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Telly Today: From celebrity downfall to Blackpool ballroom


Telly Today: From celebrity downfall to Blackpool ballroom

TV picks for Saturday, November 18th…


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. 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, when 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 of Stuart’s indecent assault and murder.

Barrymore’s multiple attempts to resurrect his career have since failed due to the dark cloud of Stuart’s death and the 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.

Channel 5 at 9 pm


Strictly broadcasts live from the iconic Blackpool Tower Ballroom this evening as the remaining star names battle to make it towards the series final.

The annual trip to the once glorious seaside resort will be celebrated with an opening routine from the Beeb’s Strictly professional dancers before the remaining couples take to the most famous sprung dancefloor in the country and pull out all the stops with some spectacular routines.

Dancer Vito Coppola says of the Tower Ballroom, “It’s so magical. It’s about all the stories, all the great champions who have performed there before us. You can feel the vibe, you can feel it from the walls, from the floor. It’s unbelievable. Blackpool is the best competition, the best in the world.”

Fellow professional dancer Neil Jones also says of the Victorian ballroom, “It’s just amazing, especially the floor, it’s incredible how much it moves. As dancers, we really like a sprung floor. You can be sitting on the edge and you can be bouncing as everyone is dancing, so you feel the music even more. I have a lot of emotions and feelings about it. The way Strictly does everything up, the lighting, how they capture it with the cameras, for me makes it even more special.”

BBC One, 6.40 pm


What happened to the princes in the Tower? Did Richard III orchestrate the brutal murder of the two young princes in 1483 to seize the crown for himself? Or is this just a myth? Did the boys survive and return to fight for the throne?

A decade on from making worldwide headlines with the spectacular discovery of Richard III’s body beneath a Leicester car park, Philippa Langley is back. Armed with new leads, Philippa and criminal barrister Rob Rinder embark on a revelatory road trip into the heart of medieval Europe.

Will their ground-breaking discoveries uncover what really happened to England’s missing royals?

Channel 4, 8pm

Seaside ballroom fun on BBC One

Strictly Come Dancing heads to Blackpool

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