Bill Bailey is a comedian, musician and actor most well known for live shows Dandelion Mind, Tinselworm, Bewilderness and Part Troll, and his work on television in programmes such as Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Black Books.
Raised in the West Country, Bill was once in a group called The Famous Five – an unsuccessful band with only four members. Although a talented musician, Bill always felt an urge to slip jokes into the music. This didn’t work out so, harbouring theatrical ambitions, he spent the early 80s touring with a Welsh Experimental theatre troupe, and appearing on stage with the Workers’ Revolutionary Party. He supplemented these with stints as a lounge pianist, and a keyboard player in a jazz trio. It was a John Hegley gig that finally inspired him to fuse the music, jokes and theatricality and become a stand-up comedian.
Bill formed the Rubber Bishops with Toby Longworth in 1984, using cassocks borrowed from a church in Edinburgh. They became well known on the club circuit for their off-the-wall musical comedy. Sometimes having to travel to several gigs in one night, Bill became something of an authority on motorway service stations. When Toby left the Rubber Bishops in 1989 to join the RSC, Bill and Martin Stubbs continued with the Rubber Bishops till 1994.
After the Rubber Bishops, Bill teamed up with Sean Lock for 1994 Edinburgh show Rock, before going solo in 1995 with Cosmic Jam and earning a Perrier nomination. This led to a 1996 TV broadcast of the show, featuring a souped up X-Wing-esque keyboard and a giant papier mache ant suspended from the ceiling.
In 1998 he wrote and starred in BBC Two show, Is it Bill Bailey?; a mixture of musical parodies, surreal sketches, and extended monologues on subjects such as the fine line between genius and madness and existential biscuit aisles.
The turn of the century brought a starring role in award-winning sitcom Black Books as increasingly deranged ex-accountant Manny Bianco, and guest appearances in acclaimed comedy Spaced as Bilbo Bagshot – comic store owner and die hard Hawk the Slayer fan.