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Michael Barrymore talks to Jeremy Kyle

Published: Mon 09 Jun 2014

Michael Barrymore talks to Jeremy Kyle
Episode one: Monday 9 June at 2pm - 3pm on ITV
- On his sexuality - I would be dead if I hadn’t come out
- On suicide attempt 4 years ago - I took pills
- On cheryl - “I never punched her”
- On swimming pool death - I feel some responsibility
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In a candid and emotional interview about his life on and off screen, Michael Barrymore has told Jeremy Kyle  that he believes he would be dead today if he hadn’t come out as gay, how he feels some responsibility for the death of Stuart Lubbock in 2001 and how he has finally found happiness following the lows of drink and drug addiction.
In the first of a five part series of celebrity specials airing daily at 2pm this week;  Michael Barrymore talked in front of a studio audience telling Jeremy it was strange being back in the studio environment - “It’s the only thing I know… I’m to a degree a little bit nervy” and as the studio audience applauded him, he admitted: “I’ve always been a bit bemused by my success…”
On addiction to drink and drugs:
“I was a late starter, I didn’t smoke at school, I didn’t drink at school… I found at a later date that my addiction was my work… I was just part of this machine which was called Michael Barrymore and my wife, we were 24/7.”
“I wasn’t an all day drinker… I never took anything when I worked. I don’t know how I had that discipline but I did.”
Looking back to how he spiralled downwards with alcohol, Barrymore explained he would drink after a show to replace the high that comes with performing: “I’d come out the studio now [for example], go into my room, a glass of wine would be there and I would take it - start on the wine - and take it as quick as I could to get as high as I could as quick as I could. The adrenalin was so hard producing these shows and the live shows and the adulation was so much that to replace it was almost impossible.”
On whether drinking affected his marriage to wife, Cheryl:
“I don’t think it noticed too much at the beginning because we both drank, obviously I drank more… I think we maybe drank the same sometimes but she controlled it better.”
Speaking of his wife Cheryl, Michael said she was worried about his health but also that his drinking would affect his work which she was heavily involved in: “I was her husband, her lover, her child and her career all wrapped up into one, 24/7 and that’s a lot of pressure on both and I don’t knock it because I think she was a major part of my success. I loved her to death despite what people write or have written in the past about what our relationship was about.”
Looking back to how he felt after a night of heavy drinking, Michael said: “I could bounce straight up, no headaches… I never took anything before I went on, I probably had so much in me from the night before it probably didn’t matter.”
Responding to allegations by late wife Cheryl in her book, where she said when his alcohol intake was highest, there was violence in their relationship: “No that’s not true, I think when she wrote that book, Cheryl was a woman scorned. I’d taken everything away from her and I feel terrible, I did at the time. I didn’t want us to split up. I had to deal with my sexuality, I wanted us to carry on but her last line to me tragically was, “I made you, I’ll break you”.”
“The only time I’ve ever pushed Cheryl is [when I] pushed her away from me when I’ve had six inch nails clawing into my face which I think is fair enough. I’ve never punched her in my life, I’ve never hit any woman.”
On his favourite drug: “My favourite was weed because it makes you laugh and I liked laughing… That’s why I took it, you get the giggles for about eight hours.”
On the turning point when he realised using drink and drugs had gone from being fun to being self-destructive, Barrymore relived a time he was filming one of his entertainment shows: “I remember being on the studio floor at London Weekend [Television] making  [Strike it Rich or Barrymore] and I was very irritable and I’ve always had a great relationship with the crews… We worked hard and we played hard and we had to do retakes and I was getting really, really uptight, very unlike me and my mind was thinking ‘get this over and done with, get upstairs and I can have a drink’… And when I thought it through I thought that is so sad… someone’s looked down on you and given you all this and you’re more interested [in having a drink]… and I thought, this is it, it’s bad.”
On whether the addictive personality was a mask hiding his true sexuality: “I did truly believe that my drinking problems, anything else that I took was because I was suppressing the fact that I may or may not be gay or it was getting more and more [apparent] that I was. Then when I did come out, actually the drinking got worse so I found out it was nothing to do with that at all.”
Jeremy showed Michael clips from the National Television Awards where Barrymore made an emotional speech for the first time since coming out as gay saying he was happy and thanking people for their support as an emotional Cheryl sat in the audience. Visibly tearful, Michael said: “That was the night we were trying to get back together, we were trying to work out a way that we could do it and I don’t think she would accept that I was gay at all because we had a full life together, complete life... It just came to a head that night and I think because our lives were so exposed anyway whether it was by design or not… I said earlier, she said “I made you, I’ll break you” that was at the [Royal] Albert Hall and we never saw each other again until I got the phonecall to say she had died. I didn’t even know she was ill.”
