Michael Barrymore

Michael Barrymore
Born Michael Ciaran Parker
(1952-05-04) 4 May 1952
Bermondsey, London, England
Occupation Comedian, actor, broadcaster
Years active 1976–2002,[1] 2003,[2] 2006,[3] 2009–2011
Spouse(s) Cheryl Barrymore (m. 1976–97) (divorced)

Michael Ciaran Parker (born 4 May 1952),[4] better known by his stage name Michael Barrymore, is an English comedian and television presenter of game shows and light entertainment programmes on British television in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. These included Strike It Lucky, My Kind of People, My Kind of Music and Kids Say the Funniest Things.

At his peak Barrymore was widely considered one of the most popular and revered performers in the UK. He headlined the 1993 Royal Variety Performance and also appeared at the 1983 Royal Variety Performance. Barrymore was voted the UK's favourite television star several times, becoming one of the highest-paid stars on television. He presented the popular game-show Strike it Lucky as well as his own variety show Barrymore. He starred in a comedy drama called Bob Martin (2000–01), in which he played the title role of a failing television game-show host. Since his peak of popularity in the mid-1990s, Barrymore has appeared on Celebrity Big Brother and other shows including The Friday Night Project, Graham Norton's Bigger Picture, This Morning, The Sharon Osbourne Show and The Saturday Night Show.


Early life

Born Michael Ciaran Parker in Bermondsey, he lived in the Dickens estate for the first 18 years of his life with his two elder siblings.[5] His father left when Barrymore was 11 and they never saw each other again. Barrymore and his siblings were raised in the Roman Catholic faith of their mother, Margaret.[5]


Early career

Barrymore spent his early career working as a Redcoat at Butlins holiday camps, and then in the West End theatre shows of London, where he met dancer and lifelong friend Cheryl St Claire in 1974. They married in 1976,[6] With Cheryl as manager and the mastermind behind Barrymore's rise to fame, he first won a 1979 edition of New Faces, and then became a regular panellist on Blankety Blank and the warm-up man for Larry Grayson on the Generation Game.[7] and also for Little and Large theatre shows. In the early days, Barrymore used to do impressions of John Cleese and Norman Wisdom, among others.[8]

Television career 19762002

From there Barrymore rose to fame via appearances on Blankety Blank and Who Do You Do? and his television career began firstly by getting his own sketch show entitled, The Michael Barrymore Show in 1983, which starred a young Nicholas Lyndhurst, and he also appeared in Russ Abbott's Madhouse as various characters between 1981 and 1982. He walked out of his contract with LWT, who produced The Michael Barrymore Show, after only one series, he then landed the presenter's role on the BBC gameshow, Get Set Go!.[9] He appeared in a number of Royal Variety Performance shows, his first being in 1983. He became the host of ITV gameshow Strike It Lucky (which later became Strike It Rich) in 1986 and it grew in popularity over the years and this was watched by 18 million viewers at its peak.[10]

This was Barrymore's first successful presenting role (Get Set Go! had been cancelled after only one single series[9]), which led then to his own light entertainment show, Barrymore which began in 1991 and ran until 2000. He had his own show between 1988 and 1989, produced for the BBC entitled Michael Barrymore's Saturday Night Out,[11] it was set in Jersey and the theme tune, Doin' the Crab had been released as a single in 1987.

In 1991, Barrymore was given his own show entitled Barrymore and he interviewed guests, performed his comedy routines and joined in with other performers on the show. The show lasted throughout the 1990s and was consistently nominated for awards over the years in the UK. Many famous guests appeared on Barrymore including Cliff Richard, Uri Geller and Spike Milligan.

