Bill Bailey: 'I haven't ruled out living in Somerset again'
PUBLISHED: 16:26 05 April 2019
Andy Hollingworth Archive
The comedian will be performing in Somerset and it’s the homecoming he’s been longing for, as he tells Holly Louise Eells
The Bath & West Showground is perhaps the biggest homecoming gig Bill Bailey could have ever wished for. This spring will see the multi-talented showman take to the Shepton Mallet stage to perform his highly-acclaimed live show, Larks in Transit.
“I am so chuffed to be performing not once, but twice at this venue,” says Bill. “The Bath & West Showground is where I grew up and it is a big part of my childhood. My life has come full circle and I am hoping it is going to be the homecoming gig I have wanted to do for years; I really can’t wait!”
Larks in Transit is described as ‘a compendium of travellers’ tales and the general shenanigans of 20 years as a travelling comedian’. With musical virtuosity, surreal tangents and trademark intelligence, he tackles politics, philosophy and the pursuit of happiness. Whilst the Larks in Transit tour continues to roll for additional dates this spring, the show has to date been enjoyed by over 170,000 fans.
According to Bill, the show contains a lot of elements people may be familiar with, including lots of music and engagement with the audience. “I really like the audience to join in, sing songs and ask me questions,” says the comedian.
“It is an immersive show with a lot of history, and this is something new I have incorporated. Also, there will be a section in the show discussing growing up in the West Country, including childhood experiences, my memories of the place and making connections with now and the past. But I will try not to make it too political otherwise it is too depressing. If not, you will see me start ranting, raving and frothing at the mouth, and you don’t want to see that!”
However, whilst on tour, Bill is looking forward to wiping out the cabin fever and exploring the local sights. “It is a great restorative process when you are on tour and you are stuck in a hotel room,” he explains. “I really like walks in the countryside and the West Country has amazing opportunities to do this. Hopefully, I will visit the Mendip Hills and Somerset Levels, try some mountain bike trials - which is something I like to do a lot of - and go somewhere I can take my board and paddle on the river.”
Even though Bill has lived in Hammersmith, London for many years, he still considers the West Country his home. “The last time I visited Somerset, I felt a sense of longing and I haven’t ruled out living in this area again; it is a place that has a lot of great memories for me,” he says. “This is where I grew up, went to school and had my formative years, and experienced lots of firsts, including my first guitar, my first band, and my first gig!”
For those who don’t know, Bill has a huge passion for animals and has long been a supporter of numerous charities including International Animal Rescue, The Sumatran Orangutan Society and he has a variety of rescue animals at his home. “I can see myself with a sprawling farm in the West Country one day, with ostriches running in one direction,” he says.
“My home is an increasing rescue centre, which started with a dog, then became two dogs, then more feral mutts from dog pounds, chickens, a chameleon, ducks, and other rescue pets. I keep thinking one day there will be straw on the floor with animals running around the flat, and we will just be eating pineapple out of a tin.”
The star has also long been a supporter for Bowel Cancer UK, Prostate Cancer UK, The Asthma Society, and Reprieve. He is also patron of Good Vibrations, The Music House for Children and Ambassador for Youth Music.
In the summer of 2017, in memory of his mother who he lost to bowel cancer in 2005, Bill walked The Ridgeway Walk in support of Stand Up to Cancer, a charity very close to Bill’s heart. This was the second time he’d completed the walk for charity, having first done it in 2015. Joined by a number of his closest pals, Bill trekked the 100-mile route from Bedfordshire to Wiltshire in just over six days, raising over £9,000.
“Over the last few years I have organised a couple of charity walks that have ended up in the West Country, including The Ridgeway Walk,” he says. “All the guide books say you should start the walk from west to east because you have to start at The West Kennet Long Barrow and then walk along the Beacon, near Dunstable. However, I wanted to walk it the other way but was advised I needed to avoid the prevailing wind from east to west. But I prefer that direction because with my hair it is better it blows off my face!”
“Walking from east to west had some sort of symbolic direction for me because it felt like I was on a voyage through my childhood the closer we got to Aubrey, and I saw so many places I had been to as a kid. The West Country really is one of the most beautiful places in Britain.”
Bill Bailey’s Larks in Transit is at The Bath & West Showground on May 16 and 17. For more information, and to book tickets, visit billbailey.co.uk.