Chris Barrie at Dimension Jump XI (2004)
|Born||Christopher Jonathan Brown
28 March 1960
Hanover, West Germany
Alecks Barrie (1997–present)
Chris Barrie (born 28 March 1960) is a German-born English actor and puppeteer. He first achieved success as a vocal impressionist, notably in the ITV sketch show Spitting Image. He is best known for his roles as Arnold Rimmer in the sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf, as Gordon Brittas in the BBC sitcom The Brittas Empire and as Lara Croft's butler Hillary in the Tomb Raider franchise films.
Early life and career
Barrie was born Christopher Jonathan Brown in Hanover, Lower Saxony, West Germany, to a father who was serving in the British Army, and attended Methodist College Belfast boarding school in Northern Ireland. After dropping out of Brighton Polytechnic, he began his TV career as a sports personality impersonator on The David Essex Showcase; it was at this point that he adopted the surname "Barrie" for Equity reasons – as there was already an actor named Chris Brown on the Equity UK lists. He provided the voice of Ronald Reagan in the pop song "Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, as well as various vocalisations for other tracks by FGTH and Art of Noise.
Barrie played the character Arnold Rimmer in (as of 2012) ten series of Red Dwarf. A central character, Barrie appeared as Rimmer in almost every episode of the series, absent only for a brief period during series 7. For most of the series the character of Arnold Rimmer was a hologram, requiring Barrie to wear an "H" on his forehead during filming. The character is described as self-centred, neurotic, cowardly and hopeless with women.
When a pilot for an American version of the show was produced, Barrie was invited to reprise his role as Rimmer. He passed up the offer because of the constraint of the five-series contract, which is standard for American television. Robert Llewellyn was the only cast member of the British show to participate in the pilot, which was not picked up.
Barrie reprised his role as Arnold Rimmer for three new Red Dwarf specials, Red Dwarf: Back to Earth, for the UK digital channel Dave, shown during Easter 2009.
The new Red Dwarf series (series 10) was until recently being broadcast on Dave on Thursday nights at 9pm.
The Brittas Empire
Barrie is also well known for his role as Gordon Brittas, the title role in The Brittas Empire, a BBC sitcom running from January 1991 to February 1997 for seven series, with 52 episodes, including two Christmas specials. It centred on the life of a well-meaning but incompetent manager of Whitbury New Town Leisure Centre. Quite different from his character in Red Dwarf, Barrie was accompanied by a supporting cast who played the other staff members of the leisure centre. Each episode revealed a disastrous occurrence, which Brittas was sure he could sort out, the truth being that he was normally one of the causes of all the trouble that went on (and oblivious to this as well).
Roles in television and films
Chris Barrie's most recent TV work includes Britain's Greatest Machines with Chris Barrie, screened on the National Geographic Channel from 4 June 2009. Each of the four episodes feature some of the most notable air, sea and land vehicles and equipment of the 1930s, 1950s, 1960s and 1980s respectively. A second series of four episodes was transmitted in February 2010, with the 1910s, 1920s, 1940s and early steam trains as the subjects of each episode.
Barrie has also hosted the television series Chris Barrie's Massive Engines and Chris Barrie's Massive Machines on the Discovery Channel which was later shown on Channel 5 where both series received record viewing figures and are now on DVD. The latest in this series Massive Speed with Chris Barrie was shown on Discovery Channel from November 2006. In 2006, he appeared as a regular team captain in the BBC Two quiz show Petrolheads, and is the star of the British crime/comedy/drama film Back In Business, in which he plays Tom Marks.
During the filming for season 2 of MTV reality show Catfish: The TV Show, an episode was made in which the show was contacted by a 23 year old female called Alicia from De Moines, Iowa, who claimed that she had been in a 4 year long relationship with somebody posing online as British actor Chris Barrie; however, the two had never met. The episode was never broadcast due to licensing restrictions placed by the BBC for use of Barrie's image and likeness.
Other roles include:
- The director of "Ooer, Sounds A Bit Rude" in episode two of Filthy, Rich & Catflap.
- The ship's captain in the wall-poster cut scene during The Young Ones episode "Nasty".
- The voice of Simon in the Adventure Soft computer games series Simon the Sorcerer (1993).
- Gary Prince in A Prince Among Men (1997–98).
- A French revolutionary/"ambassador" in the Blackadder The Third episode "Nob And Nobility".
- Hillary the Butler in the films Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003).
- Doubting Thomas in a small series of television advertisements for Anglian Windows.
- The voice of Jif Micro Liquid.
- The voices of Captain Smollett and Ben Gunn in The Legends of Treasure Island.
- Appearances on the BBC Radio 4 sketch show Son of Cliché.
- Voice impersonations on recordings by Frankie Goes to Hollywood:
- Voice impersonation of Robin Day on the Art of Noise track "Close Up".
- Voice of a motorbike racing commentator in episode 3 of the BBC Comedy series Grace and Favour.
- Voice of Ronald Reagan in the video to Genesis's song Land of Confusion.
He is a popular after dinner speaker and awards host for the JLA agency where he "often appears in the guise of a close relative of Brittas."
Barrie's interests include vintage motorbikes and collecting fast cars. In 1995, he released a video called Chris Barrie's Motoring Wheel Nuts, a showcase for his personal car collection. His current classic car collection comprises a Triumph TR2, MGB-GT, Wolseley 1500 and a Jaguar XJ6 (his everyday car). He is a contributor to Practical Classics magazine.
He has been married twice, first to Monica (1987–1990) then to Alecks (1997–present; 2 children).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chris Barrie.|
- Official website
- Chris Barrie at the Internet Movie Database
- Chris Barrie on National Geographic Channel
- AYME Interview – Association of Young People with ME
- 26 September 2005: BBC – Wiltshire – Films – Interview with Chris Barrie Play audio
- 11 August 2005: BBC – Wiltshire -Mark Seaman Interview with Chris Barrie Play audio
- Video Interview with Chris Barrie