AFTER 18 years Michael Barrymore has apologised for the first time over the death of party guest Stuart Lubbock in his pool and admitted: “I f***ed up.”
The fallen TV legend, who was one of Britain’s biggest entertainers in the Eighties and Nineties, also opened up about trying to take his own life with tablets while in rehab.
Michael, 67, poured out his heart on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, set to air on Saturday, and confessed he now lives the life of a recluse, with his Jack Russell Dave his only companion.
The former Strike It Lucky game show host has been unable to rebuild his career after 31-year-old Stuart was found dead at Michael’s mansion in Roydon, Essex in March 2001. Traces of cocaine and ecstasy were found in his bloodstream.
Although Michael was never charged with an offence, his fall from grace meant his telly career ended overnight.
He tried to claim more than £2.4million in lost earnings from Essex Police in relation to his 2007 wrongful arrest on suspicion of the rape and murder of dad-of-two Stuart. But last year a High Court judge ruled that he would receive only nominal damages.
Medical experts told a 2002 inquest in Epping that Stuart had suffered severe internal injuries, suggesting he may have been the victim of a serious sexual assault.
In a tearful and emotional interview, Michael said: “I could not be more sad. I could not be more sorry that this event took place.
“It was at my house and they don’t have all the answers to how he got these injuries. I could not be more sad or sorry if I have to be for the rest of my life.
“Of course it goes through my head and I want things different. I wish I could change it for them.
“I f***ed up. What more do you want? I f***ed up.
“I’m sorry. I could not be more sorry. I’m sorry for swearing. I do apologise. I’ve never swore in front of an audience.
“I was responsible for allowing people to come back to my house and to go out to the pool. All of them were . . . there were no children. Stuart was 31. You assume they was capable of looking after themselves.”
And Michael insisted that any injuries to Stuart happened after he had been taken from the presenter’s home.
He said: “The idiots at Essex Police have been disgraceful with the way that they have dealt with this.
“I have not come on here to gain anything or to do anything other than to do the show. Stuart’s gone. And that family deserve proper answers and the police have not completed their inquiries properly.
“One of their own officers said that he, when he was younger, jumped into a pool and had sustained exactly the same injuries. Essex Police weren’t interested in listening to that.
“I think Stuart drowned. These injuries don’t appear until 4.30pm the next afternoon.
“Suddenly eight hours later after he is pronounced dead these injuries appear. Well, where else do you go? It’s the police.”
He added: “You know, some people say, ‘You did not show any remorse.’
“But the word remorse applies to when you have actually done something horrific. So how do you show remorse?
“I really wish I could change it for them. And his dad, when I’ve met him three or four times now, has always been charming with me.
“Even more so when he realised that as time went on there were unanswered situations with Essex Police. I said, ‘I thought you were going to punch me in the face and I would have quite happily taken it on the chin,’ when we first met.
“After a period of time he has been nothing more than charming. In fact the last time at the court when I won the wrongful arrest case he said, ‘It would be nice to get you back on the telly.’
“I said, ‘Well let’s not worry about that at the moment, eh?’”
Michael admitted he had tried to take his own life after the ordeal, during a stint in rehab.
Asked by Piers how he tried to do it, he responded: “Tablets.”
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Recalling how a policeman saved him by taking him to hospital, Michael said: “I just wanted it over. I was done by then.
“This good copper got me to the hospital and then he left me and got me secure, then I pulled all the wires out from me and I went wandering off into the streets again and then he come back. He was driving around West London looking for me.
“He got me back and then he said, ‘Please don’t do that. My sergeant’s having a go at me for losing you.’
“Eventually I was released and got back home from the hospital and off his own back he came back the next day to make sure and see how I was and to make sure I was all right.
“That’s the sort of police force we’re so proud of.”
Michael told Piers he was delighted to be back on prime-time Saturday night TV, despite turning down the option of being interviewed by Piers four times previously. He said: “I have gone through the emotions, up and down, thinking about it. And when I got here today it all came back.
“TV is something that I do. It is 18 years since I have done a proper show, this style of show. I’m happy.”
He added: “The warmth of the audience just lifts you. All the years I had not been working, what I learned to do was live without it.
Rise and fall of a TV icon
May 4, 1952
Michael Barrymore is born Michael Ciaran Parker in Bermondsey, South East London. His father leaves when Michael is 11 and he never sees him again. Michael’s Irish mother Margaret works three jobs to support him and his two brothers.
Michael starts his career in entertainment working as a Butlin’s Redcoat. Two years later he meets dancer Cheryl St Claire working in West End shows.
Michael and Cheryl marry.
Michael becomes a regular panellist on game show Blankety Blank and a warm-up man for Larry Grayson on The Generation Game.
He makes the big time, hosting ITV game show Strike It Lucky, which later becomes Strike It Rich, watched by 18 million viewers at its peak.
Michael Barrymore’s Saturday Night Out launches on the BBC.
Michael lands his own ITV light entertainment show, Barrymore.
He reveals during a comedy routine in an East London pub that he is gay.
Divorces wife Cheryl.
March 31, 2001
Stuart Lubbock, 31, dies after three witnesses, including Michael himself, claim to have found him motionless in the swimming pool at Michael’s home after a late-night party.
Stuart’s inquest reaches an open verdict. Michael’s lawyers successfully demand that Essex Police re-investigate matters surrounding the death.
Cheryl publishes autobiography The Cheryl Barrymore Story, which contains details of their acrimonious split. Michael later states he has an alcohol addiction and is in recovery.
He is paid a reported £150,000 to appear on Channel 4’s Celebrity Big Brother. He finishes runner-up to Chantelle Houghton.
Michael claims that there were other witnesses at the 2001 pool party who are hiding information.
Michael says he is no longer gay after having a relationship with a woman. However, he says he may be bisexual.
“I live a very happy and full life. Coming here tonight I have realised how much I love it.”
After being sober for ten years, recovering alcoholic Michael sympathised with fellow TV presenter Ant McPartlin, saying: “He has a serious illness. A lot of people don’t understand addiction.
“Alcoholism — it’s all addiction. And I wish him well, I really do. There are billions of them.”
Michael said that ITV’s biggest entertainment shows, The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent — fronted by Ant and Dec — were very similar to his own television work.
He said: “Britain’s Got Talent today is My Kind Of People, except with judges. We never used to judge them. It’s cut the same way. Maybe Simon Cowell owes me a few bob.”
With a glint in his eye, Michael was back to his showbiz self in front of the live studio audience and was met with a standing ovation.
And despite tears, he couldn’t resist performing a song and dance.
At times Piers struggled to keep natural entertainer Michael on topic and confessed: “I feel like I’m in your hands here.”
Despite Michael’s acrimonious 1997 split from his wife Cheryl — who died in 2005 aged just 55 — he admitted she was still the great love of his life. He said: “She was, absolutely. I don’t think I’ve loved anybody else like that. You are not together 18 years, never mind the ups and downs, nobody is.
“Nobody goes up the aisle thinking, ‘Oh I’ll be out of this in ten years’.
“We all go in because we genuinely love the person for what they are as the person.”
He tearfully added: “I live on my own with Dave, my dog. When I go home tonight I will say to Dave, ‘I saw the Morganator earlier. There were a fantastic crowd there. It was like the old days, it was nice.’
“I will tell him hopefully I did not come over like an old fool. We had difficult conversations. Dave will stick by me whatever. Dave will be here — as long as I feed him.”
Michael Barrymore to get damages after being arrested over rape and murder of Stuart Lubbock
- Piers Morgan’s Life Stories with Michael Barrymore is on ITV on Saturday at 9.35pm.