Article excerpt

Byline: By LARA GOULD TV Reporter

BIG Brother runner-up Michael Barrymore is to marry his long-term boyfriend.

As he was flooded with offers of TV work, the former Strike It Lucky host said yesterday that he would take advantage of new gay marriage laws and tie the knot with partner Shaun Davies.

"But do I have to pop the question?" joked Barrymore, 53, who now plans a permanent return to Britain.

He fled to New Zealand five years ago after meat factory worker Stuart Lubbock died in the swimming pool of the star's Essex mansion during a party.

But the ex-game show host insisted he had nothing to apologise for. "I had a clear conscience going into the Big Brother house," he said. "You can't sort everything out on a TV programme. When I'd come out of the diary room and I'd been crying, I thought, 'Maybe this is the wrong thing to do'.

"Then I thought, 'Well you can't go round worrying what other people think all the time'.

"I just allowed myself to be myself. And I've come out the richer for it."

He added: "I'm staying in the UK for this and I've got some other things I'm working on.

"I'm a resident in New Zealand at the moment, but this is my home."

Troubled Barrymore compared his time in the house to a stint in rehab.

The former family favourite, who was locked up with the 10 other housemates for more than three weeks, joked: "Having done eight rehabs I didn't think I was going into another one.

"But this was like a lot of what I would do for a living anyway."

Barrymore took second place in the Channel 4 reality show behind noncelebrity Chantelle Houghton, and in the end received a warm response from fellow housemates.

Preston said: "I went in there thinking, 'Evil man'. But within 10 minutes I thought he was lovely."

Maggot added: "I think he was a bit nervous about how people were going to react to him. But Michael's a really great guy."

But last night Stuart Lubbock's family reacted angrily to Barrymore's return to the limelight. Dad Terry Lubbock, from Harlow, Essex, who protested outside the Big Brother studios on Friday night, vowed to "hound" the star until he breaks his silence about his son's last moments. …