Michael Barrymore, former primetime ITV favourite, has reemerged in the limelight with newfound global popularity on TikTok and a directorial debut on London's West End with Laurel & Chaplin: The Feud. The play uncovers the intense rivalry between comedic icons Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel.
Embracing his directorial role at London's Cambridge Theatre, Barrymore admits to often "winging it". Speaking to ITV News London, Barrymore shared, "This is about the story of how [Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin] met, bitterly fell out and never spoke again. Then [Stan Laurel] went on to form Laurel and Hardy." Barrymore explained that Chaplin's accusations of being a Communist were ruinous at the time, whereas Laurel found success with Laurel and Hardy.
Laurel & Chaplin: The Feud, which premiered in London on 24 July, features unique improvisation, making "every show for that night just for that audience," as per Barrymore.
After a significant hiatus from the public eye following a tragic incident in 2001, Barrymore has reclaimed his fame through TikTok, amassing hundreds of millions of views annually. "TikTok reconnected me with my audience and all those who grew up with me. Plus, I have a world market watching my old clips and me doing current trends - my version of it and I’m 71," Barrymore stated.
His passion for TikTok is palpable, declaring it his favourite medium, perfectly catering to his sense of humour. Despite being constantly active on the platform, he is keen on exploring all opportunities, stating, "You can get the money up a bit if you keep saying no! You’ve got to be brave. But you’ve always got to be willing to lose."
Overcoming his past difficulties, Barrymore says, "Even what’s happened to me - you know how I dealt with it? I had a mate and he had a problem with his kid and I said would you take on everything I’ve had to deal with for the sake of your son? It’s a no brainer."