“Bloomin’ ‘eck, that’s not Des Barnes, is it?” That’s what Corrie fans are gasping today as the infamous telly love rat, Phil Middlemiss, posts an unrecognisable gym snap with none other than heavyweight boxer, Dillian Whyte. Middlemiss, who had a helluva run on the cobbles from 1990 to 1998, has turned 59 now and clearly, he’s packing a new kind of punch.
Sporting a jet-black tee, workout shorts and, would you believe it, Hugo Boss sliders, our lad was right chuffed in the ring with the former WBC interim heavyweight champion. One for the gram with a thumbs up, the actor, once known for his string of on-screen flings, captioned the photo: “Revenge is sweet congrats champ.”
Fans of the soap will remember the dramatic demise of his character Des in 1998 – dropped dead from a heart attack right in the arms of his wife Natalie, played by Denise Welch. He was even wrapped up in a sticky love triangle, sabotaging the engagement party of his ex, Raquel, and local good guy, Curly Watts.
After his stint on the Street, Middlemiss continued to appear on the telly, even nabbing a win on a special Corrie-themed Celebrity Come Dine With Me. But in 2012, things took a sour turn when he declared bankruptcy after a film he’d been directing in Africa collapsed due to the 2008 financial crisis.
And that’s not all. The actor also found himself ensnared in the world’s costliest bribery scandal, accused of foul play in the sale of three C-295 military planes by Airbus to the Ghanaian government. In a candid chat on Good Morning Britain, he opened up about the ordeal, revealing the toll it took on his mental health.
He said, “I ended up losing the house, the car. It’s a very stressful situation.” For two long years, he faced possible prosecution by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office for allegations of bribery and corruption. Not exactly the alias Des Barnes would’ve chosen, is it?
Despite the hardship, Middlemiss has managed to keep his spirits up, thanks in part to the support of his former Corrie co-stars. “Charlie Lawson (Jim McDonald) has been a great friend, Simon Gregson…” he said.
After seeing his transformation, we reckon the soap fans might just be saying, “I say, isn’t that Des Barnes in the ring?”