Following his appearance on the 1993 Royal Variety Performance, where he performed a version of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" with soldiers, he became popular on television and on the stage. The Royal Variety Show performance brought the house down and cemented Barrymore's place at the heart of the British public. Following on from the success, Barrymore went into rehab due to his alcohol and drug addiction. He left after a couple of months and went on to write a best-selling book about his experiences and he also went on a stage tour called Back in Business in 1994.[12]

A spin-off talent show My Kind of People[13] and game show My Kind of Music followed the success of both Barrymore and Strike it Rich. Following a dip in ratings, Barrymore was cancelled in 1997 (it later returned in 2000). He went on to new projects with Kids Say the Funniest Things, Animals Do the Funniest Things and Barrymore on Broadway.[14] He was voted the UK's favourite TV star several times, and became one of the highest-paid stars on TV.[15] Barrymore is the last person, before Ant and Dec to win ITV's Most Popular Entertainment Presenter, he won it in the year 2000 and since then Ant and Dec have retained the title for the past 13 years.[14]

Barrymore became well known through his catchphrases of "Awight!", on making his entrance, and on Strike It Lucky, "Top, middle or bottom?" and "What is a hot spot not?", to which the studio audience would reply "Not a good spot." He had a very public battle with substance abuse in 1994 and wrote a book about his experience in rehab. He regained his former status and made another series of Barrymore and recorded a new series called My Kind of People. He came out as gay in 1995 and split from his wife in 1996. He made a new series of Strike it Lucky, now called Strike it Rich and another Barrymore series. More editions of Strike it Rich and Barrymore were shown in 1997 and he also appeared in Spice World as Mr. Step. He recorded two new series called My Kind of Music and Kids Say The Funniest Things in 1998 along with more Strike it Rich. Newer editions of all three series were shown and another series of Barrymore was recorded and shown in 2000. The year 2000 also saw Barrymore move into acting in Bob Martin where he played the character of Bob Martin, he recorded two series of the comedy (2000–01).[14] Barrymore also presented a second series of Kids Say The Funniest Things which aired in late 2000 and also a fourth series of My Kind Of Music which was on the air at the time that Stuart Lubbock died in Barrymore's pool on the 31st of March 2001. Following Lubbock's death, both Bob Martin and My Kind of Music stayed on the air but whilst the investigation was ongoing he did not record anymore programmes for ITV. They constantly backed him when asked by the newspapers and simply waited for investigations to conclude. In October 2001, Barrymore was given a drugs caution[16] and began recording a new series of My Kind of Music. There had been talks of him recording a Christmas special called Barrymore's My Kind of Christmas but due to public outrage this was shelved. My Kind of Music aired in early 2002. The inquest into Lubbock's death began in September 2002 and due to revelations about Barrymore's private life and his refusal to answer key question relating to drugs he was sacked by ITV following the conclusion of the inquest.

Career revivals

Following the revelation of Lubbock's death, ITV terminated his contract and his United Kingdom television career subsequently collapsed. A new series of Kids Say the Funniest Things recorded prior to the scandal was pulled from the ITV schedule and never broadcast. The Guardian reported that the BBC cancelled publication of Barrymore's life story.[17] In September 2003, Barrymore staged a one-man show at London's Wyndham's Theatre, which closed after a few days. He subsequently emigrated to New Zealand to live with his partner, Shaun Davis. He has since had live stage shows in New Zealand and Australia. In 2005, he appeared in Chicago in Napier, New Zealand.

Celebrity Big Brother

In December 2005, it was announced that Barrymore was being paid £150,000 by Channel 4 to take part in Celebrity Big Brother commencing 5 January 2006.[18] He had a difficult relationship with housemate George Galloway, which culminated in a 20-minute slanging match between the two men. On 27 January 2006 he finished runner-up to Chantelle Houghton, whom Michael deemed a deserving winner.[14]

After Celebrity Big Brother

Remaining in the UK, Barrymore was booked to be the guest host on Channel 4's The Friday Night Project for the edition broadcast on 3 February 2006. This is the last time that Barrymore appeared on a show as the presenter. The weeks and months following Barrymore's appearance on Big Brother was full of speculation that Barrymore was in talks with a number of television of channels over the possibility of new shows, but nothing ever came of this. Barrymore's appearance on the Friday Night Project is the last time he presented a primetime television show.[14]

