To his legions of fans across the world, Chris is best known as Rimmer – the Red Dwarf character who made love only once in his life. To others he is Hilary, Angelina Jolie’s butler in Tomb Raider; but to many he will forever be remembered as Gordon Brittas, the most irritating manager in the history of the British leisure centre industry.
Chris has since added more strings to his bow as presenter of Massive Engines, exploring almost every invention in mechanised transport from trains to airships. As the proud owner of several classic cars, motorcycles and trucks, it played perfectly to one of his biggest obsessions.
After moving to London from his native Northern Ireland, Chris started out in the comedy clubs as an impressionist. It wasn’t long before he was picked up by the producers of Spitting Image, and he went on to provide the voices for a stream of characters from HRH Prince Charles to Paul Daniels.
For live audiences, Chris performs after dinner, as a speaker or in cabaret. He also hosts awards and lightens up conferences. It’s not unknown for him to toss the audience a curved ball, particularly in relation to those all-important health & safety issues: “What would you do if faced by a tiger rampaging through your office?”
Chris Barrie is now best known as the hologram Rimmer in the hit series Red Dwarf, as Gordon Brittas in The Brittas Empire (BBC1) and as one of the principal male voice artists on Spitting Image. He began his show business career as one of the original Comedy Store Gong Show performers which led to appearances on the BBCs David Essex Showcase and the Jasper Carrott Election Special of 1983, which gave Chris’s career the kick start it needed.
His early television and radio experience includes a series of On the Fringe for HTV, Stomping on the Cat and Pajamarama for LWT, 6.55 Special on BBC2 with Emma Thompson, The Russell Harty Show for BBC 1 as well as Weekending, Son of Cliché and The Uncyclopaedia of Rock for Radio.
As well as contributing to the late night Channel 4 sketch show, Pushing up Daisies / Coming Next, Chris’s main work in the mid eighties was his contribution to ITV’s Spitting Image as one of the main voice artists. Chris worked on the show from the pilot in 1983 through to 1990 and this included several specials for NBC and HBO in America. Although by his own admission he was very much a ‘tail-ender’, Chris was a major part of the puppeteering team during these years.
In 1987 Chris was cast as the insufferable Arnold J Rimmer in the multi award winning cult sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf. By 1999 eight series had been transmitted and the show had sold all over the world. In 1990 Chris created another comic grotesque by the name of Gordon Brittas, the anally retentive, chainsaw voiced leisure centre manger from hell. The Brittas Empire ran for seven series culminating in the 1997 Christmas Special.
Other acting roles include the part of Alexander Pope in the Channel 4 production of Handel: Honour, Profit and Pleasure, Zastrozzi, televised in April 1986 and a lead role in Plague of Goodness, the controversial Radio 4 Monday Play. His cameo appearances include the Lenny Henry Show, Happy Families and Blackadder III. In Spring 1990 Chris played the lead part in a national tour of the farce, Totally Foxed.
In 1998 Chris toured the UK with a one man show. He appeared in the ITV film White Goods, alongside Lenny Henry and Ian McShane and went onto complete two series of A Prince Among Men for the BBC. After the turn of the century, he concentrated on corporate work such as hosting award ceremonies, linking conferences and after dinner speaking. He also completed two Tomb Raider films and appeared in John Mortimer’s Ceremony in Three Flats on Radio 4.
Chris Barrie’s Massive Machines followed in late ’04 and Massive Speed was completed in 2006. 2007 was a busy year. In addition to developing further TV series and embarking on a writing ‘career’ with the classic car magazine ‘Practical Classics’, Chris took on a cameo role in an edition of Midsomer Murders. He also played the title role in ‘The Optician’, a short film for Distant Light Films and gave his Headmaster for ‘When Evil Calls’, billed as the first made-for-mobile horror series.
One of the highlights of 2009 was the return of Red Dwarf in a three part special ‘Back to Earth’, celebrating 21 years of the sci-fi phenomenon. Chris also completed two four-part series’ of ‘Britain’s Greatest Machines’ for National Geographic continuing his mission to bring the glorious history of Britain’s engineering heritage to the masses.
The return of Red Dwarf continued in 2012, reviving the original format of six half hours recorded in front of a studio audience. This series is accepted as being RD10, with Back to Earth labelled as RD9. Who knows, perhaps 2015 will be the year of RD12?