TV star and wife separate amid 'gay' reports

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The Independent Online

Entertainer Michael Barrymore announced last night that he and his wife and manager, Cheryl, have separated.

The announcement came in the wake of a series of allegations, published in the tabloid press, about the entertainer's alleged homosexual affairs.

A statement from Henri Brandman, his solicitor, said: "Michael and Cheryl wish it to be known that they are presently separated and leading their own personal lives. Cheryl will continue to act as Michael's manager and continue to give Michael her full support in his career."

Barrymore, 43, has had a string of top TV shows including Strike It Lucky and has recently been recording a new ITV series, My Kind of People, around the country.

Described by tabloid newspapers as "Britain's best loved entertainer", he has nonetheless endured an almost unprecedented level of press interest in his private life.

Prior to the recent allegations, his family published details of their estrangement from the star, former friends sold stories about his personal life and he spent a well-publicised spell in a clinic for alcohol problems.

Earlier this year, Barrymore published a book about his experiences, in which he emphasised the stability of his 18-year marriage.

But newspaper speculation reached feverish proportions last weekend, when the tabloid press alleged that he had publicly admitted being a homosexual.

The entertainer allegedly stood up at a "gay night" in the White Swan pub at Stepney, east London, after being invited on stage by a drag artist and told customers that he was gay.