Walliams strikes it lucky with Barrymore role

David Walliams has been cast as Michael Barrymore in a new drama adaptation of Barrymore’s eventful career in showbiz. The Sky Entertainment project will focus on the contrast between Barrymore’s TV stardom and his troubled personal life.

A source from the production company told The Sun: "It's a 4-part drama looking at Michael's glory years. It shows how he was a hugely popular family man and television icon who had a number of skeletons in the closet."

That’s something of an understatement considering the scandal surrounding the unexplained death of Stuart Lubbock in Barrymore’s swimming-pool at a party in 2001. The incident ended Barrymore’s TV career.

Barrymore had become one of the most popular names in light entertainment with his eccentric clowning on shows like Strike It Lucky and My Kind Of People. Behind the spotlight though lay a complex private life and a depressive personality who struggled to face up to alcoholism and homosexuality. In December 2011 Barrymore was found guilty of possessing cocaine.

Walliams is best known for his Little Britain sketches and his charity work, so a major drama series may be seen as something of a stretch. "David will be perfect to play him," the source said. "He's great at improvising but can also portray fragility and the darkness at the heart of the story."

Filming on the series will start later in the year. Geoff Atkinson, who ghost wrote the autobiography of the late Cheryl Barrymore, the comedian’s ex-wife, is advising on the scripts.

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