Comedian Bill Bailey tells Katherine MacAlister about a very special gig

A surprise last minute booking at the New Theatre not only contains some of the top names in comedy, from Bill Bailey to Sara Pascoe, but is also in aid of Oxford conservation charity the Sumatran Orangutan Society.

SOS is putting on the comedy night at the New Theatre on Monday which also features the likes of Rob Newman, Tony Law, and Paul Foot, with all proceeds supporting work to protect orangutans and their rainforests in Sumatra.

This astonishing line-up of comedians, who are coming together for one night only in aid of ‘OrangAid’, will be headlined by Bill Bailey, who is patron of the charity.

Bill is passionate about wildlife, environmental issues and conservation, and frequently spends time in Indonesia. He recently provided the voice for Armstrong, an animated orangutan, as part of the charity’s celebrations to mark the planting of the millionth tree at their rainforest restoration site in Sumatra.“The first time I saw orangutans in the wild was in Sumatra, in the Gunung Leuser National Park.

“We were pootling up the river on a boat, and our guide stopped and pointed – there was a female orangutan with her baby, just swinging through the trees. “It was just an amazing moment, fantastic, to see a creature so perfectly evolved in its habitat. “This moment was one of the great privileges of all my travels around the world,” Bill says.

“I think the orangutan is such an amazing animal, a fantastic ambassador for the Sumatran rainforest. “It really strikes a chord with people, they look so human in their facial expressions. This is a creature which is incredibly at one with its environment, and yet here it is, here we are, in a situation where it could actually just blink out, if we don’t do something about it. It would be a disaster if through inaction, or just ignorance, an incredible creature like the Sumatran orangutan could just disappear.

“People can get involved, in a very meaningful way, by supporting the Sumatran Orangutan Society. “Educate yourself about what’s going on and what SOS are doing to turn the situation around for the orangutan. Donate if you can, spread the word, everyone can do something.”

With only around 6,600 surviving in the wild, it is predicted that the Sumatran orangutan will be the first Great Ape species to go extinct if we don’t act now to save their rainforest home.

Helen Buckland, director of the Sumatran Orangutan Society, said: “OrangAid promises to be a very special night, and the funds raised will make a huge difference to our work. This is a great way to support a local charity while having a fantastic night out.”

All proceeds from the evening will support the conservation of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan, and the comedians are donating their time to the cause.

OrangAid will take place at the New Theatre, Oxford on Monday. Tickets cost £25-35  from the theatre box office, call 0844 871 3020 or