Bill Bailey goes 'down under' on an Australian adventure

Sunday: Bill Bailey’s Australian Adventure (Channel 4, 9pm)
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He’s an actor, a singer and a musician. He can dance pretty well too, as anyone who witnessed his Strictly Come Dancing triumph in 2020 will tell you.

Bill Bailey, however, will probably say that despite all his accomplishments, first and foremost he’s a comedian. His ability to make people laugh isn’t something he takes lightly or for granted either – to him, it’s a serious business.

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“I thought I’d only be able to do comedy while I was young and daft and saw it as a way to avoid a boring office job,” he says. “I fully expected eventually to have to do something sensible, and never imagined sustaining it for this amount of years.”

Bill BaileyBill Bailey
Bill Bailey

Born Mark Robert Bailey in Bath in 1965, he was good both academically and at sport at school, but performing became his true love. He was given the nickname ‘Bill’ by his music teacher after he performed the song (Won’t You Come Home) Bill Bailey on the guitar, and after a brief spell studying for an English degree, decided to concentrate on developing a career on stage.

Like Billy Connolly, he started out playing in bands, but it was as a comedian that he made his name, eventually mixing in musical parodies among the more traditional gags – something he continues to this day.

“Writing comedy’s just as much a passion as it was all those years ago,” claims Bailey. “It’s what gets me up in the morning.

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“I still regard myself as learning this craft and love using humour to explore the big questions like ageing, attitudes to religion, the political process, the way social media changes people’s behaviour, and all the myriad events in the news.”

Another of his passions is travel. Before he settled on becoming a comedian, he spent a decade drifting, journeying across the globe supposedly looking for the meaning of life. Whether he found it or not remains a secret, but he did spend time following the hippie trail, rocking up in Indonesia on various occasions (later, he married his wife in Banda; their son, Dax, is named after a local friend).

Since Bailey’s career took off, he’s travelled the length and breadth of the UK as what he describes as a ‘touring minstrel’. He’s also headed further afield, performing stand-up around the world. He’s got a European tour planned for 2024 and is currently on the road in New Zealand.

He’s also taken in the sights and sounds of Australia in the past, somewhere he explores in more depth during his new four-part series.

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Bailey is actually concentrating on the massive state of Western Australia, which has a land area of 975,685 square miles; much of it is a sparse yet beautiful and awe-inspiring landscape.

He begins by meeting true-blue Aussies before taking in the sights and sounds of a local beach, paddleboarding with an ex-NBA star in the chilly Southern Ocean and visiting the spectacular Valley of the Giants. Of course, being a wildlife lover, Bailey will no doubt also find the time to inspect the local flora and fauna. We’re sure to be green with envy as he adds another string – that of travelogue presenter – to his bow.