Name : Christopher Jonathan Barrie

Birth
Date : 28th March 1960

Birth Place : Hanover, Germany

School : Northen Ireland. He was a boarder at a Methodist school in Belfast. He was Head boy in his final year there. played the lead in 'Dial M for Murder' production

Lives : in a village in Berkshire, England

Further Education : he starter a business course at Brighton Polytechic, never finished it, dropped out after a short while

Work Experience : Didn't quite make it big at this point and managed to get a job with High Wicombe Council and ended up in a graveyard. He used to fill in graves, clean and lock up at night. He said he was not qualified enough to dig the graves!

From here it was always up and so Waitrose supermarket grabbed him up and began to collect trolleys from the car park! He has worked as a Shipping import/export clerk and an estate agent.

He's also had a job in the Sports Department of Harrods, selling Jock straps and stuff like that. This is where the impressions started.

From here he went on the dole, watched cricket for a bit and then got a job as a van driver. Had a few disasters here delivering the wrong things to the wrong people before deciding that showbiz was ready for another mimic. He did the circuit including the Comedy Store and got a two-minute spot on the David Essex show. 

Married in 1987 an Italian Girl called Monica, but this all ended in 1990

Met his current wife, Aleks during a bomb scare, they married on 3rd December 1997


Some other stuff I've found about the great man

He is a great old car enthusiast. He has quite a collection, at one point he had over 30, including a lorry. Plus a few motorcycles. They are a major part of his life. He sometimes dresses up according to which car he is driving e.g.: If he is riding his 1939 wartime BSA he's got the full kit, jodhpurs and everything! He has loads of automobile memorabilia all around his house. He also loves Photography.


In Bed With Chris Barrie

by Hayley Phillips, 

OK, so I exaggerate, I was only actually in the same rehearsal room with him, but hey, that's closer than him merely being on my TV set, and that's a hell of a lot better than him not being on TV at all! Just to make everyone really jealous, I was with "The Brittas Empire" team for two whole weeks and I'm here to tell you all the juicy cast gossip and, for all you "intellectuals" out there, to say a few words about the show itself (with as little bias as a fan can manage -- yes, after months of counseling I can finally admit it).

First, a brief explanation about how I came to be allowed to stand around doing nothing but watching my favourite cast rehearse and record the new series of "The Brittas Empire." As part of my degree course I'm given 3 weeks off for work experience, anywhere I choose. Correctly guessing that college would be completely useless in getting me a placement at the BBC, I decided to set it up myself. Having set my heart on eventually working in television as a Floor/Production Manager nearly 5 years ago, I have become fairly accomplished in writing creepy letters in order to get similar placements in TV. So back in March '95, I wrote an exceptionally creepy and light-hearted letter to "Brittas" Producer/Director, Mr. Mike Stephens. It was easy when you are genuinely an enormous fan of the show and have all five series on video! To my amazement, he replied in the positive, and after a few administrative cock-ups, it was all set to go: I was to spend two weeks with the cast and crew of "The Brittas Empire" in October as they rehearsed and recorded series six.

Well, I can safely say that it was the most fun I have ever had, and they are the nicest cast I have ever worked with and, believe me, there have been a few! The regular writers of the series left after series five, so they started this year with a whole new team, which not only manage to maintain the character developments, but also breathe new life into the series. If you were even faintly amused by previous episodes, then you're going to love the new one, which is due for transmission in March 1996. (The BBC have just transmitted series four but have no plans to run five between now and March.)

Tim Marriott (who plays "Gavin") and I had a natter about this, and we both think the Beeb are mad -- it makes sense to run series 5 immediately before running the new series. Perhaps it wouldn't matter so much but for the fact that the first episode of the new series (which I saw in the final edit) is based very heavily on references to the last episode of five -- it's a little difficult to ignore the fact that Mr. Brittas most definitely died at the end! Whether the Beeb will listen to me and an actor is somewhat doubtful. Still, we can only hope!

Back to the matter in hand - yes, all that gossip I promised! Well, before you ask, yes, it's boring, but Chris Barrie is a really nice bloke, and very down-to-earth. There I've said it, I'm sorry but it's true. Chris doesn't reveal very much about himself, and I left knowing the same as when I arrived. That's probably because he's one of those guys who can't "chat" to women; get him on the subject of work, i.e., "Red Dwarf," and he's fine; start up the subject of classic cars and you can't stop him, but anything else and he's really not interested, or maybe it was just me!

The rest of the cast, well, where to begin! During my two weeks with them there were a few tears and tantrums, but no more than is usual with actors it would seem! Everyone, without exception, was friendly and fun, really making me feel part of the team almost immediately. Out of them all, I think Russell ("Tim"), Pippa ("Helen"), Tim ("Gavin") and Judy ("Julie") were the easiest to get on with. But of course it's all a matter of personalities, and those just happened to be the people whose interests, outlooks and temperaments matched mine.

