Barrymore picks his prime time to come out

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The Independent Online
Michael Barrymore last night set a new standard for celebrity declarations of homosexuality, telling his audience: "You haven't come out until you've come out on prime time."

The popular television light entertainer had already come out in a London club and on a gay radio station last week.

But last night he continued his compensating for years of repression, declaring himself again at the National Television Awards at Wembley.

Mr Barrymore won three awards, for most popular entertainment presenter, most popular family programme and most popular quiz programme at the ceremony which will be broadcast on ITV tonight.

He had arrived with his wife Cheryl and gave her a big kiss when his success was announced. At first he joked, saying: "I have a telegram here from Hugh Grant. It says 'Michael, thank you. Thank you. Oh thank you'." He added: "If I had known it was going to turn out like this, I would have opened my mouth years ago."

The applause for Barrymore was rapturous, seeming to show that his declaration had not affected his popularity.

He added: "I would like to say that it isn't what happens to you in your life, it's how you deal with it. If you have family and friends, they can help you through the most troubled time. When you have the support and love of a nation, then no problem apart from death is unsolvable. I thank you for being my kind of people and I hope that you will allow me to live my kind of life."

The National Television Awards are the first where viewers vote on the most popular shows and programmes. More than 20,000 votes were registered.

Mrs Barrymore was at her husband's side throughout the awards ceremony. Although she stopped living with him a week ago, she continues to be his business manager. Other performers at the awards ceremony were bemused as to how to react to the occasion.

Des O'Connor, who won the best talk show award, made a joke of it: "I don't know what the fuss is all about. When I was 10 there were boys knocking on my door asking my mother 'Is Dessie coming out?' "

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