David Bailie

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David Bailie
Born (1937-12-04) 4 December 1937 (age 80)
Springs, South Africa
OccupationActor, photographer, videographer, computer programmer, furniture maker/designer
Years active1961–present
Egidija Bailie (m. 2002)

David Bailie (born 4 December 1937)[1] is an English actor, known for his performances on stage, television and film. In the 1960s and 1970s he worked for both the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he was an associate artist. On TV he played "Dask" in the 1977 Doctor Who serial The Robots of Death, and also appeared in Blake's 7. On film, he played the mute pirate Cotton in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.[2] Bailie is also a professional photographer, specialising in portrait photography. He has a studio in West Kensington, London.

Life and career[edit]

Bailie was born in Springs, South Africa, and went to boarding school in Swaziland, before emigrating to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) with his family in 1952. His first acting experience soon after school in 1955 was an amateur production of Doctor in the House, which persuaded him he wanted to be an actor.[3] After leaving school he worked in a bank and then for Central African Airlines. In 1958, he made his first trip from Rhodesia to Britain.

In 1960 he moved to Britain and landed his first small role in the film Flame in the Streets (1961) and then played one of the bell boys in Arthur Kopit's Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad (1961) with Stella Adler playing Madame Rosepettle. He then bluffed his way into weekly repertory in Barrow-in-Furness as juvenile lead – terrified the while that he would be exposed as totally inexperienced.

Recognising the need for training, he auditioned three times for a bursary to the RADA—each time being accepted only as a fee-paying student, which he couldn't afford. He finally sent for the last of his standby money (£200) he had left in Rhodesia and paid for the first term (1963). At the end of term he persuaded John Fernald to allow him free tuition for the next two years.

Terry Hands was also a student at the same time, but had left a little earlier than Bailie and formed the Everyman Theatre with Peter James in Liverpool. On leaving RADA Bailie was invited to join the Everyman in 1964. Amongst other roles he played "Tolen" in The Knack..., "Becket" in Murder in the Cathedral, "Dion" in The Great God Brown, "MacDuff" in Macbeth and "Lucky" in Waiting for Godot.

After a year there, he came back to London and auditioned for and was accepted by Sir Laurence Olivier joining the National Theatre. He played minor roles and also understudied Olivier in Love for Love.

Terry Hands, who had by now joined the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at Stratford-upon-Avon (and later became its artistic director), invited Bailie to join them as an associate artist (1965). There he portrayed "Florizel" opposite Judi Dench's "Perdita" in The Winter's Tale along with "Valentine" in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, "The Bastard" in King John, "Kozanka" in The Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising and "Leslie" in The Madness of Lady Bright.

During the early 1970s he worked with Stomu Yamashta at his Red Buddha Theatre. He was cast as the lead in a show called Raindog, requiring him to do everything from singing and dancing, to performing Martial Arts and gymnastics – which he frankly admits been a demand too far and when Yamashta offered him a paltry sum for performing the opportunity was there to depart which he did. He was then cast by Michael E. Briant in 1976 to play the part of the villain "Dask" in the Doctor Who serial The Robots of Death.[4] He also played in a number of other series prominent at the time.

For personal reasons Bailie then had a long recess in his acting career. Between 1980 and 1989 he ran a furniture-making business. In 1990 he closed that down and returned to acting, having in fact to virtually restart his career. It didn't help that at exactly this point he had to have a cancer removed from his lip, which required learning to speak again. Whilst awaiting work in the acting field he busied himself with CAD design, self-training and writing computer programs and also doing health and safety work in the building industry.

In the mid-1990s after playing alongside Brian Glover in The Canterbury Tales he made a comeback in the film business as "Skewer" in Cutthroat Island (1995), then played an English Judge in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999), and also "The Engineer" in Gladiator (2000).

Bailie's best-known work in film is the role of "Cotton", a mute pirate who has his tongue cut out, so he trained his parrot, also named Cotton, to speak on his behalf, though it cannot say more than stock phrases. Bailie first appears as Cotton in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) as one of the pirates Jack Sparrow chooses in Tortuga. He is one of the Black Pearl crewmembers to survive the Kraken attack in the sequel Dead Man's Chest (2006), and also played Cotton in the third instalment: At World's End (2007).

Bailie also emerged as a radio actor. He played the mad scientist "Taren Capel", a re-incarnation of his earlier work from the 60s series Doctor Who. He has recently been involved in two Big Finish Productions audio dramas playing the "Celestial Toymaker".

Bailie also works as a professional photographer, portraiture and landscapes being his speciality.[5]

He has established a YouTube channel mdebailes to which he uploads readings and performance excerpts.


Year Film Role
1961 Flame in the Streets Uncredited
1972 Henry VIII and His Six Wives Norris
1973 The Creeping Flesh Young Doctor
1974 Son of Dracula Chauffeur
1975 Legend of the Werewolf Boulon
1977 Golden Rendezvous Younger terrorist in car (uncredited)
1995 Cutthroat Island Dawg's Pirate
1999 The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc English Judge
2000 Gladiator Engineer
2003 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Cotton
2005 Starfly Commander / Doctor
2006 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Cotton
2007 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Cotton
2007 Eddie Proctor Eddie Proctor
2007 The Comebacks Prisoner
2009 Shadows in the Wind Mr. Behrman
2011 Pirates of the Caribbean: Tales of the Code – Wedlocked Cotton
2014 October 1 Ackerman
2015 Artificio Conceal Vitruvius
2017 The Beyond (2017) Professor Jakob Brukiehm


Year TV Series Role
1975 BBC Play of the Month: The Little Minister Sergeant Davidson
1977 Doctor Who: The Robots of Death Dask
1978 Blake's 7: "Project Avalon" Chevner
1979 The First Part of King Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry Surnamed Hotspur Second Carrier
2001 Fire, Plague, War and Treason (mini-series) Self (documentary series examining the plague years in Great Britain).
2001 Attila Shaman


  1. ^ "Bailie, David 1937–". World Cat. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  2. ^ "Pirates of the Caribbean parrot attacks police officer". The Telegraph. United Kingdom. 11 September 2009.
  3. ^ http://www.kaldorcity.com/people/bailie.html
  4. ^ http://www.kaldorcity.com/people/bailie.html
  5. ^ "Photographer – Kensington – London – davidbailie -portraits & landscape". davidbailie.co.uk. Retrieved 19 September 2017.

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