'Pretty bleak!' Bill Bailey admits he was forced to sign up to Strictly due to money woes

Bill Bailey, 57, has revealed he was forced to sign up to Strictly Come Dancing in 2020 because he was struggling for money when his comedy gigs were cancelled due to the Covid pandemic. Little did he know he would go on to win the show alongside Oti Mabuse and become one of the most popular winners in the show’s history.

In a new episode of Jay Rayner’s Out to Lunch podcast, Bill admitted he had been asked to do Strictly many times before he finally agreed.

His hesitation in the past came down to the “relentlessness” of committing 12 weeks of his life to the process.

Bill told the food critic: “I thought, I will never be able to commit to this amount of time, it’s ridiculous!

“But then, of course, a once in a generation plague comes along.”

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He explained that when the pandemic hit, his tour was cancelled and work had dried up.

The comedian confessed: “All this work was disappearing out the door. All the live gigs went like dominoes.

“I tried doing Zoom gigs and online stuff but, you know, it’s pretty grim.”

Jay then quizzed him on whether “at this point in his career” he could have financially “ridden out the pandemic without doing anything”.

To his surprise, he went on to make history as the oldest celebrity to lift the Glitterball trophy.

In addition, his partner Oti became the only professional to win the show twice in a row, following her triumph with Kelvin Fletcher the year before.

As he was named the winner, Bill exclaimed: “It feels surreal, it feels extraordinary, it feels wonderful.

“I never thought we’d get this far, never thought we’d get to the final.

“But I have had the most extraordinary teacher and the most extraordinary dancer.

“Someone who believed in me right from the beginning, and she found something in me and turned me into this, into a dancer.”

In response, Oti told him: “I think you are amazing, remarkable. You just put your heart and soul into everything.

“Thank you for being a friend, a father figure to me, a brother, and for this,” she said as she lifted the coveted trophy.

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