Without doubt, the most enjoyable aspect of my time there was watching them all rehearse and develop the script. Each actor works very differently, but all make an amusing line in the script into an often hilarious moment on TV, helped of course by the direction of Mike Stephens. Chris, this year at least, was doing his homework and arrived each morning with the script further learnt and ideas thought out for minor script changes to enhance the joke being made. Whether he actually thought about his performance at home, or was simply very spontaneous, I'm not sure. But I do know that by the very first rehearsal for each episode his performance was already close to perfection in terms of the mannerisms, the gestures, the voice inflections and the timing for a scene.

Pippa Haywood ("Mrs. Helen Brittas"), by way of contrast, seemed to develop her performance as the rehearsals progressed. She discovered where the comedy and the opportunities for further comedy lay in the script as she practised it. An example, for those of you familiar at all with the characters, is her changing of a single word. It won't sound much now but when it is seen you will realise that it does actually help to maintain the flow in a very funny piece of dialogue between "Helen" and "Carole" (played by Harriet Thorpe). The script read "They were my cousins from Iowa," but the name sounds awkward for Helen, who does not use many "o" or "u" sounds and whose mannerisms rely on the "e" sounds in words. So she changed it to Tennessee -- simple but very effective, allowing Pippa to add Helen's characteristic facial expression with the nod of the head on "see." I'm afraid you'll have to wait until March to see that in action, but trust me, it works!

The whole team were a real joy to work with and genuinely get on well together, and I would love to work on the next series. The scripts have already been commissioned for series seven and they will probably be recorded in September of this year. Since I'm now firm friends with Tim Marriott I shall let you all know as soon as he hears from the BBC -- oh yes, my finger is firmly on the Brittas pulse...


Hayley Phillips, was studying sitcoms as part of her degree course and I lost touch with her about a couple of years ago after she moved from Wood Green, if you're there, please contact me

 


 

June 20-29, 1995

I caught Chris Barrie's one-man show at the Reading Hexagon -- a night he'd probably like to forget. Amongst microphone problems and faulty pre-recorded music, Barrie ("Red Dwarf," "The Brittas Empire") managed to plod through 2 hours of skits, song, and stand-up. Supported by an excellent cast of three women (one of whom is his girlfriend) and one man, the troupe managed to entertain even when the gags were predictable and fell flat.

There were three songs, the most audience-pleasing being the finale when Barrie came out dressed as "Gordon Brittas" and sang (and danced!) about the benefits of exercise. The cast even tried, in vain, to get the audience out of their seats to participate in the aerobics.

Another highlight came during one of the three stand-up bits. I say "stand-up" but it was really much more rough than that; Barrie talked to the audience in an intimate way that didn't feel like the pat spiel of a stand-up comedian. Barrie opened, "A lot of people have been coming up to me after the show and asking why there hasn't been any Red Dwarf in the show." (Huge audience applause.) "Well, it's a little difficult to transport an entire set and cast onto the stage of the Reading Hexagon ..." But he responded to audience cheers by doing a hilarious routine (which seemed off-the-cuff) where he performed a typical plot, poking fun at the predictability of each character's lines.

It went roughly like this:

KRYTEN:

"Sir," (audience cheers/laughs) "Sir, there is an extra-terrestrial being approaching the ship. What should we do?"

RIMMER:

"KRYTEN!" [Chris breaks in with a smile, "That's me."] "KRYTEN! We've got to destroy it before it destroys us!"

CAT:

"OOOOOOOOWWWW!" [twirling around] "A new life form? Let's see if I can have SEX with it! Yeah, I'm so excited, all SIX of my nipples are tingling..."

LISTER:

"Hol, can you give us a reading on it?"

HOLLY:

[doing Norman Lovett] "Oh... wot? Uh..."

KRYTEN:

"Holly, I thought you'd left after season 2 ..." [Barrie: "Probably the biggest mistake of his career." Audience laughs, then realizes how mean that is, and Barrie winces along with them.]

Overall, if you're not a "Red Dwarf"/"Brittas Empire" fan (and this is not an either/or stipulation -- you must be wildly into both), save your tenner and rent a movie instead. Watching "the other side of Barrie" with anything less than a oh-my-god-I'm-seeing-him-live-in-the-flesh mind-set is just not worth it.


 

        Many thanks to Nick Sim for sending me this Interview

        CATHY BROWN interviews Chris Barrie Jan 97.

It is the most remarkable come-back since Booby Ewing stepped out of the shower in Dallas. The indestructable leisure centre manager Gordon Brittas returns from the grave for the sixth series of The Brittas Empire,which begins a new seven part run on BBC1 on Tuesday 20th February.

At the end of the last series,he suffered an apparently fatal accident when a heavy water tank fell through the ceiling at the Whitbury Leisure Centre,completely flattening him. But Brittas is not the sort of man to be diverted from his mission by a mere burial. St. Peter, amazed at Brittas' talent to annoy,sent him back to Earth,and a six month spell in a Swiss clinic has restored him to bionic standards.

"I don't think he has changed. He has got to be as bad as ever,"says Chris Barrie,who plays Brittas. In real life, he is nothing like him. His voice is completely different, his smile is different, even his ears don't seem to stick out as far.

Best known for his portrayal of Rimmer,the insufferable hologram in BBC2's Red Dwarf, and the equally insensitive Gordon Brittas, Chris, 35, is much more approachable, and, well, human, in reality.

