Barry Evans, 1943 – 1997
Barry Evans was the youthful looking actor who will be best remembered for his roles in the Doctor In The …..series and the hugely popular Mind Your Language.
Whist he had no further really high profile roles he did continue his career before his death in 1997 caused something of a mystery.
Despite the actor’s popularity in his day he story is quite a sad one.
Born Barry Joseph Evans on the 18th June 1943 in Guildford, Surrey, he was orphaned as a baby. Evans was educated at the orphanage boarding schools run by the Shaftsbury Homes, first at Fortescue House School in Twickenham in a Dr Barnado’s Home and then at Bisley Boys’ School in Bisley.
His acting ability was spotted at an early age when he would often play the leading roles in school plays. For a brief time Evans lived in Yalding in Kent before moving to London.
Attending the Italia Conti Academy, Evans would later win a John Gielgud Scholarship to study at the Central School of Speech and Drama.
Barry Evans died aged just 53. His death became something of an unsolved mystery. In February 1997 police discovered Evans’s body in his living room after going to the house to tell him that they had recovered his stolen car, that had been reported missing the day before. The cause of his death has never been confirmed. The coroner found a blow to his head and high levels of alcohol in his system
A short will was found on a table next to his body and a spilt packet of aspirin tablets, bearing a pre-decimalisation price tag, indicating that the pack was at least 26 years old, was found on the floor, although the coroner concluded that he had not taken any of them. An open verdict was recorded. An 18-year-old man was arrested but later released without charge due to insufficient evidence. Evans was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, his death still fascinates fans today.
One of his Barry Evans first film credits was the lead role in Clive Donner’s film “Here e Go Round The Mulberry Bush” in 1967. Here he played Jamie McGregor, a teenager who finds it difficult to lose his virginity. Photoplay magazine called Evans a “bright and exciting new actor”, whilst The Sunday Telegraph described his screen debut as “brilliant”.
It would be a year later, 1969, when he would get his first major TV role, in Doctor In The House that would caterpult him to prominence. Evans played student doctor Michael Upton.
The series was a huge success and Evans would go on to star in the follow up Doctor At Large.
In later years Evans was said to recall how he enjoyed working with his fellow actors George Layton, Geoffrey Davies, Robin Nedwell and Richard O’Sullivan, describing them as the best years of his life. However work on the “Doctor” series was extremely intense leaving him no time to take on other roles; he therefore declined to appear in the sequels. However, in a later interview he stated that he had been “incredibly stupid” to turn the series down.
His next high profile role was again in sitcom when he starred as Jeremy Brown an English teacher, teaching English to foreign students at night school. The series was hugely successful running from 1977 to 1979 and was sold all over the world.
In 1986 he reprised his role when the show returned for a further 13 episodes in selected ITV regions.
Barry Evans also starred alongside Dick Emery as trusted assistant Robin Bright in the comedy thriller Legacy Of Murder in 1982.
Unfortunately by the mid 1980’s Evans still youthful appearance was working against him and he began to find it difficult to obtain mature acting roles in keeping with his age. His last role was as Bazzard in the 1993 film adaptation of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
By the mid–1990s Evans was working as a minicab driver in Leicestershire.