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Sunday, 1 April, 2001, 02:42 GMT 03:42 UK
Barrymore's troubled life
Michael Barrymore has experienced the highs and lows of fame
Barrymore announced he was gay in a radio interview
Police are continuing investigations into the death of a man found face down in a swimming pool at the home of Michael Barrymore.

It is the latest turbulent episode in the life of the entertainer which has kept him constantly in the newspaper headlines.

Michael Barrymore has experienced the highs and lows of a showbusiness career, which has seen him struggle with a troubled private life and a battle with drink and drugs.

Barrymore, 48, announced he was gay in 1995 in an extraordinary late night radio interview and subsequently moved out of the home he had shared with Cheryl - his manager and wife of 20 years.

After his public admission, he became active on the gay scene, but tormented by his sexuality, he was to go through several failed reunions with Cheryl.

In interviews he admitted he was confused and thought he was cracking up.


I try to be all things to all people, and then when I start feeling the pressure I do a runner

Michael Barrymore

He said: "My brain jumps all over the place, from one thought to another.

"I try to be all things to all people, and then when I start feeling the pressure I do a runner.

"I chase around all the time trying to find the high I get on stage."

Barrymore was born Michael Parker, but changed his surname after reading a book about actors Lionel and John Barrymore.

Unhappy childhood

His childhood in Bermondsey, south-east London, was marred by unhappiness.

His father left home when Barrymore was 11.

He left school at 15 and worked as a Butlin's Redcoat and in the toy department of Selfridge's department store in London.

Barrymore and ex-wife Cheryl
Michael and Cheryl: Married in 1976

But his career only took off under the guidance of his wife Cheryl, who he met when she was a dancer in a West End show. They married in 1976.

Workaholic Barrymore is one of the best paid TV comics, making a name for himself on shows including Strike It Lucky.

But his career took a downturn in the mid 1990s when viewing figures slumped on his variety shows.

London Weekend Television introduced him to new ventures, however, presenting My Kind of Music and Kids Do The Funniest Things.

He even tried his hand at acting in the television series Bob Martin.

Controversy

But controversy was never far away - last year he was warned by police over a quantity of drugs which were found in the hotel room in which he was staying.

Two weeks ago he reportedly embarrassed a children's charity after he was said to have appeared drunk on stage at a fundraising event at the Hilton Hotel, London.

Also this month it emerged that Barrymore had split with long-term boyfriend Shaun Davis, 24, a former stockbroker, who he "married" at a ceremony 18 months ago.

The couple were converting a house in Roydon, Essex, and planned to adopt a child.

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See also:

11 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Barrymore is viewers' favourite
16 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Barrymore plans gay fatherhood
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