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Billy Bailey on the inspiration behind his Thoughtifier tour

Bill's latest show will contain 'little bits of rock songs, crowd singing, shanties and a little bit of opera at the end'. Photo: Gillian Robertson
Bill's latest show will contain 'little bits of rock songs, crowd singing, shanties and a little bit of opera at the end'. Photo: Gillian Robertson

The multi-talented Bill Bailey is calling in on Plymouth as part of  his new tour, Thoughtifier. He’s very proud of this word, one he made up for his show’s title, and he’s also very pleased to be back in his beloved West Country.

Where to start with Bill Bailey? He is a man of many talents – comedian and musician, writer and actor, environmentalist and campaigner, a great supporter of good causes and many charities and a Strictly Come Dancing Glitterball Champion. His interests take him all around the world, but today he is at home in London to talk about his latest show, Thoughtifier.

Before you reach for the dictionary, the title is a word entirely of Bill’s creation and one which he is inordinately proud of. He enjoys being hands on with all aspects of his work and spends some time coming up with a title for his shows – previous tours have included Qualmpeddler, The Earl of Whimsy, Tinselworm, Dandelion Wild and Bill Bailey’s Cosmic Jam.

‘Sometimes the names come fairly quickly and I do love making up new words,’ he says. ‘It’s lovely when two words come together to create a word that doesn’t exist, it has an exclusivity to it. I wanted to describe what I was doing. What am I doing? Well, I just tell jokes and stuff, do stupid stuff and sing songs.

‘It’s a celebration of stories and thoughts and jokes and recollections. Music is a big part of my show so I just put thought and amplifier together to get Thoughtifier. I like the word itself, it sounds like someone with important thoughts. I hope it might end up in the Oxford English Dictionary. There might even be a Thoughtifier University Course.’

The show shares concerns that we might be reaching a point in our evolution when it seems as if we’re sleepwalking into a world where humans might be redundant, and much of what we do can be done better and more efficiently by machines. What better time to celebrate our own flawed humanity?

Bill takes us on a jaunt through the error-strewn, distracted, crumb-festooned, sometimes magnificent history of human thought and how it might help us survive in this brave new world.

‘I haven’t done this show before,’ he explains. ‘It’s more of a return to those elements in my shows from a few years ago, with huge screens and a Bollywood band. So many things have inspired me to put that stuff back into the show with film and graphics, little bits of rock songs, crowd singing, shanties and a little bit of opera at the end. There are lots of different elements.

‘In the last six months I’ve done a lot of television shows and had great fun. One of the things I did was join a pub singing group of shantymen. The music replicates the action of working men on ships and the music was born almost out of necessity to help cope with onerous tasks.’

Bill’s tours take him all over the world where he gets the chance to explore nature and the great outdoors and get closer to the things he loves.

‘Part of the experience of touring is to go to places you haven’t been before, to meet new audiences and learn what makes people tick in those places, to gauge what that nation is about,’ he says.

Bill, who was born in Bath, is looking forward to his Devon dates. ‘When I’m anywhere in the West Country, it feels like home and Plymouth is like that. I have family round there and we had holidays there when I was a kid. The audiences are always very responsive.’

Lockdown put paid to touring and so Bill had the time to do Strictly Come Dancing, after several years of being asked. No-one was more surprised than him when he lifted the Glitterball trophy with professional partner Oti Mabuse.

‘I will always be known for it now. It was a strange time but a great experience. When I’m out and about, people will walk past humming the theme tune.’

Thoughtifier is at Plymouth Pavilions

February 22, March 8.

plymouthpavilions.com

Great British Life: Bill Bailey Photo: Gillian RobertsonBill Bailey Photo: Gillian Robertson

THE MANY ROLES OF BILL BAILEY

Books have included Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to Happiness, a collection of funny, meditative and thoughtful essays exploring the nature of happiness, and Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to British Birds, which he also illustrated.

Bill has long been a supporter of numerous charities including International Animal Rescue, Good Vibrations and The Music House for Children, as well as being an Ambassador for Youth Music.

He continues to support The Sumatran Orangutan Society, Bowel Cancer UK, Prostate Cancer UK, The Asthma Society and Reprieve. He has undertaken treks for Stand Up To Cancer and a 100 mile walk of the South West Coast Path in memory of his dear friend and fellow comic, Sean Lock. Raising just shy of £170,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support, the walk from Bude in Cornwall to Combe Martin in Devon was one of his and Sean’s favourite routes. His TV career includes documentaries about arts and crafts and animals, popular panel shows and a role in cult TV classic Black Books



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