Speaking about the love he and Cheryl shared, Barrymore broke down in tears: “I wasn’t allowed to go to the funeral but I found out [when I came back to live in England about four years ago] and her sister Carol rang me up and said ‘I’d like to see you’ and she said ‘You know all those things in the paper about Cheryl not wanting you to come to the funeral, it’s all nonsense she never said that’… Maurice Leonard who produced [some of my entertainment programmes] and my agent at the time… and everybody close to [Cheryl] who was still seeing her… said that she loved me until the day she died and she was constantly saying ‘how can we get him back on, what can we do’… It doesn’t sound like somebody to me - without going back over too much - that has been damaged by someone physically… I was the love of her life... [Michael breaks down in tears]”
On the night he came out as gay in an East End pub, Barrymore said he went to The White Swan on a recommendation: “At this point, there’s rumours going around the business that I may be gay... When the drag act got up on the stage in the pub, his opening line, he said ‘What do you think about Barrymore then?’ not knowing I’m there… and he said ‘He’s not here is he?’ and I don’t know what made me do it, I just stepped up on the stage and said ‘Yeah I am actually’ and the whole place erupted and I think I got carried away on the acceptance of this crowd of people… and I started singing ‘Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today, start spread it again and tell them I’m gay.’”
Jeremy asked if he is glad he came out: “No one has ever asked me that… If I hadn’t I truly believe I would have died because I believe that my drinking and my using was getting worse because of it so… I came out, I didn’t do that very well, it was a bit spectacular, you can’t have your cake and eat it, it doesn’t matter who you are.”
The next part of the interview looks back to March 2001, when Stuart Lubbock was found dead in Barrymore’s home. On his first thought when he discovered Lubbock’s body floating in the swimming pool: “I just froze, that was my very first thought.” And on whether he thought he was dead when he first saw him, Barrymore said: “I didn’t know, I knew it wasn’t good… I just found it a bit strange.”
“I ran back into the house to get help and then the two boys started giving CPR and then the ambulance was called for and that in turn calls the police, and I was stood… just in complete shock.”
“The first thing I did wasn’t run away, the first thing I did was run to get help.”
“I’m in the middle of a case right now which we’ve been working on for three years for wrongful arrest against the Essex Police.”
On the trial by media that ensued after the allegations: “They did wipe out my career but they did not wipe me out, I’m still here.”
Michael said he did feel some responsibility for Lubbock’s death: “I feel responsible for inviting people back to my house that night and I shouldn’t have done… Because I didn’t know who they were and I know the Dad’s again very angry and upset and wants answers of course he does, but whatever’s happened to me, never forget the most important thing is them losing their loved one. The death of Stuart, that goes above everything. I’ve just lost a career if that’s the price to pay, fine.”
When Jeremy suggested that Michael had been vilified more than most, Barrymore responded as to whether he felt like a victim: “I think I had a lot to do with it, I think I gave them [the press] a lot on a plate when I should have gone for the second thought instead of the first thought. I’m not a monster, I don’t deserve to have had done to me what I’ve had done but it’s happened so I just get on with my life.”
On the highest point in his life:
“The highest point in my life is that what you’re asking, up to now? Meeting Cheryl.”
And the lowest point? “Losing her.”
Jeremy asked if Barrymore had ever contemplated suicide, he said: “Yes, [I’m] obviously not successful at it because I’m here.”
And whether he had attempted it, Barrymore admitted he had overdosed on prescription pills: “I’ve been taken off to the hospital a couple of times. Pills too many pills, just chuck a load [in my mouth]… I bought them from the chemist. I think that was a cry for help.”
Reflecting on his life, Michael talked about what he had learnt: “I tell you what I did learn… When you’re in the depths and the throws of your depression and your addiction, I end up in the corner of the room staring at the wall and it doesn’t matter how big the house is or how small the flat is, you end up in exactly the same spot [thinking] what’s the point [of life]?”
Jeremy asked Michael when the last time he tried to kill himself was: “Four years ago. I’m a good boy now.” And that he had been clean of drink and drugs for three years to which the audience applauded.
On whether he’ll find happiness, Michael said: “I have found it. I’ve just simplified everything, I just stopped being frightened of being on my own.  You can’t make mash for one, I had to get through all that.”
And on the future for Michael Barrymore, he said:“I’ve not got a clue. I haven’t got anything to do particularly, I just spend my days keep myself well, being Michael Barrymore I wave at a lot of people… The baseball hat [I used to hide behind has] gone and I hold my head up and I’m proud and I’ve got every right to have a place on this Earth and if people choose not to work with me fine, I didn’t chase my career when I was a kid, I ain’t going to do it now.”