January 13, 1964
|Current nation of residence||
Hammersmith, London, UK
1989 - present
|In Black Books|
Bailey was born on January 13, 1964, in Bath and was raised in Keynsham, a town between Bath and Bristol. The only child of a hospital ward sister and a general practitioner, he lived in a house which also doubled as his father's surgery. Bailey attended King Edward's School in Bath, in which he was considered a gifted student with a skill for learning. However, at the age of 15, he began to drift away from acedemics and towards music and performing in the school band, Behind Closed Doors.
However, he remained in school and was the only student to study A-level music and passed with an A-grade. He was also a talented sportsmen, and was captain of the KES 2nd XI cricket team in 1982. He earned his nickname Bill by his music teacher, Ian Phillips, as he was so good as playing the song, Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey. After school, he briefly attended Westfield College, however, he left a year later.
In his earlier years, he performed with a band entitled The Famous Five, who Bailey admits was very bad and unusually had only four members. However, he continued to pursue a career in music and received an Associateship Diploma from the London College of Music as well as being made an honorary member of the Society of Crematorium Organists. However, he always felt an urge to add jokes and comedy into his musical performances, which influenced him to pursue a career in comedy.
He had a variety of jobs before becoming a comedian, including a hotel lounge pianist, a crementorium organist and a musician for a mind-reading dog, and even claims to have been a door-to-door door salesman.
Career in stand-up comedyEdit
Bailey began to perform stand-up comedy, and toured the country with comedians such as Mark Lamarr. In 1986, he formed a comedy double act with fellow King Edward's School pupil Toby Longworth, who was later replaced by Martin Stubbs in 1988. They achieved a certain amount of success in the comedy circuit with their off-the-wall musical act, and followed a rigourous schedule, sometimes performing three or four gigs a night. It was here that Bailey developed his own unique style of comedy, with musical parodies and disections of various traditional jokes. When a critic complained that the act was short on jokes, Bailey returned to the stage the following night and performed a routine comprised entirely of punchlines.
After Stubbs left the act, Bailey joined fellow comedian Sean Lock, and performed a show entitled Rock, about an aging rockstar and his roadie. The show did not prove popular and Bailey turned solo in 1995 and started performing his one-man show, Cosmic Jam. This time, the show impressed audiences, and was recorded at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London and was later broadcasted in 1996 on Channel 4. Only after Bailey earned international status was the show released on DVD in 2005.
After winning a Time Out, he was nominated for a Perrier Award, and was beaten by Black Books co-star Dylan Moran by the narrowest margin in the award's history. Bailey went on to win the Best Live Stand-Up award at the British Comedy Awards in 1999.
In 2001, Bailey toured the globe with his sell-out tour, Bewilderness, which thrusted him into the public eye and earned him a wide fanbase. In the show, Bailey parodied such theme tunes as The Magic Roundabout and Countdown, and demonstrated his unique style of disecting traditional jokes. A DVD of the show was recorded in Swansea and the show also proved popular in America.
In 2003, Bailey performed his next show, Part Troll, which proved popular with critics and fans alike. He first performed it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, before transferring it to the West End, where tickets sold out in less than 24 hours and the show had to be extended. He then toured the globe with the show, performing in such countries as America, Australia and New Zealand. The show sees the first appearance of Bailey's political humour, in which he gives his comical views on the Iraq war and George Bush.
2006 saw Bailey performing his next show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, entitled Steampunk. Despite expectations of it being the fastest selling show in the festival's history, a ticketing mix up meant that the last 10% of tickets had to be sold in person, meaning that the show sold out at a slower pace then it should have.
Bailey then performed three sell-out nights of his next show, Tinselworm, in Manchester, which culminated in the Wembley Arena. In October 2008, he performed Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra, a mix of clasiical music and comedy, at the Royal Albert Hall with the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Anne Dudley.
Bailey made his first appearance on television very early on in his career, although it was not for comedy but for playing the piano for a mind-reading dog on the children's TV show, Motormouth. The dog, who clearly did not possess any psychic powers, caused the trick to go wrong which Bailey later talked about on the TV show Room 101. In 1991, he began appearing in such stand-up comedy shows as The Happening, Packing Them In, The Stand Up Show, and The Comedy Store. He was also the team captain for two panel shows, an ITV musical quiz pilot, Pop Dogs, and the short-lived sci-fi panel show, Space Cadets.
Over the next few years, Bailey made guest appearances on such shows as Have I Got News For You, Room 101, Des O'Connor Tonight, Coast to Coast and three episodes of Black Books sister show, Spaced, in which he played comic-shop manager Bilbo Bagshot. In 1998, Bailey was given his own show, Is It Bill Bailey?, which he wrote and presented.
In the same year, Dylan Moran approached Bailey with a pilot script of Black Books, a sitcom about a grumpy bookshop owner, his halfwit assistant and their eccentric neighbour. The show was commisioned in 2000 and Bailey starred as Manny Bianco. The show ran until 2004 with three series of six episodes each. The show attracted much attention from fans and critics alike, and provided Bailey with a lot of public awareness. This fanbase gained him popularity and Bailey's 2001 stand-up comedy show, Bewilderness, proved a success, with The New York Times commenting that he was 'a treat for the funny bone, the brain and the ear' and The Telegraph calling him 'a hobbit with a wicked sense of humour'.
Bewilderness demonstrated Bailey's wide musical knowledge, and when Sean Hughes left the musical panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks in 2002, Bailey became the perfect candidate to replace him. He remained as team captain for six years before leaving in 2008 to return to stand-up comedy. Bailey has also appeared on panel show QI since 2003, appearing alongside Alan Davies and Stephen Fry. He appearaed with Alan Davies again when he was cast as struggling street magician Kenny Starkiss in mystery/drama series Jonathan Creek.