He began his career in stand-up at the comedy store and made his first televison appearance in 1982.He was part of the support cast for Jasper Carrott's topical series Carrott's Lib,and from 1984 to 1991, he put his talent for comic voices, and impersonations to use on Spitting Image(in which he also worked as a puppeteer).
He was responsible for the voices of John Cole, David Owen, Prince Charles, Ronald Reagan, Jack Nicholson and Sean Connery-to name but a few. He also does voice-overs for commercials-but his range is so great that he is unlikely to be identified from them.

The first series of Red Dwarf was in 1987, and Chris has appeared on all kinds of shows from Jackanory to Filthy Rich And Catflap. He also worked on the radio, in the theatre and in "small, strange roles, in frankly, even stranger films"-mostly on Channel 4.

But it is Red Dwarf(the last series was made in 1993) and The Brittas Empire for which he is stopped in the street.
People yell out:"Where's your H?" for Rimmer, or they impersonate Colin's cry of "Mr Brittas!"
"I don't really like him very much," Chris says of Brittas."He is a sort of school teacher nightmare, someone you meet in big corporations as head of paper-clips, a petty-minded, anally-retentive sort of person-great fun to play."
So he does not mind the insufferable character being brought back from the dead. "I sort of knew deep inside there would be another series. I was intrigued as to how they were going to work out a way of bring him back."
The Brittas Empire seems to have become more surreal with every series, progessing from something which was only a little bit larger than life, to something that is so unlikely that resurrecting a flattened corpse hardly raises an eyebrow.
"I think that it is a fairly natural development,really,"says Chris."Red Dwarf is similar in a sense. This series has got new writers involved. It has got slightly larger than life. It is pretty popular among the younger element, so you have room to go a bit whackier.
"It is good for the show because it is such an ordinary thing really:leisure centres. Any way that you can make what happens in them really wild makes a nice juxtaposition."

Chris is returning to Red Dwarf briefly, for two episoded of the new series to be made this summer.
"I have missed not being able to see a new series.Whether I have been involved in the production I don't know,"he says."It is not the easiest of shows to produce. This show is so fantastic to do."

It was his choice to leave Red Dwarf.But:
"It was a mutual thing. There was no bad feeling. It seemed a good time to go off. This is what holograms do. They don't die. They get switched off." Chris does not mind leaving Rimmer behind.
"Every actor who has played two spineless idiots, two fairly unattractive kind of characters, two losers at the end of the day, should start to think about the possibility of being typecast." He explains.
"That is why this is the last Red Dwarf and next year will be the last Brittas for me."
How is he going to kill off Brittas next time, to make the next series the last one, having already brought him back from the dead?
"I don't know really. He never actually died. He did tap on the lid of his coffin at his funeral..." But Chris is already planning "the next character who is going to keep up with this one".
He would like to play a romantic lead one day, but he accepts that he is so closely identified with monsters like Brittas and Rimmer that it would be difficult for people to cast him in that role.
He says:"The character I have got in mind to do for the next few years is another monster, but a different kind of monster.
"It will be along the lines of Brittas, in a real, possible earth, UK-type setting. It will be quite a large character, like Brittas.
"It's quite exciting really, to try and find another character. It is interesting, more than anything else to try and do something else."

Chris first developed his talent for impersonating voices by taking off teachers at his school in Belfast.
"There were about five teachers there that I used to regularly do." He borrowed one teacher's jacket for an end-of-term revue, and "he never wore that jacket again", which convinced Chris that he had made an impression!
He also started to take off well known voices such as Kenneth Williams and Robin Day. His tallent got him sacked from Harrods, when he phoned up "a guy no-one liked" and "set him up to take the whole fishing department" to the office of one of the senior executives. Chris was working at Harrods "while I was trying to work out what to do with my life". He worked in the bicycle department where, since they didn't have to wear ties because of the danger of them catching in the spokes:"We felt quite an elite."
Chris was soon part of a more widely known elite at the Comedy Store, where he shared the bill with Ben Elton and Norman Lovett. He returned to stand up recently on the same bill as a lot of the "hot young comics today". "I came across as someone who does this part-time," he confesses."It is something you've got to completely throw yourself into."
So he has no plans to return to the circuit. But he does do "corporate things: being Brittas, basically. I quite enjoy them." And he says that someone always recognises their boss in the character and tells him:"Oh, you're just like and so."

Away from stage and screen, Chris has very little to do with Brittas, however.
"I don't really go to a gym. I like to try and keep fit:cycling, walking, doing the odd knee bend. I do a lot of walking. I live 25 miles outside London with two dogs. There is generally always other people in the house, but I am not married." His one great extravagance is a collection of classic cars.
"I am not a megalomaniac. I am antiques collector," he says."They are percieved as being incredibly beautiful, incredibly valuable. In fact, they are not all that valuable. They are bits of metal that go wrong.
"Five or ten years ago, I just wanted to drive around in a wacky car and have fun. Now I am far more sensible. I think about kitchens..."

So there you have it, it's sad but true, life must go on......