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Channel 5 chart the rise and fall of Michael Barrymore

Channel 5

Channel 5 chart the rise and fall of Michael Barrymore

In the late 1980s and throughout the 90s, Michael Barrymore was a universally-loved British TV presenter.

His anarchic quiz show Strike It Lucky (Thames TV/ITV) and chaotic self-titled variety show Barrymore (LWT/ITV) gained up to 20 million viewers every week. In the eyes of the public, he could do no wrong. As a warm-up comedian for the audience of the Generation Game host Larry Grayson spotted Michael’s talent and always said to him one day he’d be a big TV star. By the late-1980s Michael was hosting his own prime time variety show on BBC One with Michael Barrymore’s Saturday Night Out. But his massive popularity on-screen hid an unhappy private life.

Unable to replicate the euphoria he felt on screen, Barrymore often turned to drink and drugs – his wife and business manager Cheryl sending him to rehab to kick the demons that threatened his life and career.

Strike It Lucky – Michael Barrymore Thames TV/ITV

In 1995, Barrymore came out as gay during an era of homophobia in the British tabloid press – but his open homosexuality didn’t dent his popularity with shows like My Kind of Music (LWT/ITV) and Kids Say the Funniest Things (LWT/ITV) securing his reputation as an all-round family entertainer.

It wasn’t until a fateful night in 2001, where an after party at Barrymore’s luxury mansion in Essex ended his career and the life of a young man; Stuart Lubbock.

The sordid details of the night in question were aired in the media and a pathologist’s report concluded that Stuart had suffered severe sexual injuries prior to death taking place. Despite numerous arrests being made, no-one was charged or convicted with Stuart’s indecent assault and murder.

Strike It Rich – Michael Barrymore LWT/ITV

Barrymore’s multiple attempts to resurrect his career have since failed due to the dark cloud of Stuart’s death and campaign for justice by his father Terry Lubbock. While no new content has been forthcoming for Michael on TV he has proved a hit with TikTok viewers reaching millions with his content while Strike it Lucky, and its later series Strike it Rich, are regularly repeated on Challenge TV.

From the team behind documentaries on Noel Edmonds and Hughie Green, this feature-length biopic is packed with nostalgic TV moments, cinematic reconstructions and candid interviews with the people who witnessed first-hand Barrymore’s meteoric rise and colossal fall – featuring a moving interview with Stuart’s brother Kevin Lubbock. This film covers it all in an operatic saga of light entertainment and heavy drama, with a powerful portrait of a tragic character: Barrymore.

Michael Barrymore: Rise & Fall of Mr Saturday Night airs on Channel 5 at 9pm on Saturday, December 18th.

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