Bailey then went on to host the wildlife documentry series, Wild Thing I Love You, in which he and a team of zoologists attempt to preserve Britain's most endangered wildlife. He also appeared in E4's drama/comedy series Skins, in which he played Maxxie's father, Walter Oliver. He went on to appear in other TV shows such as Grand Designs Live, 15 Storeys High, Hustle and TV Heaven, Telly Hell.
In 2009, Bailey hosted his own show, Bill Bailey's Birdwatching Bonanza, in which he coached two teams of celebrities through various birdwatching challenges.
In 2007, fans started a petition to try to persuade Bill to audition for a role as a dwarf in the 2010 film The Hobbit. The petition reached its target amount of signatures, and was sent off to the producers. It was hoped that Bailey's Tinselworm tour would take him to New Zealand, where the film was in pre-production, that he would be able to audition. In 2008, Bailey planned to put himself forward for Britain's Eurovision Song Contest Entry, after more fan petitions encouraged him to do so.
Bailey is currently working on a film project about the explorer and naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, in the form of an Indonesian travelogue.
Bill Bailey married his wife, Krisitin Bailey, a former costume designer, in 1998 in Indonesia. He is an avid Star Trek fan, and named his son Dax (born 2003) after the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine character.
He is a supportor of Queen Park Rangers and currently resides in Hammersmith, London.
Awards and achievementsEdit
Bailey won the Time Out Magazine Comedy Award Winner in 1995, and the Edinburgh Festival Critics' Award Winner in 1996. He was nominated for the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1996, and lost to Black Books co-star Dylan Moran. Moran later stated the award was 'a load of media rubbish', and felt that the award should have gone to Bailey.
He was also awarded the title of Best Actor at the 1986 Institut Français awards. Bailey was listed by The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy in 2003, and ranked #7 in the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups hosted by Channel 4.
|Late 1980s||Motormouth||Children's TV show||Himself (pianist)|
|1992||Maid Marian and her Merry Men||Children's TV show||Court jester to King John|
|1994||Blue Heaven||TV sitcom||Boris|
|1995||Cosmic Jam||Comedy tour||Himself|
|1997||Bill Bailey Live||Televised version of Cosmic Jam||Himself|
|Space Cadets||Panel show||Himself (team captain)|
|1998||Light Lunch||Comedy chat show||Himself|
|Is It Bill Bailey?||Stand-up/sketch show||Himself|
|1998-2008||Never Mind the Buzzcocks||Comedy panel show||Himself (guest/team captain)|
|1999||Spaced||TV sitcom||Bilbo Bagshot|
|The Stick Up||Film||Mr. Tubbs|
|My Wife||Comedy short||Narrator (voice)|
|World Cup Comedy||Comedy show||Himself (guest)|
|1999, 2001, 2005, 2007 - 2009||Have I Got News For You||Comedy panel show||Himself (guest/guest host)|
|Room 101||Comedy chat show||Himself (guest)|
|Head On Comedy||Comedy show||Himself|
|2000-2004||Black Books||TV sitcom||Manny Bianco|
|2001, 2003||Jonathan Creek||Crime/drama TV series||Kenny Starkiss|
|2002||Late Nigh with Conan O'Brien||Chat show||Himself (guest)|
|2002, 2008||Rove Live||Comedy chat show||Himself|
|2003 - 2009||Friday Night with Jonathan Ross||Chat show||Himself (guest)|
|2003 - 2010||QI||Comedy panel show||Himself (guest)|
|Terkel in Trouble||Animation||Narrator (voice)|
|15 Storeys High||TV sitcom||Mr. Pirbright|
|Bill Bailey: Part Troll||Comedy tour||Himself|
|Top Gear||Motoring magazine||Himself (guest)|
|Skip to the End||Documentary||Himself (guest)|
|2004 - 2008||Richard and Judy||Chat show||Himself (guest)|
|2006||The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson||Chat show||Himself (guest)|
|Wild Thing: I Love You||Documentary||Himself (presenter)|
|TV Heaven, Telly Hell||Comedy chat show||Himself (guest)|
|2007||More Boys Who Do Comedy||Documentary||Himself (guest)|
|Buzzcocks ... Imagine a Mildly Amusing Panel Game||Documentary||Himself (guest)|
|The Comedy Map of Britain||Documentary||Himself (guest)|
|100 Greatest Stand-Ups||Documentary||Himself (guest)|
|2008||Love Soup||Comedy drama||Elliot Anderson|
|Skins||Comedy drama||Walter Oliver|
|Bill Bailey: Tinselworm||Comedy tour||Himself|
|Blackadder's Most Cunning Moments||Documentary||Himself (guest)|
|Blackadder Exclusive: The Whole Rotton Saga||Documentary||Himself (guest)|
|This Week||News chat show||Himself (guest)|
|The Beatbox Choir||Documentary||Himself (guest)|
|2009||The Graham Norton Show||Chat show||Himself (guest)|
|Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra||Comedy/musical tour||Himself|
|Xposé||News/talk show||Himself (guest)|
|2010||Bill Bailey's Birdwatching Bonanza||Documentary||Himself (presenter)|
|The ONE Show||Chat show||Himself (guest)|
|Live from Studio Five||Chat show||Himself (guest)|
|Burke and Hare||Film||Angus|
|Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang||Film||Farmer MacReadie|
Behind the scenesEdit
- Bailey can speak fluent German.
- His favourite musical artists include David Bowie, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Dandy Warhols, Talking Heads, The Clash, Beck and Elvis Costello.
- He was best man at friend and QI co-star Alan Davies' wedding in January, 2007.
- He has perfect pitch.
- Bailey was born in the same year (1965) as his charcter in Black Books, Manny Bianco.
- He is a member of the punk band Beergut 100.