Comedian Michael Barrymore was booed off stage at the weekend just as he was hoping to launch a comeback as a seaside entertainer.
Barrymore, who was once the highest-earning TV entertainer in Britain, was jeered off stage at The Comedy Store in London on Friday night.
It is the latest shambolic public appearance by the star, who went from earning £2million a year to bankruptcy after a man was found dead in his swimming pool.
The former Strike It Lucky presenter, who was a surprise addition to the bill, performed a rambling 15-minute set and left to a chorus of boos and shouts of “Get off”.
His gags about taking drugs, his medication’s musical side-effects and donner kebabs failed to impress the crowd.
Audience member Wes Shipley, 34, from Birmingham, said: “No one had any idea Michael Barrymore was appearing. I thought it was brilliant at first and clapped along with everyone to welcome him on. But the guy’s obviously no idea what he’s doing in a modern comedy club. A lot of his jokes were old and out of place. And he sounded completely out of it.”
Comedian Michael Barrymore was booed off stage at the weekend at The Comedy Store in London
The biggest laugh came just after he left the stage. The compere asked who might be on next and one wag shouted: “Bruce Forsyth?”
Host Ian Coppinger told the crowd: “I thought it was fantastic. A man who’s from a completely different circuit and hasn’t done stand-up in years…gets up in front of you all.”
Barrymore, 58, will be hoping for a warmer reception in Blackpool this summer.
He will be performing at the North Pier Theatre every Saturday from mid-July until the end of October in Michael Barrymore’s Big Night Out.
Duggie Chapman, who is producing the show, said: “I think the nation is ready to accept Michael back into its heart. It’s not as though charges were ever brought against him. The silliest thing he did was run away and hide.”
Mr Chapman has known Barrymore for 30 years and invited him to Blackpool last month.
“We discussed the idea of a season run and he got more and more excited about it,” said Mr Chapman, who says he has no doubt tickets will sell well at the 1,200-seat theatre.
“We’ve not done any real publicity yet but there’s already a lot of interest,” he said.
“There’s a real buzz around the town that he’s starring here this summer.”
Barrymore’s world crumbled when, in March 2001, father-of-two Stuart Lubbock, 31, was found dead in the swimming pool during a party at the star’s home in Roydon, Essex.
Mr Lubbock had severe internal injuries, and traces of alcohol, cocaine and ecstasy in his body. An inquest recorded an open verdict. The day after Mr Lubbock’s death Barrymore checked into a clinic often used by those seeking treatment for addiction and depression. As the scandal rumbled on his career nosedived and he eventually filed for bankruptcy.
At one point he moved to New Zealand. A comeback attempt saw him star in Channel 4’s Celebrity Big Brother in January 2006.
But in December that year Essex Police launched a fresh inquiry into Mr Lubbock’s death, which found he had died as a result of a violent assault.
Mr Lubbock’s father Terry campaigned to get someone charged and became a familiar sight at Barrymore gigs. He has since died.
Barrymore and two other men were arrested on suspicion of murder in June 2007. Three months later the Crown Prosecution Service said he would not face any charges. The file on Mr Lubbock’s death remains open.