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Redcoats Who Made The Big Time Back

Michael Barrymore

Written by Rocky Mason

Michael Barrymore: Born Michael Ciaran Parker in May 1952, changed to his stage name when he started in the entertainment business.

Michael became a Butlin Redcoat at Minehead in the early 70s and it was at Butlins that he created the zany, knockabout comedy which the public adored. One example of this was putting a woman from the audience over his shoulder and throwing her out of the theatre. As a General duty Redcoat Michael carried out the whole gamut of Redcoat duties, organizing competitions and events, running sing-songs and appearing in the weekly Redcoat Shows.

After he left Butlins he started to get small parts in a variety of London's West End theatre shows, where he met dancer Sheryl in 1974. They married in 1976 and with Sheryl as his manager he started his meteoric rise to showbiz fame. He first won a 1979 edition of "New Faces" and then became a regular panellist on "Blankety Blank" and warm-up man for Larry Grayson on the "Generation Game". From there he rose to fame presenting his own show "The Michael Barrymore Show" which enjoyed record breaking viewing figures, and also appeared in a number of Royal Command Performance shows. He became the host of ITVs highly popular "Strike It Lucky", followed by "Michael Barrymore's My Kind Of People" and was voted the Uks favourite TV star several times.

In my personal opinion this great man was a comic genius and one of the funniest, natural comedian's in my lifetime.

In 1995 Michael went to the White Swan pub in London's East End and startled a crowd of young drinkers by singing "Start Spreading The News - I'm gay today." Within 48 hours every tabloid newspaper had printed it's own version of the evenings events, including an untrue version that the star had thrown away his wedding ring. In my honest opinion this was the first step in a vile movement, by certain sections of the media, to try to bring Michael down. In November 1995 attending the National Television Awards, where, having clearly had a few drinks, he made a somewhat incoherent speech resulting in even more bad press. It cannot be denied that, on a great many occasions, the media have been extremely unkind.

Michael has recently claimed that he is no longer gay, I would question if he ever was, and is now in a relationship with a woman.

There have been other incidents in this former Redcoats life but I don't feel qualified to discuss them.

Red Brigden, the manager and his former colleagues on the entertainment staff at Minehead have confirmed that he was a well liked and enormously popular Redcoat. It cannot be denied that his career in the entertainment industry, albeit it far too short, was indeed a brilliant career. I have the view that he was not helped by the British press and I wish him well for the future.

I think Michael Barrymore is yet another example that goes to prove what I say in my book, "Butlins is the greatest launching pad for 'wannabe' talent in the entire world!"

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