Culture

Bill Bailey: ‘I’d allow dogs into the House of Commons. It would make politicians nicer’

Comedian, musician and actor Bill Bailey tells us why dogs, and their humans, are having a pretty tough time right now, and what needs to be done about it

Bill Bailey is backing the Kennel Club Charitable Trust’s Christmas campaign to support families and their pets. Image: Supplied

Having a dog makes you *that* person, says Bill Bailey. You know the type, the kind who calls their family from the other side of the world only to ask them to “put the dog on!” so they can bark down the phone in the hope its ears will prick up as it recognises its owner’s voice. 

“You end up just doing these daft things,” he laughs.

Bailey has always had dogs in his life, from his grandparents’ pooches to a Lakeland Terrier called Rocky who would go with him to some of his first shows. “He would jump up and just sit with me in the van, and hang around and he came on stage a few times” he recalls. “He was a great companion on those trips.”

The comedian and musician has thrown his name behind many important causes over the years, but this Christmas, he’s focusing on man’s best friend, and the people they comfort. 

“People are willing to make sacrifices for their dogs and, you know, choose between heating themselves and the dog, and food, and sharing their food with the dog, which is extraordinary and wonderful, you know, such acts of sacrifice, but people shouldn’t be able to be in that position,” he says. 

Animal shelters are seeing more dogs, and other pets, being handed over by desperate owners unable to meet the costs of caring for them. 

“The thought of having to give up a family pet or a dog is just to me, that is it’s heartbreaking,” Bailey says. 

So he has put his name to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust’s Christmas campaign, which is raising money to support small charities helping people and their dogs during the cost of living crisis. 

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For most of us, it’s been the kind of year when a comforting nuzzle from a wet nose has been very much needed. To that end, Bailey believes parliament could do worse than allowing dogs in the House of Commons. “I think that would make people a lot nicer to each other, and we could do with that right now,” he says. 

He suggests they could start by getting their heads out of the sand when it comes to the climate crisis. “We’ve seen the last eight years have the eight hottest years on record,” he says. “So, you know, it’s, it’s not going away.

“People are going to be struggling financially next year, struggling to heat their homes, struggling to eat and all of these issues are connected to climate as well.” 

Looking into the future, Bailey is pinning his hopes on nuclear fusion. Calling it “the holy grail of fuel”, it would be clean, almost unlimited power.  

He continues: “If (science) gets there, that’s a massive massive boost for the whole world. But we’re a long way off, and in that time, we still need to keep the lights on.”

Reflecting on his highlight of 2022, Bailey settles on the charity walk he did in the summer, in memory of his old pal and comedian Sean Lock, who died of cancer last year. 

“And it was, I’ve got to say, a joyful experience because we were walking with Sean’s family, his friends… There were some moments which were quite sad, and we shed a tear remembering Sean, but there was a very joyful throng, a huge mob of us, who walked 200 miles down the south-west coast path.”

Bailey says it was the reaction from the public that really made the walk extraordinary. One lady even handed him an envelope with her birthday money in, saying that though she’d been told to buy jewellery with it, she didn’t need any more, and she wanted to donate the money instead. 

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“People coming together to help others is one of the great things of humanity,’ says Bailey. “It’s when we are at our best, I think.”

That’s why he’s asking people to support families and their pets this Christmas, because “caring for a dog can actually make you a better person,” he says. 

“Being around animals is good for the soul.”

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust is taking part in The Big Give with matched funding, meaning every £1 donated between 29th November and 6th December will be doubled, up to £20k. You can donate here.

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