Known by the masses as the elderly man rapping in the streets of London, 80-year-old Barry Newton has had a life-changing week.
He immediately became an online sensation after the website UNILAD posted a video of the pensioner reciting the explicit lyrics of 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’, Skepta’s ‘Shutdown’ and award-winning Croydon Grime juggernaut, Stormzy last Wednesday.
Clocking up millions of views, it has been shared more than 20,000 on YouTube - with Stormzy himself tweeting a clip of Barry performing his flagship track ‘Shut Up’.
Despite appearing to be candid, the video was a publicity stunt by UNILAD as part of an ad campaign for the new Robert DeNiro movie Dirty Grandpa.
Mr Newton lives with his wife of 59 years Brenda in Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead, where he stood as the candidate for UKIP in consecutive general elections in 2001 and 2005.
Giving his first interview since going viral, he said he was initially taken aback by the task: “I was frightened to death. When I saw those lines [the lyrics], it scared me absolutely stiff. But, I took on the character as I was supposed to and that was it. It just became part of me.
“I just don’t know who the heck they are,” he continued, speaking of the rappers who he covered in his animated Carnaby Street performance.
The youngest of Barry’s daughters, 51 year old Debbie Swales, was gobsmacked by the popularity of the videos.
“When I read my dad’s email with the video attached he said it had gone viral,” she said.
“I didn’t think my dad even knew the meaning of the word ‘viral’, and assumed that the video had received a few likes and had been shared once or twice.
“Imagine my surprise when I went onto social media.”
But Barry, who donned dark sunglasses and chunky jewellery for the performance, is no stranger to the limelight - he made regular appearances on the ITV sketch show Off Their Rockers between 2013 and 2015.
He has also worked on various advertising campaigns and music videos, notably appearing in the official video for Robbie Williams’ 2013 Christmas single Dream a Little Dream.
However, even at the ripe age of 80, Barry claims it is this kind of work that keeps him going: “If I wasn’t proactive like this I would be dead,” he said.
“I always want my next job to be my best job. If it’s not, I’m not very happy – but I certainly am now.”
Having been offered more work on the back of his recent success, Barry says fans should expect to see him very soon in a video involving a hidden camera and a very well-known sex shop.
When asked if a collaboration with either 50 Cent, Skepta or Stormzy was on the cards, he revealed: “That’s already been arranged.”
He was unable to comment further about the project but watch this space.