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Strictly winner Bill Bailey tips Rose and Giovanni to take home Glitterball trophy

Strictly winner Bill Bailey has tipped EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis to take home the Glitterball this year.

The comic, who won the BBC contest in 2020, has branded the deaf actress “incredible” – and is backing her and pro partner Giovanni Pernice to go all the way.

Bill recently met Rose at a party and said he was blown away by how much she has achieved. “It’s amazing what she does,” he says.

“She gets her cue from Giovanni about when the dance is starting and when she gets to the start point she counts all the numbers in her head.

“It’s incredible that she is able to dance with her deafness and it’s not an impairment.

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Former winner Bill has tipped Giovanni and Rose to win Strictly
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“She has found a way to work around it. That is what is so incredible.”

Bill says Strictly was a life changing experience for him and more than a year later he is still excited about his time on the BBC show.

He continues to dance – and reckons he’s even got a signature twirl.

“I can’t stop dancing,” Bill says.

“I just love doing it so much.

“Whenever I hear some music now, I just want to dance, I want to move to it.

“I’ve got some of my own signature choreography and some of it is established dance moves like the Charleston.”








Bill and his dancing partner Oti Mabuse won the glitterball trophy last year
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The funnyman also told how he’s invested in a “nice spangly suit” – although he is preparing to “fling” himself across the stage in it one day so it “can’t be too restrictive”.

Bill’s new passion for dance and keeping fit is far cry from the days when he first burst on to the comedy scene in the 1980s.

Back then, he would regularly embark on 48-hour booze marathons. But he will be teetotal for his new stand-up tour, with early morning aerobics classes and healthy packed lunches made by Kristin, his wife of 23 years.

Bill, 56, whose En Route To Normal tour kicks off on December 12, says: “You have to be fit to go on tour. It is demanding and gruelling… a lot of travelling.

“Two hours on stage is a long time to concentrate and perform. I like to engage the audience so you have to be on it.

“You don’t want to be ill. You want to eat healthy and get lots of sleep.”








Bill and Oti were firm favourites as the series went on
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Bill Bailey with his wife Kristin who has been making him packed lunches for his tour
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Shaking his head, he adds: “Those days going out carousing after shows are over… not any more.

“When I was in my 20s, I was a hellraiser – you think you are indestructible. You go and do a gig and then you just go out. You think you will be fine.

“I could probably still do it now, if pushed, but I would have to take a few days off.”

Bill recalls a time in his 20s when he went to Glastonbury but got no sleep and turned up to do a comedy gig “a wreck”.

“I literally hadn’t gone home from the festival,” he says.

“I was a wreck. I hadn’t slept, so I shambled in to the gig. We would go to Glastonbury for days, and there is an Alice in Wonderland aspect to it, definitely.

“I arrived at the Comedy Store to take part in a topical news comedy show and I had no idea what had happened in the last few days. They asked me about the news and I had absolutely no idea.”








Bill Bailey starred in Head on Comedy in 2000 with Jo Brand and Ed Byrne
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Now, Bill’s pre-gig routine consists of “aerobics in the morning so my immune system is firing” and food made by his wife.

“You can get decent meals in restaurants but the problem is when you get it,” he says.

“Normally, at 8pm [showtime], I would be sitting down for dinner but I can’t eat food too soon as you get indigestion, but if you leave it too long you get peckish.

“It’s normally about 5pm when I eat. My wife makes up a meal for me and I take it wherever I am and eat it in the dressing room. I take two of the meals and then I put one in the freezer. We love a lot of Asian food, so she will cook Indonesian or Thai – maybe some grilled fish or grilled chicken, some brown rice, some vegetables… something that will give you energy.”





Bill, regularly voted one of the UK’s top stand-up comics, says his new show will incorporate his Strictly experience – which last year saw in him take home the Glitterball trophy with pro partner Oti Mabuse. It will also cover the pandemic and how, in that time, the comic discovered new things about his family.

Bill says: “My dad, who is in his eighties, never had an iPhone his whole life but I bought him one and he taught himself how to use it so he could join in with all the Skype conversations with the family.

“We would actually communicate with him more.

“It was also about finding another facet of someone’s life. My dad would put on a shirt and tie for a Skype call.

“I was like, ‘Dad, you don’t have to put on a shirt and tie’, and he was like, ‘No, you can’t let standards slip.’




“That was something I never realised about him. It reminded me of when I was a kid and he was a doctor. He would go out on calls in the middle of the night in a shirt and tie.”

Over the years Bill, who first shot to fame playing hapless Manny in the TV sitcom Black Books, has had his fair share of showbiz experiences – but he says the most memorable was getting tongue-tied in front of his hero Sir Paul McCartney.

He says: “I was such a huge fan and had prepared this speech I was going to say to him but it went completely haywire. It went wrong and turned into gibberish.

“It probably happens to him a lot,” he laughs.

“He took it very well and was gracious.”

Another highlight of Bill’s career was “playing cowbells with Deep Purple” – something he brands “one of the strangest nights”.

But it was Prince Charles who left him completely baffled.




Bill recalls: “I was at a charity gig and he turned up before the gig in rehearsals and said, ‘How do I play the guitar with six necks?’ I was going, ‘I can’t play them all at the same time’, and he goes, ‘Perhaps you should get a fake arm?’

“I didn’t know if I was being trolled by Prince Charles but I think I said, ‘That’s not a bad idea!’ ”

Bill’s stage shows come complete with multiple musical instruments including – as Prince Charles saw – a six-necked guitar.

Although he generally uses a guitar and piano as the foundation of his shows, Bill enjoys seeking out more unusual instruments. He has taught himself how to play the oud, the kazoo, the bongos, the theremin and even has a rig of klaxon horns set up chromatically on stage so they can be played like a xylophone.








Bill starred on Never Mind The Buzzcocks with Phil Jupitus and Mark Lamarr
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Bill says the lockdown inspired him musically – something he will shed more light on during his shows as he unveils a whole host of new tunes.

“Birdsong and ringtones… those things have been the soundtrack to our lives,” he says.

“Having no planes and trains, we were catapulted back in time to some pre-industrial age where there were fewer sounds. A lot of composers would take their inspiration from the natural world.

“There will also be a lot of recollection about my own life, working in children’s theatre, tales of misadventure, things going wrong, early attempts at doing gigs and also the definition of happiness. What is it that makes real happiness? Those are the things I was thinking about a lot.

“It’s something that is always touted – what happiness is and how it compares with other countries in the world.”

And after an interesting year, Bill says he is optimistic about the future, adding: “I’m hopeful we can go back to something approaching normality and hopefully, these shows will go ahead.”

■ Bill Bailey’s En Route To Normal tour kicks off in Plymouth, Devon, on December 12. Tickets and dates can be found at billbailey.co.uk


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