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Never happier than when he is being creative, either musically, comically, or with his sketchbook art lover Bill Bailey jumped at the chance to host the latest series of the BBC’s Extraordinary Portraits and admits he was moved to tears by some of the works created.
Starting next month on BBC1, the show pays tribute to healthcare heroes, marking the 75th anniversary of the NHS with a series of six specially commissioned and inspiring portraits.
Each programme explores the art of portrait making, as Bill pairs up some of the most inspiring NHS staff with leading British artists discovering the stories of compassionate doctors, palliative care nurses, dedicated porters, passionate paramedics and cleaners who go above and beyond to help the people they care for. Their work, lives and personalities are captured in a new collection of compelling portraits.
Bill (58), an author, comedian, actor and musician, is a particularly apt presenting choice.
“I watched the show before and I really enjoyed it,” he says. “When they asked me to host, I thought this is the perfect thing for me because I’m interested in art and portraiture; I sketch as a pastime to relax, and also I’m from an NHS family and a strong supporter.
“My dad Christopher was a rural GP and my mum Madryn was a nurse. It was really interesting to meet and see the subjects of the paintings at their place of work, and it was fascinating to see the artists at work. We see the full range of jobs.
“Mercifully I’ve been quite lucky that I haven’t had to receive much NHS treatment. I’ve never been hospitalised. But I’ve had regular check-ups and every time I’m struck by the level of care and what a great institution it is. We’re so fortunate to have it."
Bill says the show pays tribute to our amazing NHS staff. “The first subject is a trauma surgeon, Martin, who is portrayed by monumental sculptor Nick Elphick. The work was very powerful and affecting, and the family were very moved at the reveal. As were we all. I must admit I had tears in my eyes.”