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Michael Barrymore
Born Michael Ciaran Parker
4 May 1952 (1952-05-04) (age 57)
Bermondsey, London, England
Years active 1976 - 2010
Spouse(s) Cheryl Barrymore
(1976 - 1997)
Domestic partner(s) Shaun Davis
(1997 - 2007)

Michael Ciaran Parker (born 4 May 1952) is a former comedian and better known by his stage name Michael Barrymore, who appeared as a presenter of game shows and light entertainment programmes on British television in the 1990s. These included Strike It Lucky, My Kind of People, My Kind of Music and Kids Say the Funniest Things. He headlined the 1995 Royal Variety Performance and was voted the UK's favourite TV star several times, becoming one of the highest-paid stars on TV.

Barrymore's career went downhill after the March 2001 death of Stuart Lubbock in his swimming pool. Since then he has appeared on Celebrity Big Brother and other shows including The Friday Night Project, The Bigger Picture with Graham Norton, This Morning, The Sharon Osbourne Show and an erotic appearance on The Saturday Night Show.



Early career

Michael Barrymore spent his early career working as a Redcoat at Butlins holiday camps, and then in the West End theatre shows of London, where he met dancer Cheryl St Claire in 1974. They married in 1976,[1] With Cheryl as manager and the mastermind behind Barrymore's meteoric rise, he firstly won a 1979 edition of New Faces, and then became a regular panelist on Blankety Blank and the warm-up man for Larry Grayson on the Generation Game.[2]. From there Barrymore rose to fame presenting his own show, "The Michael Barrymore Show", and also appeared in a number of Royal Variety Performance shows. He became the host of ITV entertainment shows Strike It Lucky (which later became Strike It Rich) from 1986, followed by a talent show Michael Barrymore's My Kind of People[3] and gameshow Michael Barrymore's My Kind of Music together with Kids Say the Funniest Things. Barrymore was voted the UK's favourite TV star several times, and became one of the highest-paid stars on TV[4].

Coming out

At the height of his popularity, Barrymore suffered increasing alcohol problems. Barrymore claims he wanted to seek help, but that Cheryl continually told him: "No, you're not (alcoholic). Don't be stupid."[5]

In mid-1995, Barrymore went to a pub The White Swan in London's East End, where he serenaded a startled crowd of muscled young skinheads with the words: "Start spreading the news- I'm gay today". Within 48 hours, every tabloid newspaper had printed its own version of the evening's events, including an untrue claim that the star had thrown away his wedding ring.[6]

After appearing as the headline act on the 1995 Royal Variety Performance, where he sang a version of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow with the Queen's Guard gun drill, in November 1995, Barrymore attended the National Television Awards, where, clearly drunk, he made a rambling, incoherent speech. At an after-show party on a live late night radio show, he publicly declared he was gay and "no longer wanted to live a lie", following which he split with Cheryl. Cheryl later claimed that Barrymore took the step and did not tell her because of his talks with Diana, Princess of Wales.[7]


After several aborted reunions, Cheryl and Michael divorced in 1997 and Cheryl went on to publish the autobiography[8] Catch a Falling Star which contained details of their acrimonious split. The couple subsequently had no contact, and Cheryl at her request ceased to be Barrymore's agent or manager.

Barrymore later suggested in his 2006 autobiography Awight Now: Setting the Record Straight that Cheryl was a control freak who controlled his every movement including his clothes,[9] and she had created the character that was "Michael Barrymore", which consequently drove him to alcohol, drugs and gay affairs.[10]

In an interview in 2002, Barrymore admitted that he is an alcoholic.[11]

On 1 April 2005, Cheryl Barrymore died at the age of 55 at St John and St Elizabeth Hospital in St John's Wood, having been diagnosed with lung cancer just six weeks earlier. Shortly before her death she asked that details of her condition be kept secret from her former husband, and also left instructions that he should not be invited to attend her funeral.[12]

Death of Stuart Lubbock

Following a party in the early hours of 31 March 2001, 31-year-old meat inspector Stuart Lubbock died after three witnesses, including Barrymore himself, claimed to have found him motionless in Barrymore's swimming pool. All charges were dropped when it later came to court, though witnesses could not agree on whether he was found floating on top of the pool or at the bottom of it.[13] The cause of death was found to be drowning. Lubbock, described as a "bubbly partygoer", had traces of drugs and alcohol in his system. Pathologists discovered severe anal injuries which some said were consistent with a sexual assault.[14]

Many tabloid newspapers accused Barrymore of holding drug-fuelled gay orgies in his home and asserted that he must have had some responsibility for the death. It was claimed that Barrymore had been seen at the party forcing cocaine onto Lubbock's gums,[15] an allegation Barrymore denied.

Barrymore subsequently received a police caution for possession and use of cannabis, but no other charges were laid against him or anyone else in connection with the death, although two other party-goers, unemployed Justin Merritt and drag queen Jonathan Kenney were arrested on suspicion of murder on 6 June 2001. The inquest that took place in September 2002 reached an open verdict.

