Christopher Jonathan Brown, known by the stage name Chris Barrie (born 28 March 1960), is a British actor, comedian and impressionist. He first achieved success as a vocal impressionist, notably in the ITV sketch showSpitting Image. He is best known for his roles as Arnold Rimmer in the sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf, as Gordon Brittasin the BBC sitcom The Brittas Empire and as Lara Croft's butler Hillary in the Tomb Raider franchise films.
Barrie was born in Hanover, Lower Saxony, West Germany, to a father who was serving in the British Army, and attended Methodist College Belfast boarding school in Northern Ireland. After dropping out of Brighton Polytechnic, he began his TV career as a sports personality impersonator on The David Essex Showcase; it was at this point that he adopted the surname "Barrie" for Equity reasons – as there was already an actor named Chris Brown on the Equity UK lists. He provided the voice of Ronald Reagan in the pop song "Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, as well as various vocalisations for other tracks by FGTH and Art of Noise.
Barrie has played the character Arnold J. Rimmer in all ten series of Red Dwarf. A central character, Barrie appears as Rimmer in almost every episode of the series, absent only for a brief period during series 7. For most of the series the character of Arnold Rimmer is a hologram, requiring Barrie to wear an "H" on his forehead during filming. The character is described as self-centred, neurotic, cowardly and hopeless with women.
When a pilot for an American version of the show was produced, Barrie was invited to reprise his role as Rimmer. He passed up the offer because of the constraint of the five-series contract, which is standard for American television. Robert Llewellyn was the only cast member of the British show to participate in the pilot, which was not picked up.
In May 2015, it was announced that he would be returning to Red Dwarf for the eleventh and twelfth series.
Barrie is also well known for his role as Gordon Brittas, the title role in The Brittas Empire, a BBC sitcom running from January 1991 to February 1997 for seven series, with 52 episodes, including two Christmas specials. It centred on the life of a well-meaning but incompetent manager of Whitbury New Town Leisure Centre. Quite different from his character in Red Dwarf, Barrie was accompanied by a supporting cast who played the other staff members of the leisure centre. Each episode revealed a disastrous occurrence, which Brittas was sure he could sort out, the truth being that he was normally one of the causes of all the trouble that went on (and oblivious to this as well).
In 2014 Barrie appeared in the music video to Little Mix's version of Word Up! as Mr Brittas.
Chris Barrie's most recent TV work includes Britain's Greatest Machines with Chris Barrie, screened on the National Geographic Channel from 4 June 2009.
Barrie has also hosted the television series Chris Barrie's Massive Engines and Chris Barrie's Massive Machines on theDiscovery Channel which was later shown on Channel 5 where both series received record viewing figures and are now on DVD. The latest in this series Massive Speed with Chris Barrie was shown on Discovery Channel from November 2006. In 2006, he appeared as a regular team captain in the BBC Two quiz show Petrolheads, and is the star of the British crime/comedy/drama film Back In Business, in which he plays Tom Marks.
Barrie's interests include vintage motorbikes and collecting fast cars. In 1995, he released a video called Chris Barrie's Motoring Wheel Nuts, a showcase for his personal car collection. His current classic car collection comprises a Triumph TR2, MGB-GT, Wolseley 1500 and a Jaguar XJ6 (his everyday car). He is a contributor to Practical Classics magazine.
He has been married twice, first to Monica De Meo (1987–1990) then to Alecks (1997–present; 2 children).