It was announced that for Christmas 2006, Barrymore would play the title role in Bill Kenwright's production of Scrooge – The Musical. He performed the lead role at the Empire Theatre, Sunderland, but the production's scheduled transfer to the West End was cancelled. In January 2008, Barrymore took the role of comedian and writer Spike Milligan in the stage play Surviving Spike. It played Windsor and later the Edinburgh Fringe, but again, its West End transfer was cancelled. In February 2010, he appeared on Irish television on The Saturday Night Show, where he unexpectedly performed numerous bizarre and controversial antics, including pretending to be Jedward's father.[19][20] In May 2010, Barrymore startled his co-contestants on a reality TV show by revealing that he had fallen in love with a woman. Barrymore was filming an episode of Channel 4 show Come Dine With Me, with former Generation Game host Anthea Redfern and presenters Pat Sharp and Jenny Powell, when he said he was going to have a party to celebrate that he was "coming back in".[21]

His personal publicity, particularly in the tabloid press, continues to be negative. In December 2011, he was convicted of cocaine possession and fined £780.[22] Although Strike It Rich and Strike It Lucky have been repeated on the digital channel Challenge, his entertainment shows such as Barrymore and My Kind of People are never repeated anywhere and his work is never included on clip shows, such as those marking ITV's 50th anniversary or the 100th anniversary of the London Palladium. The only appearances he has made in the last 10 years has been on reality shows or interview shows. His only work in 2012 was on local radio stations, and on hospital radio. One was on Minster FM, on Greg Scott's breakfast show on 25 February 2012, where he was surprised to meet one of his all-time favourite television guests, Fiona Iverson, who had appeared on his show twenty years earlier.[23]

In 2013, Barrymore appeared on the RTÉ show, The Saturday Night Show for the second time, his first appearance was in February 2010, on this show he talked about his harsh treatment by the press, his addiction and also the possibility of a new show called My Kind of Twits. He subsequently claimed on Twitter that a pilot for My Kind of Twits would be filmed in May, but this did not happen.[24] Barrymore also appeared on The Nolan Show in June 2013.[25]

There was an unflattering reference to Barrymore in an episode of the ITV comedy Benidorm, aired on 11 March 2011. While ringing her son, Noreen Maltby (Elsie Kelly) sees Donald (Kenny Ireland) being taken to hospital, and says, "It looks like someone's died in the pool. Oh, that reminds me -- can you record Strike It Lucky for me? I don't know...one of the cable channels...".[26]

On 9 June 2014, Barrymore appeared on The Jeremy Kyle Show on ITV in which he was interviewed in depth by Kyle for one hour about his life in show business, marriage and sexuality. Barrymore announced to the audience that he had been 'clean' for three years without alcohol or other drugs.

In August 2014, Barrymore revealed that he would be presenting a new show called Stealing The Limelight which would be similar to My Kind of People where he and a co-presenter called Barrie Drewitt-Barlow would travel the country and allow members of the public to audition for the chance to appear on the show.[27] Dates were booked in Liverpool, Manchester and London. However, this came to nothing and the Twitter page for the new show now no longer exists.

In October 2014, it was revealed that Barrymore had been working on a comedy pilot. However, nothing more has been heard of this either.[28]

Personal life

Michael met his first wife Cheryl in 1974, while she was performing as a dancer in a West End theatre show.[29] They married two years later in 1976,[30] although not until after Barrymore had paid off his mother who threatened to reveal a previous 18-month-long gay love affair.[31] Cheryl later claimed, without contradiction from her estranged husband, that they had had a "full" marriage, including connubial relations.

Cheryl became his manager and was the mastermind behind Barrymore's meteoric rise to fame. Cheryl later revealed that Barrymore had problems with alcohol and depression, and as a result of an attack on her at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, she was placed by British police on the "at risk" register.[31]

Coming out

At the height of his popularity, Barrymore suffered increasing alcohol problems. Barrymore claims he wanted to seek help, but that Cheryl continually told him: "No, you're not (alcoholic). Don't be stupid."[32] In mid-1995, at the height of his fame, he went to the The White Swan gay pub in London's East End, where he gave an impromptu stage performance to the largely local crowd singing the words: "Start spreading the news – I'm gay today". Within 48 hours, every tabloid newspaper had printed its own version of the evening's events, including an untrue claim that the star had thrown away his wedding ring.[7]

