This page uses content from the Barry Evans biography page on the English version of Wikipedia and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. This list of authors can be seen in the page history. Rotten Tomatoes disclaims any and all warranties as to the accuracy or reliability of the content.
Barry Joseph Evans (June 18, 1943 - February 11, 1997) was an English actor and television performer best known for his appearances in British sitcoms such as Doctor in the House and Mind Your Language.
Born in Guildford, Surrey in June 1943, Barry Evans was educated at the orphanage boarding schools run by The Shaftesbury Homes. First at Fortescue House School in Twickenham, then at Bisley Boys School in Bisley, Surrey, until he was 16. His acting ability was recognised at an early age and Barry was always playing leading roles in school plays. He then went on to the Italia Conti stage school and won a John Gielgud Scholarship to the Central School of Speech and Drama.
Gifted with an appealing boyish face, Evans' acting career was based on an image of innocent youthfulness.
He appeared in the film Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1967), where he was perfectly cast as a sex-starved boy who finds it difficult to lose his virginity. One of his first television credits was in the soap opera Crossroads in 1964.
Barry Evans' first major role was in the sitcom Doctor in the House, based on Richard Gordon's series of novels that had already being adapted as (feature films. Evans starred as the earnest but gullible Michael Upton, set in a hospital where all kinds of Carry On style humour occurred. The series had a remarkable writing crew behind the scenes, including John Cleese and Graham Chapman (of Monty Python), and Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie (of The Goodies), as well as Barry Cryer. (Both Graham Chapman and Graeme Garden studied medicine and were qualified doctors).
A sequel to that series quickly followed with Doctor At Large in 1971. Again, the writing talent behind the series was notable, with John Cleese writing some of the episodes - with one in particular providing some of the inspiration for Fawlty Towers, and another writer being Jonathan Lynn (co-writer of Yes Minister and its sequel Yes, Prime Minister). Evans enjoyed working with his fellow actors and later described this period as the best years of his life.
In 1977, he as starred Jeremy Brown in the ITV sitcom Mind Your Language, which was about a teacher who had to teach immigrants English. By today's standards it is perhaps not entirely politically correct, with every character a foreign stereotype. This series was written by veteran TV scriptwriter Vince Powell, and was adapted for American TV as What a Country! in 1986-1987.
One of Barry's last appearances on British television was in 1982's Emery Presents or Legacy of Murder, alongside Dick Emery.
By the late 1980s, Evans' youthful image was working against him, and he found it difficult to obtain mature acting roles in line with his age. By the 1990s he was driving his own minicab in Leicestershire, where in 1997 he died alone in a dilapidated bungalow at the age of 53.
Death was due to alcoholic poisoning, but the circumstances were unclear. A teenager was arrested and charged with his murder, although later released, and the coroner issued an open verdict.
Evans' theatrical agent for 20 years was Helen Malone, who found him not only a good actor, but a nice man. Following his death the Daily Mail published an article revealing his bisexuality: for a long time he had supposedly had a crush on actor/director Lionel Blair, but the love of his life had been a woman whose husband was in jail for murder.
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