Bill Bailey interview
Jay Richardson talks to the inimitable star of stage and screen as he prepares to head for a conference centre near you
Audiences filing into the ‘humungoid shed’ of the Clyde Auditorium for the opening nights of Tinselworm, Bill Bailey’s new national tour, will be fighting for nothing less than the UK’s standing in Europe and democracy itself. Following year on year humiliating defeat at the Eurovision Song Contest, the quest for a hero saw the likes of Jarvis Cocker and Morrissey championed, yet instead, it’s been left to a solitary, exceptionally hairy, musically gifted man-goblin to restore the nation’s pride.
Responding to online petitions, the Never Mind The Buzzcocks star is asking fans to assess his efforts at penning the UK’s tune.
‘Yes. I might just have to reveal my entry on tour,’ he explains. ‘I’m working on a song just now and I’ll be canvassing opinion as part of the show.’
The 43-year-old comedian, musician and kindred spirit of all things woodland sounds is genuinely fond of Glasgow’s ‘outgoing, comedy literate crowds’, but has mixed memories of filming the Is It Bill Bailey? programme in the city nine years ago with Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright.
‘We’re like the West Country mafia: Edgar, Simon [Pegg] and me. We really enjoy working together. I guess you could call us the Scrumpia or something.
‘We had great fun doing that show, but I wrote a lot of the sketches for the outdoors. This is fine, writing in London in the summer, but not so much fun filming a Sir Francis Drake spoof in Glasgow in January, slowly getting hypothermia.’
Bailey has produced and starred in a West End production of sketches by Harold Pinter already this year, entitled Pinter’s People, and conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra in interpretations of his own songs.
‘Witnessing a 58-piece orchestra playing Insect Nation, that was very surreal,’ he laughs. ‘And writing gags for the bassoon was certainly new territory for me.’
Having named his son Dax, after a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine character, even Bailey’s oddest musings now are treated as genuine artistic requests.
‘Yes, he’s called Dax after a symbiont, a creature that absorbs the power of others. I may just have given him too much baggage. I’ll tell him he’s named after the German stock exchange.
‘You have to be very careful. Mention casually to someone promoting the show that you would like a spaceship and next minute you are reading emails saying “well, we’ve priced some spaceships, which one do you like?’”