In light of the verdict, and the fact that she was approached by a friend of the Lubbock family, Cheryl Barrymore provided the Lubbock family solicitor with both a sworn affidavit and subsequent court testimony that her ex-husband had lied under oath, and could in fact swim. She also alleged the entertainer had rubbed cocaine on to the gums of other people as well as himself.[16]

In November 2002 Barrymore's lawyers successfully demanded that Essex Police re-investigate matters surrounding Lubbock's death. Their focus was on Barrymore's allegations that the injuries inflicted upon Lubbock's body could have occurred while lying unguarded in the mortuary. A pathologist's report found that Lubbock's wounds were only four hours old at the time of the examination at 4pm, while Lubbock had been pronounced dead at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow at 8.20am that morning.[17] On his claims, Barrymore told Five Live: "We want to prove the fact that the anal injuries could not have happened at the house." He added: "If these injuries had happened then, why have the police not charged anyone with anything?"[18]

On Barrymore's high-profile return to the UK in January 2006 to take part in Celebrity Big Brother, Essex lawyer and local activist Anthony Bennett initiated a private prosecution, comprising six charges regarding Barrymore's alleged misuse of drink and drugs on the night of the younger Lubbock's death. The action commenced in Epping Magistrates Court on 16 January 2006.

On 10 February 2006, a District Judge at Southend Magistrates' Court blocked the private prosecution against Barrymore on the grounds of insufficient evidence being available for the case to continue. Anthony Bennett is not a solicitor nor is he solicitor or lawyer of Terry Lubbock.

In an interview with Piers Morgan in the December 2006 edition of GQ magazine, Barrymore claimed there were other witnesses to the events who were hiding information.

On 2 December 2006, police announced they were re-opening the investigation into Stuart Lubbock's death. The re-investigation followed a lengthy dossier submitted by Anthony Bennett, who was now Terry Lubbock's solicitor, cataloguing a series of alleged failures by Essex Police in the original investigation and claiming that there had been an elaborate cover-up of the true circumstances of Lubbock's death.[19] [20]

On 22 December 2006, following a successful complaint to the Press Complaints Commission by Bennett, The Sun published a letter from Terry Lubbock replying to the newspaper's five-page feature on Barrymore earlier in the year which featured Terry's meeting with Barrymore.

On 1 March 2007, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, following a complaint lodged the previous December by Terry Lubbock, announced an investigation into aspects of the police inquiry into Lubbock's death after receiving complaints from the Lubbock family. It was reported that complaints surrounded information Essex Police gave to a coroner and pathologist after Lubbock's death. In May the I.P.C.C. agreed with Terry Lubbock a schedule of no fewer than 36 separate complaints relating to the original investigation into Lubbock's death[21][22]

On 14 June 2007, Essex police arrested Barrymore and two other men on suspicion of murder and serious sexual assault in the Lubbock case. The two other men arrested were Jonathan Kenney, Barrymore's lover and partner at the time of the death, and Justin Merritt, an unemployed former dustman at the time. The three men were held for questioning at South Woodham Ferrers Police Station, Essex. [23] [24][25] This followed reports in The Harlow Herald that police had seized tapes from the home of Barrymore's literary agent Tony Cowell allegedly containing conversations between Cowell and Barrymore.[26] On 15 June 2007, police were given permission to question Barrymore and one other man for a further 12 hours. Barrymore's solicitor Henri Brandman also confirmed his client was one of the men arrested.[27]

Later that day Barrymore was released on police bail pending further enquiries.[28] His solicitor stated that Barrymore "categorically denied" the allegations made and had not been charged with any offence.[29]

On 31 July 2007 it was announced that Barrymore had been re-bailed to appear at an Essex Police Station on 10 September.[30] He answered bail on 10 September at a police station in Harlow, Essex. Police were then granted a further 12 hours to question him.[31] On that date, Barrymore was told that he would not face charges for the events that occurred.[32]

Career revival

Following the revelations of Lubbock's death, ITV terminated his contract and his UK TV career subsequently collapsed. A new series of Kids Say the Funniest Things recorded prior to the scandal was pulled from the ITV schedule and never broadcast. The Guardian reported that the BBC cancelled publication of Barrymore's life story[33].

In September 2003, Barrymore staged a one-man show at London's Wyndham's Theatre, which closed after a few days. He subsequently emigrated to New Zealand to live with his partner, Shaun Davis. He has since had live stage shows in New Zealand and Australia. In 2005, he appeared in the stage musical, Chicago, in Napier, New Zealand.

