'Fans do like to know the truth'

John Fisher, head of entertainments, Thames TV, and producer of 'Strike it Lucky':

"How much will the tabloid stories, however true they may be, affect his public recognition? We are in 1995, and there's an attitude to these things that says 'what does it matter?' But you have got to weigh against that his image as a performer.

"When Jim Davidson was crashing the headlines because of his misdemeanours, the public loved it because it was part of the hell-raising image.

"The question with Michael, however tolerant the public may be, is how much do these stories square with the image they have of him? Eighty per cent of MB's public live in a very old-fashioned world.

"I think he will find total support within the profession, as long, of course, as he's supported by the public. I think what Michael has to do is come out and be honest. He has got to tell the world and then live his own life. He deserves that.

"But the moment his private life is more relaxed, will the edge go from his performance? It must give you an energy, a knife edge, and if he was more at peace, would he still have the spark?

Stewart Morris, executive producer, Barrymore, LWT:

"I would not make any comment about Michael Barrymore whatsoever. He's a lovely guy, but I'm not going to say anything at all."

Jim Davidson, comedian:

"If you want to speak to me about Michael Barrymore's exceedingly great talent, come back to me in six months. But I wouldn't want to talk about him at the moment. Do you know how Aids is spread? Cheerio."

Bernard Manning:

"If a fellow drinks, it makes no difference. But if he's gay, that is going to be a problem. People in television don't like that sort of thing. It's all right if they don't flaunt it, mind. Years ago, gays went about their business quietly and got away with it, but now they've started flaunting it. He looks ugly enough in a suit - God knows what he'd look like in a frock. But his fans - well, they will bend over backwards to please him, won't they? [Overcome with laughter]."

Peter Hepple, consultant editor of 'The Stage':

"It really doesn't matter what people do in their private lives. The general public are not too bothered by anything that artists get up to. It's not like Hugh Grant.

"Michael always rather kept himself to himself. He's rather a private person.

"I don't know that he's 'tormented by demons'. I haven't heard any other rumours before - but maybe in the past he just wasn't interesting enough for rumours to be circulated about him."

Paul Connew, executive editor, 'Sunday Mirror':

"His friends have said to us he's a mixed-up man who perhaps would deny his sexuality to even himself. I don't think for a moment that being gay or bisexual it would damage his popularity. Fans will sympathise.

"But there could be an argument that MB sought to benefit from his autobiography. If you choose to tell your life story, you can't really complain if the media find out you've been less than candid. We were not saying he deserves to be down-graded in the popularity stakes. Fans do like to know the truth, and some may resent the less than wholly accurate impression he's given them. But no, I don't think he's blown his career."

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