Maybe it is what made him such a compelling performer. But nine years after a young lad was found dead in his swimming pool with violent anal injuries, Michael Barrymore’s self absorption is ghastly.
In The House That Made Me: Michael Barrymore (Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm) his lack of empathy is as relentless as his self-pity. His bloated old cheeks forcing his eyeballs deep back inside his flesh; his brow furrowed by the years of frowning over his own misfortune, Barrymore does the Who Do You Think You Are bit with selfish gusto.
“My life would have been easier if I didn’t have to be gay,” he says. He goes back to a recreation of his childhood home: “Jumping inside your own life – that’s brave even for me.” The subtext is always the same: Something dreadful has happened to me.E Why me? He died, but what about me? My dad was violent and fucked off when I was just 11. What about me? I was gay, growing up in South East London in the 1960s. Fuck him. Fuck that dead boy! What about me? What about me?
“Nine years after losing everything, Michael is going back to the beginning to find out where the problems began,” says the voiceover man, complicit in the sordid egocentricity.
“It’s like the night the guy died in my pool,” says Barrymore, “I know my part in it now.
“I’m not frightened to say now.
“My part was I didn’t say no. If I’d have been sober and together and had not thought you have to be good and nice to everyone, I’d have said you’re not coming back to my place”
Smirking: “I was trying to be popular and look what happened. I didn’t say no, you ain’t coming back.
“I was trying to be popular. That’s my part in it. I didn’t say no.”
Neither did Channel 4.