Is It Bill Bailey (BBC2, 1998)
This is yet another show that falls into the category of “something that I only vaguely remember from the time that deserves to be featured here”. Bill Bailey is a comedian who first came on the scene in the 90s, and soon he was winning awards, and making several TV appearances. This is because his style of being a surreal musical comedian could be classed as unique.
He also has a rather distinctive look, with his long hair and beard, and there is a general oddball air around what he does. After proving that he has what it takes to perform, in the late-90s he was given a TV show of his own in a late-night slot (it’s a shame that new comedy shows aren’t tried out in this slot on BBC2 now) which was Is It Bill Bailey.
Whether it was with his guitar, or even at the piano, he would perform some amusing songs. He also had the ability to perform unusual versions of various TV themes, and what songs would sound like if they were performed by groups in various genres. Inbetween all of this, he also liked to go on some rather bizarre flights of fancy.
And along with what was happening the studio, there were also various sketches on location, among the people appearing in these was Simon Pegg, who was about to become a big name in comedy too. There was only one series of Is It Bill Bailey, and it hasn’t been seen since, with no repeat run or DVD release, which is rather disappointing, because this was very enjoyable.
We should be pleased that this definitely wasn’t the last that we would see of him on TV though. He has gone on to appear in various sitcoms including Spaced and Black Books (Pegg appeared in both of these too), along with films including Hot Fuzz, and he also managed the difficult task of appearing several times on Never Mind The Buzzcocks whilst managing to retain his dignity.
He has also been on several tours where he has performed his mix of music and comedy across the country, and these have been successful, because plenty of people have realised that nobody else really does it like he does. And recently he endeared himself to a more mainstream audience by winning Strictly Come Dancing, which has led to further acclaim.