Chris Barrie Profile

He's not just famous for playing Rimmer, he's one of the country’s great impressionists.

Chris Barrie

Rimmer – both the human one and the hologram who replaced him following his death in the Red Dwarf radiation leak – is played by the immensely talented Chris Barrie.

Arnold Judas Rimmer grew up in the shadow of his much more successful brothers, who bullied him constantly as a young boy. This bullying turned him into a smeghead. Although some would argue he’s more of a git than a smeghead - a selfish, cowardly git-weasel who would probably make a brilliant dictator if he was able to influence or manipulate anyone.

Fortunately he is disliked by everyone ever, and so will never achieve the power he craves. That said, he does have past glories to fall back on. (In a previous life he was Alexander the Great’s eunuch.)

To embody a character of Rimmer's sheer magnitude (we're talking mainly about his ego here), you need an actor of the highest calibre. Step forward Mr Chris Barrie – or rather, Christopher Jonathan Brown (he had to change his name because there was already a Chris Brown in Equity). Barrie, whose vocal skills are so varied and wide-ranging that he'd make an excellent schizophrenic maniac, started his out as a sports personality impersonator on The David Essex Showcase – a show every bit as good as it sounds. Of course, it was landing his spot in Red Dwarf that catapulted Barrie's career.

Having to wear a large letter 'H' on your forehead would probably have caused a lesser actor to weep uncontrollably at the sheer Pritt Sticky embarrassment of it all, but Barrie took it in his stride, perhaps paving the way for his future role playing Lara Croft's butler in the Tomb Raider films. Let's be clear here – any actor who manages to leap from wobbly BBC sets to hang around a tight-shorted Angelina Jolie deserves to be celebrated and hand-fed grapes, while receiving a head massage.

Let's also pay homage to Chris Barrie's status as one of the country’s great but unsung impressionists. Sure he didn't get a fancypants self-titled show like Bremner or McGowan, but Chris was one of the major performers on Spitting Image, and even did the Ronald Reagan speech on the Frankie Goes to Hollywood song, Two Tribes.

Of course, Barrie is also well known as Gordon Brittass, the proto-David Brent icon from The Brittass Empire. While Gordon may be the one man more punchable than Arnold J Rimmer himself, the show ran for numerous series, proving that watching someone strut around being obnoxious yet inexplicably powerful makes for great telly. Maybe that's where Simon Cowell got his ideas.

Apart from cameo appearances in everything from Blackadder to Midsomer Murders, Chris has also followed in the footsteps in many a comic actor before him, and gone all serious presenter on us. Well, we say 'serious' – his shows for the Discovery Channel were called Massive Engines, Massive Machines and Massive Speed, which doesn't exactly shout Open University to us. Then again, we haven't caught much OU programming lately – it's probably all sex and violence now, like the rest of telly.

The other thing about Chris Barrie that fans should know is that he's a complete and utter petrolhead, having owned and indeed written about so many classic cars, he would make an excellent Top Gear presenter – should any of the current ones decide that being paid lots of money to drive incredible cars very quickly is getting a bit dull. Hmm, maybe he and Clarkson could do a swap? We can just see Jezza as Rimmer, though he'd need an extra-large H for that forehead.

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