29 November 2020 08:30
It is a slightly menacing track, covered more recently, it is true, by One Direction, in a way that took it closer to irritant than menace. The question was, could its pulsing, insistent rhythm take Bailey a two-step closer to the top slot in Strictly Come Dancing? This far into the show's 18th series, the 55-year-old British comedian and dance contestant is established as a seasonal tonic for the nation, but last week the betting was also odds on that he would make it all the way through to the final. Bailey was hired, the show's millions of viewers can't really be blamed for assuming, to fill the role previously occupied by previous plump participants, such as John Sergeant and Ed Balls. A gifted musician who was discovered to enjoy perfect pitch as a child, he recently revealed in his autobiography that as a teenager he took ballroom dancing lessons where he learned how to waltz, foxtrot and quickstep.
It was his outing in week four of the BBC One show in which he danced to Rapper's Delight with his professional partner, Oti Mabuse, that really caught the judges' attention. "Every week, he comes in as a blank canvas and he falls in love with the dance and learns it all from scratch only to perform it on Saturday. Oti and Bill – 'he puts so much heart in it,' she says. Bailey is perhaps most happy in the guise of unkempt, birding nature-lover, a kind of Bill Oddie in-waiting. The comic is also relaxed in the role of an accidental clever-clogs on television quiz shows such as QI and Have I Got News For You. His comedy has always mined fertile seams of nerdery – comfortably extracting jokes about Cern's Large Hadron Collider and handling the big topics in science and philosophy with his trademark brand of magical thinking.
In other stage shows, Bailey has been ready to pick up the baton of musically adept comedians of yesteryear, such as Victor Borge or Tom Lehrer. Reviewing this show in 2008, the Guardian's Brian Logan wrote: "With Bailey, we expect the surreal. But there is more oddness at play here than usual, as the hairy comic scurries about the Albert Hall stage, cracking jokes while an orchestra plays Nokia ringtones and the theme tune to Emmerdale Farm. Logan recognised that Bailey's humour has never come from that destructive and abandoned place where many egotistical standups seemed to have been forged. When he gets it right, as Logan acknowledged, it is usually by foregrounding his own enthusiasms and, say, deconstructing Rossini or the EastEnders theme, then "it's sublime, as stately form meets daft content, and Bailey runs riot in the candy shop of his musical imagination". Despite a long track record in live comedy, it's possible that for some Strictly fans Bailey was only familiar as a diverting character they had spotted in a string of cult television sitcoms, from Black Books, in which he played to great effect opposite Dylan Moran and Tamsin Greig, to Spaced, where he played Bilbo Bagshot. Bill Bailey, Dylan Moran and Tamsin Greig in Black Books. So perhaps Bailey's transition at this mature stage into yet another being, a full-on, toe-tapping, bowler hat-tipping Bob Fosse-type, should not have come as a shock. He earned the nickname Bill at school because he was reportedly so good at playing the old Dixieland standard Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey on the guitar. Before he formed a teenage band with friends, Bailey is recorded as the kind of all-rounder who would usually be considered head boy material. He was the only child in his year to take an A-Level in music, and he came out with an A grade. When Bailey took over from Sean Hughes as a team captain in the BBC2 music quiz show Never Mind the Buzzcocks in 2002, he appeared content to be teased by the programme's host, his old friend Mark Lamarr, as if he was a country bumpkin, despite the fact that he could probably have played every instrument on every record they had to answer questions on. A stage demeanour that appealingly plays up the west country hippy angle is not exactly a distortion of the truth, but it does sidestep some of the political urgency he must have felt when he once appeared in radical leftwing theatre alongside Vanessa and Corin Redgrave in the Workers Revolutionary Party's touring company. It is amusing that he finds himself playing such an important role in British culture at a time of need In the nation's hour of need, Bailey has not just entertained us on Strictly. Last month he also brought out his Remarkable Guide to Happiness to lift spirits with life-affirming images of strawberry plants and stories of how his mother taught him to remember music with visual imagery. The following week they dropped a little with their American Smooth dance. Bailey has talked of his difficulty in appearing to be taking the lead role as they dance. After Strictly, Bailey will deserve a rest. Coronavirus allowing, he will be performing his one-man Christmas Larks show at the Lyceum theatre in London to distanced audiences – standup comedians, unlike pantomime casts, can be mobilised or stepped down at short notice with relative ease. If Bailey is taking his fresh identity as a television twinkle-toes in his stride, there remains one mystifying fact. Bailey must have resisted the pressure. This is admirable, if true, but it is also amusing that he now finds himself playing such an important mainstream role in British culture at a time of need. viewers for opening up about her breast cancer battle in detail. The 52-year-old journalist - who received the all clear in 2016 - spoke candidly to Jessica Plummer about her diagnosis and subsequent cancer battle. ITV viewers have lauded the television star with praise, with some even suggesting that her useful information 'could have just saved someone's life'. Victoria was taking a shower during tonight's recap show when Jessica asked the star about her brave battle. Victoria revealed that one of her breasts had changed size and she had an inverted nipple, which prompted her to get a check. The mum of two was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, and she admitted at the time that she thought she "was going to die". Victoria told Jess how she didn't have a lump, and that the cancer was "all over" her breast which meant she needed intense chemotherapy and targeted radiotherapy. The journalist - who is passionate about talking about her cancer - encouraged women to not only look for lumps, but to also check for changes in the appearance and shape of their breasts and nipples. Following her diagnosis, she underwent intense treatment and had a single mastectomy to have one of her breasts removed. During her moving shower scene, Victoria praised the NHS for saving her life. The insightful conversation has been praised by fans, with many saying that it was so important it should have been in the main show. " @[email protected] Thankyou for highlighting the importance of seeking advice when there's any changes in your breast #breastcancerawareness," wrote one follower. A third wrote: "Fair play to Victoria Derbyshire. Total respected articulate the issue of breast cancer so well. "This conversation about breast cancer is so so important and I'm so glad @vicderbyshire is doing this on prime time telly #ImACeleb," wrote another profile. " @vicderbyshire talking about her breast cancer diagnosis with Jess could have just saved someone's life #ImACeleb," penned one Twitter user.