David Bailie
Born(1937-12-04)4 December 1937[1]
Springs, South Africa
Died6 March 2021(2021-03-06) (aged 83)
Occupation(s)Actor, photographer, videographer, computer programmer, furniture maker/designer
Years active1961–2020
Egidija Bailie
(m. 2002⁠–⁠2021)

David Bailie (4 December 1937 – 6 March 2021) was a South African actor, known for his performances on stage, television and film.[3] In the 1960s and 1970s he worked for both the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he was an associate artist.[4] On TV he played "Dask" in the 1977 Doctor Who serial The Robots of Death, and also appeared in Blake's 7.[5][6] On film, he played "Skewer" in Cutthroat Island (1995), an English Judge in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999), and also "The Engineer" in Gladiator (2000).[3] David Bailie is perhaps best known for having played the mute pirate Cotton in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.[7] Bailie was also a professional photographer, specialising in portrait photography. He had a studio in West Kensington, London.[8]

Personal life

Bailie was born in Springs, South Africa on 4 December 1937, 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.[9] 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.

Bailie died on 6 March 2021 at the age of 83.[10]


This section's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. See Wikipedia's guide to writing better articles for suggestions. (October 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

In 1960 he moved to Britain from South Africa[11] 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 Rospettle. He then bluffed his way into weekly repertory in Barrow-in-Furness as juvenile lead – terrified all 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.[12]

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.[11]

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 understudied Olivier in different plays,[11] for instance 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.[13]

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 was 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.[9] He also played in a number of other series prominent at the time.[14]

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).[3]

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).[15] His character did not say a single line in the three films. According to Bailie, he found it to be a problem and proposed to director Gore Verbinski and writer Terry Rossio a storyline that Cotton was able to speak, but it was not included in films.[16]

In 2014, David joined the ensemble cast of British-American short Artificio Conceal [17] for the role of Vitruvius. The film, written and directed by Ayoub Qanir, was selected to film festivals worldwide including Cannes Film Festival's Short Film Corner [18], Edinburgh International Film Festival[19] and Seattle International Film Festival.[20]

Bailie reprised his Doctor Who role as Dask in the Kaldor City audio drama series.[21] He was also involved in Big Finish Productions audio dramas playing the "Celestial Toymaker".[22]

Bailie also worked as a professional photographer, portraiture and landscapes being his speciality.[8]

He established a YouTube channel, mdebailes, where he uploaded readings and performance excerpts.[23][24]



Year Title Role Notes
1961 Flame in the Streets Uncredited
1968 All's Well That Ends Well Morgan, a soldier TV film
1972 Henry VIII and His Six Wives Norris
1973 The Creeping Flesh Young Doctor
Son of Dracula Chauffeur
Wipers Three Lieutenant General Smuts TV film
1975 Legend of the Werewolf Boulon
1977 Golden Rendezvous Younger terrorist in car Uncredited
1979 The First Part of King Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry Surnamed Hotspur Second Carrier TV film
1995 Cutthroat Island Dawg's Pirate
1999 The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc English Judge
2000 Gladiator Engineer [25]
2003 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Cotton
2005 Starfly Commander / Doctor Short
2006 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Cotton
2007 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Eddie Proctor Eddie Proctor Short
The Comebacks Prisoner
2009 Shadows in the Wind Mr. Behrman Short
2011 Pirates of the Caribbean: Tales of the Code – Wedlocked Cotton Short
Tribe Wentzelow
2013 Traveller
2014 October 1 Ackerman
Artificio Conceal Vitruvius Short[17]
2015 The Timber Sheriff Snow [26]
2017 The Beyond Professor Jakob Brukiehm [27][28]
2018 The House That Jack Built S.P.
2019 In the Trap Father Andrew
2020 Darbar Drug Overlord Uncredited


