Michael Barrymore's career in trouble

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com September 21 2002 12:00 AM ET

Michael Barrymore's reputation as the U.K.'s best-loved entertainer was dealt a blow on Friday when television company ITV said it had no plans to commission further shows from the troubled openly gay star. The announcement follows an inquest last week into the death of 31-year-old Stuart Lubbock, who was found unconscious in the entertainer's swimming pool during a drug-fueled party. The coroner returned an open verdict, leaving the death unresolved.

"We have consistently maintained that a final decision regarding Michael Barrymore's future with the channel would be made following the inquest into the death of Stuart Lubbock," an ITV spokeswoman said Friday. "We have reviewed the position again and can confirm that ITV has no plans to commission any new programs featuring Michael Barrymore." The spokeswoman declined to give any further details, but media reports said ITV bosses feel Barrymore can no longer be considered a family entertainer.

A series of his hit program Kids Say the Funniest Things, shot before Lubbock's death 18 months ago, will never be aired. Barrymore, repeatedly voted favorite British TV star, was lambasted in the tabloid press last week after the inquest heard how he had fled when Lubbock was found unconscious. He had also refused to answer a number of questions during the trial. By last weekend he was at the center of a book row, after the BBC first announced and then scrapped plans to publish his autobiography.

Last seen on TV screens in February, Barrymore was once one of the highest-paid stars on British television, with a string of hit shows such as Strike It Lucky and My Kind of People. Until Friday he had enjoyed the support of ITV bosses, who refused to condemn him following Lubbock's death. ITV program director David Liddiment said last year that he saw no reason to "abandon" the TV host.