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Remembering Barry Philips
Last uploaded : Sunday 18th Mar 2018 at 12:38
Contributed by : Carol Gould


Barry Philips - 1946 - 2018

I first met Barry in early 1976 when he was appearing in ‘East’ in Greenwich. I traipsed from Knightsbridge to Greenwich several times, enraptured by his stunning performance. I also thought he was awfully cute. I was 22. After chatting him up in the bar we ended up at the train station and discovered we lived around the corner from each other in Kensington. When we got to London I invited him in and we sat on the floor of my kitchen and talked non-stop until dawn, as one did at that age.

My mother was scandalised that I was dating an actor but he was my shining star. Our affection for each other lasted for 42 years.

Most of you know all of this but for those who do not I thought I would talk a bit about his wonderful work. Bursting with talent and energy, Barry was in his twenties when he joined the Steven Berkoff Company in the mid-1970s. The production of ‘East’ at the Greenwich Theatre in 1976 was a hit. He was the lead in that production as well as in ‘Greek,’ ‘Agamemnon,’ ‘Fall of the House of Usher’ and ‘Kafka’ and was part of the Berkoff Company for many years. He appeared in other productions including ‘The Erpingham Camp’ at the King’s Head Theatre but his greatest work was without doubt for Berkoff. One day in 1980 the Daily Telegraph had a front page photograph with the caption , ‘Barry Philips - the next Olivier?’

My play, ‘A Chamber Group,’ loosely based on the Fires of London, was well-received at the 1980 Edinburgh Festival when Barry was there in another production. He always loved my play and this past year was trying to get it produced in LA. How sad that this never came to pass.

He went to LA in the 1980s - by then Steven Berkoff was enjoying a burgeoning career in Hollywood films but LA never brought Barry the success he deserved. I often wonder if he would have had success in his later years had he returned to the UK..

Barry had an incredible memory and stage presence. He had star quality - an actor to whom the audience was drawn no matter who else was on stage. He should have been a major figure in the

annals of British theatre and film but destiny was not on his side.

The first time I saw ‘East’ I rang my father and said, ‘Daddy, what does c*”*t mean? He said, ‘Oh, honey, don’t ever use that word again!’ I can thank the Berkoff Company for bringing me out of my sheltered childhood into the twentieth century!

Fast forward to recent years: when I had serious cancer Barry rang me twice or three times a week. I loved his sense of humour
no matter how life was treating him.

Two years ago I found a wallet in St John’s Wood Road. It was bursting with cash, credit cards and advance train tickets along with a young male student’s ID from the Royal College of Music. I rang the college and asked them to have him ring me. He rang the next day, sounding glum and rather disinterested. I was meeting Barry, who was in from LA, for lunch at a café in Little Venice and told the student to meet me there. When he arrived, he stared in silence at Barry and me. I gave him the wallet and he mumbled something. I could see Barry doing a slow boil. He said ‘Haven’t you brought Carol a gift? Flowers? Pay for her meal? Could you possibly say thank you?!’ The lad took the wallet and said, ‘I have to go now.’ Barry rose from his chair and said ‘I’m going to thump that f’ing twirp.’ I had to stop him but I think this gives you an idea of what a decent and loyal chap Barry was.

What an irony that he was always giving me advice on nutrition and healthy living - I was sure he would outlive all of us. But this past year I sensed a particular vulnerability in his voice - we spoke every week and even though I was enduring chemotherapy I worried more about him than about myself.

How I will miss him. You were meant to be a star, Barry, and now you are up there for all of us to see, gazing down at us for all eternity.

Carol Gould-Philips


March 2018


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