It wasn’t just female fans of the BBC TV show Strictly Come Dancing who cheered when actor, musician and comedian Bill Bailey won the coveted Glitter Ball trophy in December – but men of a certain age as well.
For Bill Bailey not only looks like a large section of the Great British blokedom with his shapeless sweat shirts, thinning hair and pot belly, but at 55 was almost a mirror image of how many chaps at that age look. Me being one of them.
And of course he proved all the critics wrong, failing to be the first to be eliminated from the show and going on to improve as a dancer, lose weight and bring a zest to the competition that showed up some of the younger contestants.
So what of his Bathonian credentials? Well Mark Robert Bailey (that’s his real name) was born in the city in 1965 to medical parents – his dad a GP and his mum a nurse.
He spent most of his childhood in Keynsham (which we can call West Bath for this article) and was educated at King Edward’s School an independent school in Bath.
There he honed his performance skills as a musician in a school rock band called Behind Closed Doors, as well as providing entertainment on the coach trips to rugby matches by singing songs one of which was Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey which led to his nickname of Bill – or so the story goes.
He studied music in London after leaving school becoming a classically trained musician. Acting came next with a part in The Printers, which also featured Vanessa Redgrave and Frances de la Tour.
A comedy tour with Mark Lamarr in 1984 earned him a reputation as a versatile stand-up and after runs at the Edinburgh Festival he moved to television where his reputation grew. However, we all know that his success – especially in Strictly with his partner Oti Mabusi (pictured) – was created on the streets of Bath where the natural rhythm of the city made him a fine dancer.
Bill describes himself as a feminist, campaigns against cruelty to animals, is an advocate in highlighting research into prostate cancer in men and is a supporter of the Labour Party.
Bath Voice is a monthly news magazine for the city. Harry Mottram is the news editor. The February issue is out now – free to thousands of homes in Bath.
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