Rumpled of the Bailey

Keyboard wizard BILL BAILEY is about to unleash his comedy magic on TV. And he's filming the series in Scotland. Words: Brian Donaldson

If you ventured into your local Job Centre recently and found yourself queuing behind a hairy wizard. don't put it down to hallucinogen over-indulgence. You'd simply stumbled into the loony zone as dreamed up. designed and fronted by musical comedian Bill Bailey. Filming his new sketch and stand- up series Is I! Bill Bailey." in Glasgow and its environs. the self- confessed hippy materialist has been sticking on a variety of disguises to transform himself into everything from a burger stall attendant down to Jesus Christ.

In his trailer. Bailey chomps on his lasagne and carrots as his Merlin fixation is tentatively broached. ‘lt‘s hard enough trying to explain to people who know what you do.‘ he confesses. ‘But trying to explain to some of the people working on it “and then. right. I‘m this wizard at the Job Centre and. ah-ha- ha. it‘s great. With hilarious results." And they’re like. “Yeah. whatever. We‘ll find the location. you just get on with it.” Basically the wizard thing is a sketch I did with Sean Lock in a show called The Bishops and the idea is that it's the longest ever excuse for being late for signing on. I’ll just leave it at that.‘

Left. already. Should you be one off those people who has their eyes on comedy prizes. you may have seen Bill Bailey in I996 being widely tipped to snatch the prestigious Perrier Award. only to be gazumped by foppish lrish Guinness- guzzler Dylan Moran. If you liked his live set. the thought of a six-patter on BBC Scotland will have you salivating your last drool. For Bailey. the leap from standing on stage mumbling quasi-doped-out nonsense to being positioned in front of a camera mumbling guasi-doped-out nonsense has been a revelatory one.

‘l‘vc never done anything like this before.‘ he states. virginally. ‘With stand-up. the creative process is an ongoing thing. You think. “Oh. that would be a good idea. I'll try it out. If it don‘t work. I‘ll drop that and do something else".

Bill Bailey

’I want to dress up as a wizard on top of this mountain. We’ve got clearance from the RAF.’

With this it‘s I like. “I want to dress tip as a wizard on top of this

Swampy thing: it really is Bill Bailey

mountain" and suddenly it's there. it‘s happening. We’ve got the location and got clearance from the RAF.‘

()n location at the Auchingillcn Scout Camp just outside Strathblane. there was no sign of an aerial attack. though in one sketch. co-star Forbes Masson (The “lg/I 1.472)) was under threat from a hamburger- wielding Bill Bailey. This after an endless wait for traffic to die down and Bailey to be positioned. repositioned and positioned again. before being politely asked to stand in an entirely different place. It‘s not quite the same as hammering out a Belgian jazz version of the Dr Who signature tune or retracing the history of the joke back to its Chauceriaii roots. although Bailey will be returning to live surrealism of this sort when he plays Glasgow‘s Cottier Theatre in May.

‘I hope it'll be different for people who know my stand-up.‘ he says. "l‘here’s a lot of sketches with characters who have arisen from the stand-up. so it‘s an idea from there. Btit we're trying to expand that and flesh it out.” Croing well. then‘.’ ‘lt's driven me very nearly to the edge of insanity.‘ Quite literally. mad for it.

Is It Bill Bailey? starts on BBC2, Fri Feb 20, 11.15pm.

preview TV

How Do You Want Me? BBCZ, Tue 24 Feb, 10pm.

Is cOuntry life so strange? Men Behawng Bad/y writer Simon Nye clearly thinks it is In his new darkly comic TV series, the urban hero gets treated rotten by local yokels of a rural Village, even though he’s married to one of them.

How Do You Want Me? is a six-part

comedy-drama starring Charlotte .

Coleman (Four Weddings And A Funeral) and Dylan Moran as newly- weds Lisa and Ian Lyons, who move to the Sussex Village where she grew up She loves the countryside, he doesn't By the end of episode one, Ian's been beaten up by Lisa's brother, and locked up in a shed full of screeching turkeys by her father. An exaggerated View of rural quirkiness?

'I think it‘s gtiite realistic,' disagrees Coleman 'Villages can be very insular, everyone knows what everyone else is doing I went to the Scrlly Isles and I got stuck on top of a phone box By the time I arrived on the next island, the story had gone ar0und the whole place '

Charlotte, born and bred a North Londoner and currently resident in Camden, shares Lisa's hatred for the big city ‘It can be a scary place I love the fantasy of the countryside, though I don't know about the reality of livmg there. If I had enough money, though, I could definitely imagine movrng out to a Village '

Working With stand-up Irish comedian Dylan Moran (wrnner of the I996 Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival) in his first acting role, kept Charlotte on her toes 'I was gtiite scared because he's used to improvrsing, and he's terrifyineg good,’ she says 'I had to do my screen test in Simon Nye's home, which was bizarre It was a case of "Hello, Dylan", then he on a bed and do a scene together Once we’d got over that, I reckoned we bonded pretty gurc kly"

(Rob Driscoll)

Country Wife: Charlotte Coleman

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20 leb- 5 Mai 1998 THE HST 101