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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
Barrymore's turbulent life
Michael Barrymore
Barrymore became one of Britain's most popular stars
Michael Barrymore's announcement that he has quit his UK comeback show after only three performances marks the latest dramatic chapter in his turbulent life.

It will leave pundits asking whether this really is the final bow of the 51-year-old entertainer, once one of the UK's most beloved stars.

He has lived under a cloud for more than two years, following the death of Stuart Lubbock, found in a swimming pool at his house in March 2001.

Barrymore's showbusiness career has seen him struggle with a troubled private life and a battle with drink and drugs.

Born Michael Parker in 1952, he changed his surname after reading a book about actors Lionel and John Barrymore.

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, back in London, in the toy department of Selfridges department store on Oxford Street.
Michael Barrymore
Barrymore has lived under a cloud since a man died in his pool

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.

Rumours

Making a name for himself on TV shows including the BBC's Get Set Go and ITV's Strike It Lucky, Barrymore became known as something of a workaholic - and in time, one of the best paid comics on TV.

After years of rumours, Barrymore 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 apparently tormented by his sexuality, he was to go through several failed reunions with Cheryl.

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

Michael Barrymore
He has told of his regret over Mr Lubbock's death
But London Weekend Television introduced him to new ventures, and he presented My Kind of Music and Kids Do the Funniest Things.

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

Clinic

But controversy was never far away - in 2000 he was warned by police over a quantity of drugs which were found in the hotel room in which he was staying.

Early in 2001 he reportedly appeared drunk on stage at a fundraising event for a children's charity at a London hotel.

His latest round of troubles began when Stuart Lubbock, 31, died in hospital on Saturday 31 March 2001 after being found unconscious in a swimming pool at the entertainer's home in Roydon, Essex.

The next day Barrymore checked into the Marchwood Priory in Southampton, a clinic commonly used by celebrities battling addictions and depression.

Barrymore was again questioned by police on 6 June 2001 on suspicion of drugs offences, and released on bail without charge.

Michael Barrymore
Barrymore has battled against drink and drugs
Police also carried out a detailed forensic search at Barrymore's house.

That summer ITV put Barrymore's upcoming series Kids Say the Funniest Things on hold, but said it would not abandon the star.

But worse was to come for Barrymore. In September his mother Margaret died aged 89 from throat cancer.

On 11 October 2001 police officially cautioned Barrymore for possessing cannabis and for allowing premises to be used for the smoking of cannabis.

Later in October Barrymore spoke publicly for the first time about the events.

Interviewed by journalist Martin Bashir, Barrymore said: "I can't imagine how Stuart Lubbock's family are feeling.

"I'm terribly sorry, I'm sorry for Stuart, he didn't deserve to die."

"I didn't know how it happened or what happened, to this day I don't know what happened to him," he added.

There was better news on 23 October, when Barrymore won a National Television Award for his show My Kind Of Music - seen by many as a public vote of confidence in the star.

Michael Barrymore
He will not quit showbusiness, his manager has said.

In March 2002 detectives said no charges would be brought over the death of Mr Lubbock, though a file had been prepared for the coroner.

Bad notices

He is understood to have been undergoing further treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction during the period since the party.

In May this year he began the process of trying to rebuild his career with a low-key tour of New Zealand and Australia.

But in the UK, readers of The Sun seemed less happy about the prospect of a comeback, attacking him as "disgusting and disgraceful".

Despite this week's first night ovation, ticket sales were reportedly poor and he received some bad notices from critics.

His manager said he would now take a break before considering his next step - which may involve another stint down under.

So far Barrymore has managed to bounce back from a string personal and career reverses.

Whether he can do it yet again is another question.




SEE ALSO:
Barrymore quits comeback show
19 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
Barrymore's unconvincing return
17 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
Barrymore's comeback stalls
19 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
Barrymore 'deserves another chance'
23 Aug 03  |  Entertainment



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