Through to 2014 Bill is continuing to develop more ideas for film and television with his own production company, Glassbox Productions, who are responsible for bringing to the screen Tinselworm, Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra and Dandelion Mind.
In 2012 Bill started work on the creation of his new show, Qualmpeddler, taking it on a tour of the Highlands and Ireland in late Spring and on to Australia and New Zealand in the early Autumn. His Summer was spent filming with BBC Natural History Unit in Indonesia and Malaysia for Bill Bailey’s Jungle Hero, a two part documentary about naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who came up with the theory of evolution at the same time as Darwin, yet who seems to have been erased from history. Transmitted in April 2013 on BBC2, this was very much a passion project for Bill, whose interest in his hero was sparked some 13 years earlier whilst travelling in his favourite part of the world. The rest of 2013 has largely comprised of a UK Qualmpeddler tour, with the recording of Bill’s next stand-up DVD of the same name occurring sometime in amongst it.
Bill has hosted Comic’s Choice for Channel Four – a five episode celebration of comedy and comedic talent which was broadcast nightly in the run-up to the British Comedy Awards . Each episode saw Bill chatting to a British A-list comedian (Alan Davies, Lee Mack, Jo Brand, Jessica Hynes, Sean Lock) about their favourite comedy performers, actors and shows.
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 combine music, jokes and theatricality and become a stand-up comedian.
In 1989 he and Martin Stubbs formed double act The Rubber Bishops, 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.
After Stubbs quit the act, Bill teamed up with Sean Lock for the 1994 Edinburgh show, Rock, before going solo in 1995 with Cosmic Jam and earning a Perrier nomination. 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. He also made a guest appearance in acclaimed Channel 4 comedy, Spaced as Bilbo Bagshot – comic store owner and die hard Hawk the Slayer fan.
Bill’s 2001 tour, Bewilderness was a commercial and critical success, with The New York Times calling him “a treat for the funny bone, the brain and the ear”, and The Telegraph pronouncing him “a hobbit with a wicked sense of humour”.
Bill’s 2003 tour, Part Troll, was met with equal acclaim and achieved success all over the world. In 2006 his show Steampunk was a huge hit at the Edinburgh Festival.
The UK leg of the 2008 Tinselworm tour enjoyed three sell-out nights at the MEN Arena in Manchester, Europe’s largest indoor arena, and culminated with a sell-out performance at Wembley Arena.
Bill also presented Wild Thing I Love You which began on Channel 4 in 2006. The series focuses on the protection of Britain’s wild animals, and included rehoming badgers, owls, and water voles. He has most recently appeared in the second series of the E4 teenage “dramedy” Skins playing Maxxie’s Dad, Walter Oliver. Bill has been a team captain on popular music quiz, Never Mind the Buzzcocks since 2002.