In November 1995, Barrymore attended the National Television Awards, where, clearly drunk, he made a rambling, incoherent speech. At an after-show party on a live late night radio show, he publicly declared he was gay and "no longer wanted to live a lie", following which he split with Cheryl. She later claimed that Barrymore took the step and did not tell her because of his talks with Diana, Princess of Wales.[33] Barrymore, as of 2010, has said that he is no longer gay after having a relationship with a woman.[21] However, he has acknowledged that he may be bisexual.[34][35]


After several aborted reunions, Cheryl and Michael divorced in 1997 and Cheryl went on to publish the autobiography[36] Catch a Falling Star in 2002 which contained details of their acrimonious split. The couple subsequently had no contact, and Cheryl at her request ceased to be Barrymore's agent or manager. Barrymore later suggested in his 2006 autobiography Awight Now: Setting the Record Straight that Cheryl was a control freak who controlled his every movement including his clothes, and she had created the character that was "Michael Barrymore", which consequently drove him to alcohol, drugs and gay affairs.[37] In an interview in 2002, Barrymore admitted he is an alcoholic.[38]

On 1 April 2005, Cheryl died of lung cancer, aged 55, at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in St John's Wood. Shortly before her death she asked that details of her condition be kept secret from her former husband, and it was alleged that she also "left instructions that he should not be invited to attend her funeral" although this has since been rebutted by Cheryl's sister Carol.[39]

Death of Stuart Lubbock

Following a party in the early hours of 31 March 2001, a 31-year-old man, Stuart Lubbock, died after three witnesses – including Barrymore himself – claimed to have found him motionless in Barrymore's swimming pool. Barrymore did not appear again on television until the following February when he returned with a new series of six episodes of My Kind of Music. All charges were dropped when it came to court, though witnesses could not agree on whether he was found floating on top of the pool or at the bottom of it, Barrymore had said he was at the top of the pool.[40] The cause of death was found to be drowning. Lubbock, described as a "bubbly partygoer", had traces of drugs and alcohol in his system. After the postmortem, pathologists discovered severe anal injuries, which the media said were consistent with a sexual assault.[41] Many tabloid newspapers accused Barrymore of holding drug-fuelled gay orgies in his home and asserted that he must have had some responsibility for the death. It was claimed that Barrymore had been seen at the party rubbing cocaine onto Lubbock's gums.[42]

Barrymore subsequently received a police caution for possession and use of cannabis, but no other charges were laid against him or anyone else in connection with the death, although two other party-goers, unemployed Justin Merritt and drag queen Jonathan Kenney were arrested on suspicion of murder on 6 June 2001. The inquest that took place in September 2002 reached an open verdict.[43] In light of the verdict, and the fact that she was approached by a friend of the Lubbock family, Cheryl provided the Lubbock family solicitor with both an affidavit and subsequent court testimony that her ex-husband had lied under oath, and could in fact swim. This was later proved not to be true. She also alleged the entertainer had rubbed cocaine on to the gums of other people as well as himself.[44]

In November 2002, Barrymore's lawyers successfully demanded that Essex Police re-investigate matters surrounding Lubbock's death. Their focus was on Barrymore's allegations that the injuries inflicted upon Lubbock's body could have occurred while lying unguarded in the mortuary. A pathologist's report found that Lubbock's wounds were only four hours old at the time of the examination at 4 pm, while Lubbock had been pronounced dead at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow at 8.20 am that morning, so there was a mysterious gap of eight hours.[45] Barrymore told Five Live: "We want to prove the fact that the anal injuries could not have happened at the house." He added: "If these injuries had happened then, why have the police not charged anyone with anything?"[46]

On Barrymore's high-profile return to the UK in January 2006 to take part in Celebrity Big Brother, former solicitor, politician and local activist Anthony Bennett initiated a private prosecution, comprising six charges regarding Barrymore's alleged misuse of drink and drugs on the night of Stuart Lubbock's death. The action commenced in Epping Magistrates' Court in January 2006 and, on 10 February 2006, a District Judge at Southend Magistrates' Court blocked the private prosecution against Barrymore on the grounds of insufficient evidence being available for the case to continue. As has been noted above, Anthony Bennett was no longer a solicitor and was acting independently of Terry Lubbock, Stuart's father.[47]

