gone.

"So it was quite an eye-opener in a way, but it was great fun, and a fantastic experience - and it was just sensational to play with these great orchestras. It really made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck."

As for his TV work, he is somewhat guarded when I ask if he'll ever return as a team captain on Never Mind The Buzzcocks - though he admits the idea of being a 'guest host' holds a certain appeal. And then there are his regular appearances as a panellist on QI - a show which offers plenty of evidence that TV programmes in the 21st century needn't always dumb down to be popular.

"I think QI's popularity does disprove that notion," he says, "and shows that if you treat audiences with a bit of respect and don't underestimate them you will be rewarded. I've certainly never tried to underestimate people in my own work, and I don't think there's any point in pandering to them. There's a lot of comedy and TV around, and I try to hold on to my little niche - and I'm fortunate that that pays dividends. People, I find, appreciate that they've been made to think."

Bailey's CV also includes a growing list of film appearances - he appears as Farmer MacReadie in Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, starring alongside Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor, Maggie Smith and many others, and also has a role in John Landis's new black comedy about the Edinburgh grave robbers Burke and Hare.

So does he see a place for himself as a star in the glittering Hollywood firmament? Er, probably not.

"It was great fun to be a part of Nanny McPhee," he says, "but I never got to the point where I started to think I was a film star. The moment you do that your mind starts to play tricks on you, telling you that you need a big trailer and someone to bring you a choice of cheeses. With Burke and Hare, meeting John Landis was fantastic, because his films represent so many milestones in my own life. I was a bit over-awed, actually, but he was great - exactly like you'd imagine him. My audition lasted for three minutes but I stayed talking with him for an hour."

Despite his growing big-screen fame, Bailey appears to have no desire to turn his back on his stand-up shows. So what, I wonder, is in store for his Rothesay audience in three weeks' time?

"My stand-up stuff is a bit of a mixture of stories, anecdotes and lots of music," he says. "That's my particular niche, although this show has 'doubt' as a bit of a theme - the concept is cropping up more and more these days, especially with climate change science, ash clouds and what have you. The history of doubt, and how it's been a counterpoint to the certainty of things like religious faith, is particularly personal to me because I'm still intrigued - I'm very envious of people who know exactly where they are and what they want, because I've never felt that myself.

"I feel as if I still haven't decided what I want to do when I grow up. Perhaps I'll even get a proper job one day..."

* Bill Bailey Live is at Rothesay Pavilion on Thursday, May 27 at 7.30pm.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill Bailey, right on key
This hard-working British comedian is so over the Hobbit, writes Kylie Northover.
June 23, 2010

BRITISH comedian Bill Bailey touched down in Melbourne yesterday before his New Zealand and Australian tour, which takes in more than 20 performances. No mean feat for a man who has just completed a similar-sized tour of Britain, including a huge gig on the weekend. But the Black Books star was in fine form when Melbourne Life shared an Earl Grey tea with him.

''I'm not jetlagged at all,'' he said. ''I think it's because I can sleep on planes now. I used to get childishly excited - looking out the window, getting all the free stuff, watching all the films - but that's worn off now. You get that slightly heightened emotional sense on planes when you haven't had much sleep and you've had a couple of drinks. I was once watching Beauty and the Beast and I actually got a bit tearful towards the end. The hostess came past and asked, 'Are you all right, sir?' and I said, [voice cracking] 'yes, but … she's so beautiful and he loves her …'. So these days, for my own dignity, it's best to go to sleep.''

Bailey's new show, simply called Bill Bailey Live, focuses on doubt and uncertainty. But you can guarantee that once he lands in New Zealand, the foremost question on interviewers' and fans' lips will be ''Are you going to star in The Hobbit''?

Bailey's fans have been agitating for him to star in the film ever since the somewhat beleaguered production was announced years ago. ''Oh, god, The Hobbit. They bloody love it in New Zealand, don't they?'' He says he has had a meeting - ''with the proper filmmakers, not the guys doing the Facebook page'' - but isn't even sure himself it's going to happen. ''I just want a yes or no at this point. It's like the actual quest for the ring itself, it's dragging on so long,'' he says. ''I might just do my own one-man Hobbit show. I'll play everything. I think it'll be a musical, too. I'd go and see that.''

Now he's said that, how long before a new Facebook campaign takes shape? ''Facebook campaigns and petitions are really starting to bug me now. I can't do anything without a campaign starting up - it's just getting in the way, really,'' he says.

In a typical Baileyesque tangent, discussion turns to the Freemasons, and the idea that perhaps his fans could agitate for him to be admitted. ''I'd love to get into the Masons via a Facebook page, let's see if we can do that,'' he says. ''How many Masons are left anyway? About seven? Wanna be in a secret society? We can't tell you anything about it. But if you join, we can - will that do? Secret society, come on!''

Bailey has, after all, just had a plant named after him - Nepenthes x Bill Bailey, a hybrid form of a Filipino and Sumatran carnivore. - surely enough to get him into a lodge. ''It's so cool, I've been immortalised in plant form. The full Latin name is Nepenthes Spathulata, which sounds a bit like a disease,'' he says. ''Some cultivators in Sri Lanka told me they were naming it after me in recognition of my conservation in Sumatra. I'm so chuffed,'' he says. ''And it's not a rose or a wussy daisy - it's a scary thing that consumes insects!''

Part of the thrill, he says, was being able to get into last month's Chelsea Flower Show. ''It was a real buzz - you can't get in there for love nor money, but if you get a plant named after you, well, they've gotta let you in,'' he says. ''It was like being a rock star. I got to meet Rolf Harris and some royalty. I didn't meet the Queen though. I'm hoping she'll have Bill Bailey in her hothouse.''

Will we one day be able to pop down to the local nursery and buy a couple? ''I hope so, imagine that: 'Yeah thanks mate, I'll have a couple of Bill Baileys'. Brilliant.''

See Bill Bailey live at the Palais Theatre, July 17, 18, 19 and 20.
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