Barry Evans (actor)
Barry Evans as Jamie McGregor in Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1968)
|Born||Barry Joseph Evans
18 June 1943
|Died||9 February 1997
Claybrooke Magna, Leicestershire, England
|Years active||1964 - 1993|
Born in Guildford, Surrey, and abandoned as a baby, Evans was educated at the orphanage boarding schools run by the Shaftesbury Homes, first at Fortescue House School in Twickenham and then at Bisley Boys' School in Bisley, Surrey. His acting ability was recognised at an early age and he often played the leading roles in school plays. Evans attended the Italia Conti Academy and later won a John Gielgud Scholarship to study at the Central School of Speech and Drama.
One of his first film credits was when he played the lead role in Clive Donner's film Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1968) where he was cast as Jamie McGregor, a teenager who finds it difficult to lose his virginity. Photoplay magazine called Evans a "bright and exciting new actor", and the Sunday Telegraph described his screen debut as "brilliant".
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush represented a breakthrough in a number of technical features: the script, the photography and the filming techniques. Jamie McGregor speaks his thoughts out loud. The soundtrack was also rightly famous, performed by the likes of Traffic and The Spencer Davis Group. The film was listed to compete at the 1968 Cannes Film Festival, but the Festival was cancelled that year. The film saw the beginning of a long-lasting friendship between Barry Evans and the director, Clive Donner, whom Evans regarded as one of his best friends.
His first major television role was in the sitcom Doctor in the House (1969–70), based on Richard Gordon's series of novels, which had already been turned into a feature film series. Evans starred as the young student doctor Michael Upton, whom Evans felt he bore no similarities to. Following the show's success, he starred in the sequel to the series, Doctor at Large (1971). Evans enjoyed working with his fellow actors George Layton, Geoffrey Davies, Robin Nedwell and Richard O'Sullivan, he later described these as the best years of his life. Work on the "Doctor" series was extremely intense though, and left him no time to take on other roles; he therefore declined to appear in the sequels.
In 1976 he had the lead role in Stanley Long's sex comedy Adventures of a Taxi Driver. Unlike Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush where the viewer is allowed to partake in Jamie's thoughts, here Evans' character breaks the fourth wall throughout the film. Although the film was successful Evans decided not to appear in the sequels.
His most well-known comedy role was as Jeremy Brown in the ITV sitcom Mind Your Language (1977–79), which was a humorous look at an evening class tutor teaching English to foreign students. The series was immensely popular, both in the UK and internationally and more so in the countries the actors portrayed. The series was written by TV scriptwriter Vince Powell, and was adapted for American TV as What a Country! in 1986. In the same year it was briefly revived in Britain for a further 13 episodes.
Later career and death
By the later half of 1980s his youthful appearance was working against him, and he found it difficult to obtain mature acting roles in keeping with his age. His last role was as Bazzard in the 1993 film adaptation of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. By the mid 1990s Barry was working as a minicab driver in Leicestershire.
In February 1997 Evans was found dead in his bungalow by police. The police discovered Evans' body in his living room after going to the house to tell him they had recovered his stolen car which had been reported missing the day before. The cause of his death has never been confirmed. The Coroner found a blow to Evans' head and also found high levels of alcohol in his system. There was also a short written will found on a table next to his body and a spilt packet of pre decimalization aspirin was found on the floor. An open verdict was eventually given. An 18-year-old man was arrested but later released without charge due to insufficient evidence. Barry was cremated at Golders Green. His ashes were later removed and their current location remains unknown.
|1967||Much Ado About Nothing||Coffee boy|
|1967||The Baron||Hotel porter (uncredited)|
|1969||Journey to the Unknown||Jimmy Rintoul|
|1969–1971||Doctor in the House
Doctor at Large
|Dr Michael Upton|
|1971||Journey to Murder||Jimmy Rintoul|
|1972||Late Night Theatre||Joe|
|Mind Your Language||Mr Jeremy Brown|
|1978||Crown Court||Barry Sellars|
|1982||Legacy of Murder||Robin Bright|
|1967||The White Bus||Boy|
|1967||Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush||Jamie McGregor|
|1969||Alfred the Great||Ingild|
|1971||Die Screaming, Marianne||Eli Frome|
|1976||Adventures of a Taxi Driver||Joe North|
|1976||Under the Doctor||Doctor Boyd, Psychiatrist/
Mr Johnson/Lt Cranshaw/Colin Foster
|1993||The Mystery of Edwin Drood||Bazzard|
- Hayward, Anthony (13 February 1997). "Obituary: Barry Evans". The Independent (London, UK). Retrieved 6 January 2011.
- Hayward, Anthony (13 February 1997). "Obituary: Barry Evans". The Independent. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
- Bennetto, Jason (12 February 1997). "Police investigate `suspicious' death of sitcom actor". The Independent (London, UK: Independent Print Limited). Retrieved 25 December 2010.
- Upton, Julian (2004). Fallen Stars: Tragic Lives and Lost Careers. London, UK: Headpress. p. 89. ISBN 1-900486-38-5.