Year Title Role Notes
1966 Ransom for a Pretty Girl Colonel Caron Mini-series
1971 The Fenn Street Gang Student Episode: "Leave It to Me, Darling"
1972 The Visitors New porter Mini-series
Adam Smith Reverend Douglas Black 2 episodes
1973 The Regiment Commandant De Jong Episode: "Ambush"
1974 Play for Today Daniel Tasker Episode: "The Lonely Man's Lover"
1975 Churchill's People Bertram Episode: "Silver Giant, Wooden Dwarf"
Softly, Softly: Task Force Scooby Episode: "Whose Side Are You On?"
Play of the Month Sergeant Davidson Episode: "The Little Minister"
Marcade Episode: "Love's Labour's Lost"
1976 Plays for Britain Disc jockey Episode: "Hitting Town"
1977 Warship Panmuir Episode: "Wind Song"
Doctor Who Dask Episode: "The Robots of Death"
1978 Blake's 7 Chevner Episode: "Project Avalon"
The Onedin Line Branigan Episode: "The Reverend's Daughter"
1997 The New Adventures of Robin Hood Outlaw Mills Episode: "Outlaw Express"
2001 Attila the Hun Shaman Mini-series
2009 Doctor Who: The Sixth Doctor Adventures The Celestial Toymaker Episode: "The Nightmare Fair"
2012 Sinbad Brother Angelico Episode: "Fiend or Friend?"


  1. ^ "Bailie, David 1937–". World Cat. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  2. ^ GRO Index, 1984-2021
  3. ^ a b c "David Bailie". BFI. Archived from the original on 22 April 2018.
  4. ^ "David Bailie | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com.
  5. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Robots of Death - Details". www.bbc.co.uk.
  6. ^ "Project Avalon (1978)". BFI. Archived from the original on 30 December 2018.
  7. ^ "Pirates of the Caribbean parrot attacks police officer". The Telegraph. United Kingdom. 11 September 2009.
  8. ^ a b "Photographer – Kensington – London – davidbailie -portraits & landscape". davidbailie.co.uk. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  9. ^ a b "The Man Behind the Mask: Interview with David Bailie". www.kaldorcity.com.
  10. ^ "David Bailie". Archived from the original on 21 February 2022. Retrieved 21 February 2022.
  11. ^ a b c "Pirates of the caribbean: at world's end - Disney". Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  12. ^ "David Bailie — RADA". www.rada.ac.uk.
  13. ^ "Search | RSC Performances | Shakespeare Birthplace Trust". collections.shakespeare.org.uk.
  14. ^ "David Bailie". www.aveleyman.com.
  15. ^ "David Bailie | Movies and Filmography". AllMovie.
  16. ^ "Original 'Pirates of the Caribbean' Stars on Regrets, Triumphs and a $2 Million Snack Budget". The Hollywood Reporter. 28 May 2017.
  17. ^ a b "David Bailie joins Artificio Conceal" – via Screendaily.
  18. ^ "Artificio Conceal selected to Cannes" – via Digital Journal.
  19. ^ "Artificio Conceal nominated for best short at EIFF". 5 June 2015 – via Top 10 Films.
  20. ^ "SIFF Official Selection" (PDF) – via Seattle International Film Festival.
  21. ^ "Kaldor City - Taren Capel - Audio Drama". www.reviewgraveyard.com.
  22. ^ "4.12. Doctor Who - The Companion Chronicles: Solitaire - Doctor Who - The Companion Chronicles - Big Finish". www.bigfinish.com.
  23. ^ "davidbailie actor". davidbailie.photium.com. Archived from the original on 27 May 2021. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  24. ^ "mdebailes - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  25. ^ FERNANDO GARCÍA (11 March 2021). "ADIÓS AL PIRATA COTTON Muere el actor David Bailie, el bucanero sin lengua de 'Piratas del Caribe'" (in Spanish).
  26. ^ DVD Review – The Timber (2015)
  27. ^ ‘The Beyond’ Trailer
  28. ^ New Official Trailer for Hasraf 'HaZ' Dulull's Space Sci-Fi 'The Beyond'