Celebrity Big Brother

In December 2005, it was announced that Barrymore was being paid £150,000 by Channel 4 to take part in the British version of Celebrity Big Brother commencing 5 January 2006. On his entry into the house, Barrymore received a generally positive reception from the crowd which brought him to tears.[citation needed]

Barrymore initially showed signs of strain in the Big Brother house, particularly during the first few days.[citation needed] His time in the house will particularly be remembered for his visibly strong dislike of model Jodie Marsh,[34] and his difficult relationship with housemate George Galloway, which culminated in a 20 minute slanging match between the two men that became one of the defining moments of the series. The public clearly took to Barrymore,[citation needed] and on 27 January 2006 he finished runner-up to Chantelle Houghton. Barrymore was visibly moved by the public support he had received when interviewed by Davina McCall after the show.[citation needed]

After Big Brother

Remaining in the UK, Barrymore was booked to be the guest host on Channel 4's The Friday Night Project for the edition broadcast on 3 February 2006.

It was announced that for Christmas 2006, Barrymore would play the title role in Bill Kenwright's new production of Scrooge - The Musical"[35] Barrymore performed the lead role at the Empire Theatre, Sunderland, but the production's scheduled transfer to the West End was cancelled.

After Barrymore had completed his role in Scrooge - The Musical, he returned to New Zealand with Shaun Davis, his on-and-off partner since 1997. The relationship soon turned sour however, and by March 2007, the pair had split.[36]

In January 2008, Barrymore took the role of comedian and writer Spike Milligan in the stage play 'Surviving Spike'.

In June 2008, The Sun newspaper ran a story claiming that Barrymore had been on a heavy drinking session by himself.[37]

In November 2009, it was revealed that Barrymore has been working as an odd job man for a vehicle bodyworks business in Epping, Essex. It was reported that he had battled drink and drugs and spent most of 2009 working hard to stay clean and sober.[38]

The Saturday Night Show (2010)

On the 6 February 2010, Barrymore appeared as a guest on the RTÉ chat show The Saturday Night Show presented by Brendan O'Connor. Michael Barrymore has stunned fans after making a bizarre TV appearance in which he pretended to be a chicken, a sheep - then claimed to be Jedward's dad and went into the audience and kissed their mother. [39][40]

TV credits


  1. ^
  2. ^,,587474,00.html
  3. ^ "". British Film Institute. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Alcoholics Anonymous Reviews: Cheryl stopped drink help
  6. ^ The Observer Profile: Michael Barrymore | News | The Observer
  7. ^ TCM Breaking News - 2002/10/19: Diana friendship may have helped Barrymore's downfall, says wife Cheryl
  8. ^ BFI | Film & TV Database | The CHERYL BARRYMORE STORY (2002)
  9. ^ My kind of autobiography - News
  10. ^
  11. ^ Barrymore's GMTV interview
  12. ^ BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Barrymore ex-wife dies of cancer
  13. ^ BBC NEWS | England | Open verdict at pool death inquest
  14. ^ Judd, Terri. "Open verdict on partygoer found dead at star's home". The Independent. 14 Sept 2002
  15. ^ TCM Breaking News - 2002/09/12: Barrymore 'rubbed cocaine on party victim's gums'
  16. ^ Scotland on Sunday
  17. ^ Why I'm not bitter | Media | The Guardian
  18. ^ Author unknown. "New Barrymore pool death inquiry". BBC News. 14 Jan 2003
  19. ^ BBC NEWS | UK | New Barrymore pool death inquiry
  20. ^ Police To Reopen Michael Barrymore Death Investigation - Entertainment News, Movie Reviews, Competitions - Entertainmentwise
  21. ^ BBC NEWS | UK | Review into Lubbock death inquiry
  22. ^ [1] Lubbock death inquiry by IPCC
  23. ^ Barrymore arrested over pool death
  24. ^ "Pool death police hold Barrymore". BBC News. 14 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  25. ^ "'Michael Barrymore arrested on suspicion of pool murder after police seize tapes'". Daily Mail. June 14, 2007. 
  26. ^ "Tapes clue". 15 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  27. ^ "More time to question Barrymore". BBC News. 15 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  28. ^ Press Association (June 16, 2007). "I'm innocent, says freed Barrymore". The Guardian.,,-6713765,00.html. Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  29. ^ "Barrymore released without charge". BBC News. 15 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  30. ^ Barrymore bail extended
  31. ^ Michael Barrymore held over pool death - Telegraph
  32. ^ BBC NEWS "Barrymore will not face charges". BBC NEWS. 
  33. ^ BBC backtracks on Barrymore book | Media | MediaGuardian
  34. ^ Column five: Germaine Greer | Media | The Guardian
  35. ^ Barrymore to star as Scrooge in city - News
  36. ^ The Sun, 9 April 2007
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^

Extra reading

External links

Simple English

Michael Barrymore (born 4 May, 1952) is an English comedian and light entertainer. He presented shows including Strike it Lucky and My Kind of Music. He was married to Cheryl Barrymore. He later announced he was gay and she divorced him. He was in trouble after Stuart Lubbock was found dead in his pool. He used to have late night chats with Princess Diana when he had trouble with alcoholism. Recently he has returned to the theatre and was in a play as Spike Milligan.

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