In an interview with Piers Morgan in the December 2006 edition of GQ magazine, Barrymore claimed there were other witnesses to the events who were hiding information. On 2 December 2006, police announced they were re-opening the investigation into Lubbock's death. The re-investigation followed a lengthy dossier submitted by Anthony Bennett, who was now Terry Lubbock's solicitor, cataloguing a series of alleged failures by Essex Police in the original investigation and claiming that there had been an elaborate cover-up of the true circumstances of Lubbock's death.[48][49]

On 22 December 2006, following a successful complaint to the Press Complaints Commission by Bennett, The Sun published a letter from Terry Lubbock replying to the newspaper's five-page feature on Barrymore earlier in the year which featured Terry's meeting with Barrymore.[50]

On 1 March 2007, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, following a complaint lodged the previous December by Terry Lubbock, announced an investigation into aspects of the police inquiry into Lubbock's death after receiving complaints from the Lubbock family. It was reported that complaints surrounded information Essex Police gave to a coroner and pathologist after Lubbock's death. In May the I.P.C.C. agreed with Terry Lubbock a schedule of no fewer than 36 separate complaints relating to the original investigation into Lubbock's death.[51][52]

On 14 June 2007, Essex Police arrested Barrymore and two other men on suspicion of murder and serious sexual assault in the Lubbock case. The two other men arrested were Jonathan Kenney, Barrymore's partner at the time of the death, and Justin Merritt, an unemployed former dustman at the time, all present at the party when Stuart died. The three men were held for questioning at South Woodham Ferrers police station.[53][54][55]

This followed reports in The Harlow Herald that police had seized tapes from the home of Barrymore's literary agent, Tony Cowell, allegedly containing conversations between Cowell and Barrymore.[56] On 15 June 2007, police were given permission to question Barrymore and one other man for a further 12 hours. Barrymore's solicitor Henri Brandman also confirmed his client was one of the men arrested.[57] Later that day Barrymore was released on police bail pending further enquiries.[58] His solicitor stated that Barrymore "categorically denied" the allegations made and had not been charged with any offence.[59]

On 31 July 2007, it was announced that Barrymore had been re-bailed to appear at an Essex Police station on 10 September.[60] He answered bail on 10 September at a police station in Harlow, Essex. Police were then granted a further 12 hours to question him.[61] On that date, Barrymore and the other two men were told that they would not face charges for the events that occurred. The case was left open.[62]

In July 2015, Barrymore is suing Essex Police over his arrest after Stuart Lubbock was found dead floating in his swimming pool.[63]

In October 2016, it was reported that High Court papers show police admit Barrymore was wrongfully arrested and detained.[64]


