The comedic actor behind ‘Barry from Watford’ has described Steve Wright MBE as “part of the cultural fabric of Britain”, as he reflected on the BBC Radio presenter's death.

Alex Lowe, the actor behind the fictional character, featured on Steve Wright in the Afternoon for 10 years.

Wright, who died suddenly this week aged 69, featured a wide-range of offbeat comedy characters throughout his shows on BBC Radio 1 and 2.

Barry from Watford was an elderly self-proclaimed ‘life coach, guru, and motivational speaker’, who first appeared on the show in 2009.


Speaking about Steve Wright to the Watford Observer, Alex Lowe said: “He was an absolute childhood hero of mine.

“I remember Steve first started when I was 11 or 12 and if I could say to my younger self then 'there will come a time when you’re doing a segment of a show with Steve Wright', I would have just been amazed.

“I really did like him, he was very good to me, great fun, and genuinely I had to pinch myself being in the studio with him.”

It took a few meetings with ‘Wrighty’ before the now 56-year-old would get a slot on his show.

Alex added: “The first time I met him was at a show in Bournemouth in 1985 and I was thrilled.

“I met him again in 1999 when I did a show about Radio 1, based on Simon Garfield book The Nation's Favourite: The True Adventures of Radio 1, and he interviewed me (regarding the show).”

Watford Observer: Alex Lowe who played 'Barry from Watford' on Steve Wright in the AfternoonAlex Lowe who played 'Barry from Watford' on Steve Wright in the Afternoon (Image: Watford Observer)

It would be another 10 years before Barry from Watford would emerge on the Big Show, with the comedian working on other characters, including spoof psychic Clinton Baptiste, who shot to fame on Phoenix Nights and remains on tour in the UK today.

In the interim, Barry from Watford was developed, and Alex believes it’s his fellow South East roots which made a connection with Steve.

Alex added: “The character is based on my cockney forebears from South East London which is where Steve Wright was from in Greenwich.

His family were very much of that old style cockney, like Barry from Watford, as families during the war were encouraged to move out to nearby suburbs, so a lot of families, in areas like Watford, were originally from London.”

In 2009, a clip was passed to Steve from former BBC newsreader Fenella Fudge, which landed Barry from Watford an interview on the Big Show.

Alex added: “And to my absolute amazement and pleasure, he said I can’t believe the response Barry has had – do you want to come in and make it a regular thing?

“So it became a semi-regular feature from there.”

It was Steve’s perfectionist nature which Alex found noteworthy from his time working with him, adding: “When I started working with him I realised how seriously he’d take it and the craft of what he did.

“He would do about five takes for just his intro of a segment - he would care about every last syllable, it was amazing.

“Ultimately, he was someone who clearly knew what he was doing: he knew instinctively what the audience would go for, what was acceptable, what was too complicated, what was easy to digest, what was going to get a laugh - and that’s why he stood the test of time.”

Despite Steve Wright's immense professionalism, Alex admitted he’d struggle to stay in character as Steve and the team would make jokes and deviate from the script.

He added: “I would write a script and then he would like to go off-script, which was always terrifying.

“And he would always make me laugh cause that’s not what I wrote!

“But that was the fun of it.”

As has been echoed by many former colleagues and listeners to the show, it was Steve Wright’s kind nature which sticks out the most for Alex.

He said: “When I think of Steve now - the memory is of me coming in from the control room and him being so lovely and making an effort to make me feel welcome and put me at ease.

“I had spoke to him recently and he said to me, perhaps we could work together again some time.

“That’s not going to happen now and that’s really sad.

“I would’ve loved to have done more with him, being with him was so thrilling – it was an honour to have worked with him.”