How Bill Bailey is turning into Strictly Come Dancing’s surprise package

Photo Courtesy: Abi Skipp

When this year’s Strictly Come Dancing line-up was revealed, not many punters would have tipped 55-year-old comedian Bill Bailey to take home the sought-after Glitterball. In fact, he was way down the pecking order, behind the likes of Maisie Smith, who stars as Tiffany Butcher in EastEnders, Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo and singer HRVY. 

However, after numerous good performances from the funny man, he has now shot into the lead in the betting market, and is the odds-on favourite in the Strictly Come Dancing odds. 

The massive odds slash comes as Bailey and his partner Oti Mabuse, who won the show last year with former Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher, finished joint-second on the leaderboard in week four’s show. 

The couple wowed the judges and the audience at home with their hip hopping routine to Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang. The stunning performance landed the pair their first 10, with head judge Shirley Ballas giving out the full marks, whilst Motsi Mabuse, the sister of Oti, and former Strictly professional Anton DuBeke awarded the routine with very respectable nines, whilst they only received an eight from the infamously strict Craig Revel-Horwood.

From the start, Bailey had his work cut out to prove the viewers, who were doubting his ability, wrong, and speaking to presenter Zoe Ball on It Takes Two, Strictly’s weekly spin-off show, the comedian revealed he is in it to win it.

“People assumed I would be a comedy addition to the show and I was going to dress up in silly costumes and be no good at it,” the 55-year-old told Ball.

“It’s quite gratifying for people to realise that I am taking this seriously, I am giving it 100 percent because I want to do justice to the dance and Oti’s hard work and also to the show, this is about dance!”

After finishing second two weeks in a row, Bailey is clearly oozing with confidence, and so are the punters who have backed him. Whilst many thought he was going to have two left feet, he looks more comfortable than ever imagined, and his chemistry on the dancefloor with Mabuse is evident – you just need to look at their glittering scores. 

However, it could be too early to call. This season has been one of the most unpredictable in the shows’ 16-year history. Over the course of the opening five weeks, a different couple has been sat at the top of the leaderboard each time, and Bailey and Mabuse are yet to achieve that accolade.

It was a shock for many to see Smith, who was the pre-show favourite, in the bottom two when the votes were revealed in last Sunday’s show. But she never looked like heading for the exit, and instead The Wanted’s Max George was sent packing, following the nerve-racking dance off.

It was also a surprise for many to see Amfo, who performed a stunning Charleston, atop the leaderboard in week four. The Radio 1 DJ was third from bottom just the previous week but was awarded the joint highest score of the series thus far from the judges (29).

Of course, HRVY is one to watch as well. The 21-year-old put on another good performance last week, tying in second with Bailey, and he’s next in-line with the bookies to lift the Glitterball. 

The likeable comedian may be this year’s surprise package, and for now the favourite, but the show has been more unpredictable than ever, and with such a lengthy amount of the show remaining, the winner is just too hard to call.