Title Transmitted Role Channel Notes
Now Who Do You Do? 1976 Himself BBC Barrymore appeared and did impressions, as was the norm for this show.
Seaside Special 1977 Performer ITV
Russ Abbot's Madhouse 1981-1982 Various Characters ITV
Give Us A Clue 1982 Performer BBC
Punchlines 1983 Performer
The Michael Barrymore Show 1983 Various Characters ITV Cancelled after Barrymore walked out of his contract with LWT
Get Set Go! 1984 Presenter BBC Quiz show. Cancelled following one series.
Starting From Now 1984 Presenter Unaired Pilot episode of a game show
Surprise, Surprise 1984 Guest ITV
Tarby and Friends 1984 Guest Performer ITV
Jackanory 1984 Storyteller BBC Barrymore read out a story
The Laughter Show 1985 Performer
Something to Treasure 1985 Performer
Kenny Everett's Christmas Carol 1985 Performer BBC Kenny Everett's Christmas special
Sebastian the Incredible Drawing Dog 1986 Mick BBC Full series made for children's TV where Barrymore plays Mick who has a dog called Sebastian who is his friend.
Saturday Live 1986 Host Ch4 Barrymore hosted one episode in 1986
All Star Secrets 1986 Guest Performer
Live From Her Majesty's 1986 Performer ITV
Strike It Lucky 1986-1994 Presenter ITV Attracted up to 20 million viewers at its peak and shot Barrymore to stardom.
The Michael Barrymore Special 1987 Himself ITV
The Royal Variety Performance 1987 1987 Performer ITV
Michael Barrymore's Saturday Night Out 1988-1989 Himself BBC
The TV Times TOP TEN Awards 1989 Presenter ITV Barrymore hosted the show.
Sunday Sunday 1989 Interviewee ITV Barrymore was interviewed on this show.
Des O'Connor Tonight 1989 Interviewee ITV
Comedy Christmas Box 1989 Performer
Match Game 1990 Guest ABC
Mick and Mac 1990 Mick Children's BBC Children's television show.
ITV Telethon 90 1990 Performer ITV
A Night Of One Hundred Stars 1990 Performer
Barrymore 1991-1997, 2000 Presenter ITV Barrymore was nominated for numerous TV awards.
This Morning 1992 Interviewee ITV Barrymore was talking about his career and role in pantomime as Buttons in Cinderella at the Manchester Opera House.
It'll Be Alright On The Night 7 1993 Performer ITV A 60-minute show that features outtakes and mistakes from TV, film and advertisements.
My Kind of People 1995 Presenter ITV Spin off from Barrymore. Cancelled after one series and returned to 5 minute segment on Barrymore.
Michael Barrymore's Strike it Rich 1996-1999 Presenter ITV Rebranding of Strike it Lucky. Nominated for numerous TV awards between 1996 and 1999.
Spice World 1997 Mr. Step Spice Girls film.
Michael Barrymore's My Kind of Music 1998-2002 Presenter ITV
Kids Say the Funniest Things 1998-2001 Presenter ITV Barrymore spoke to children about their views on life.
Animals Do the Funniest Things 1999-2000 Presenter ITV .
Michael Barrymore: My Favourite Christmas Hymns 2000 Himself ITV Barrymore chooses his favourite Christmas Hymns.
Barrymore on Broadway 2000 Presenter BBC Followed Barrymore in America speaking to musical stars. Three part series.
Bob Martin 2000-2001 Bob Martin ITV Comedy series where Barrymore played the lead character; Bob Martin. Ran for two series.
GMTV 2002 Himself - Interviewee ITV Interviewed by Fiona Phillips in Dubai.
The Salon 2003 Himself E4
Celebrity Big Brother 2006 Himself - contestant Channel 4
Friday Night Project 2006 Guest Presenter Channel 4 Guest Presenter of one episode in February 2006.
Big Brother's Little Brother 2009 Roving Reporter Channel 4 Roving Reporter during the 2009 edition of Celebrity Big Brother.
The House That Made Me 2010 Himself - Guest Channel 4 Guest appearance in one episode that dealt with Barrymore's childhood.
Celebrity Come Dine With Me 2010 Himself Channel 4 Appeared alongside Pat Sharp, Anthea Turner and Jenny Powell.
Celebrity Coach Trip 2011 Contestant Channel 4 Appeared with former producer Maurice Leonard
Saturday Night Show 2013 Guest RTÉ One Barrymore was interviewed for at least 10 minutes, he discussed his fall from grace and the possibility of a new show called My Kind of Twits.
The Nolan Show 2013 Guest BBC NI Barrymore was interviewed for 30 minutes, he discussed his life story'.
This Morning 2013 Himself - Guest ITV Barrymore was interviewed on 'Money Matters' explaining his rise to stardom and his fall and how it affected both his money and his life.
The Jeremy Kyle Show: The Celebrity Specials 2014 Himself - Guest ITV Barrymore discussed the highs and lows of his life - with Jeremy Kyle.

Stand-up videos

Title Released Notes
The Unpredictable... Live 19 September 1994 Live at Blackpool's Opera House
Live And Uplifting – Back in Business! – Live at the Hammersmith Apollo 9 November 1998 Live at London's HMV Hammersmith Apollo


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  2. Staff (21 September 2003). "How bad and how sad". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  3. Staff. "2006: Michael Barrymore's comeback". Virgin Media. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  4. "Company Check – UK Company and Company Director Reports".
  5. 1 2 The House That Made Me, Channel 4, 16 December 2010.
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  26. Video on YouTube
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  30. BBC News | SHOWBIZ | Barrymore's troubled life,
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  56. "Tapes Clue". 15 June 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2007.
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  60. Barrymore bail extended
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  64. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/michael-barrymore-clear-over-stuart-9134356

Further reading

External links

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