: Christopher Jonathan Barrie
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,
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!
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.
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:
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.
thanks to Nick Sim for sending me this Interview
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.
So there you have it, it's sad but true, life must go