Portrayed by Paul Barber, Barrington “Horse” Mitchell is one of the central characters in both the 1997 classic comedy ‘The Full Monty’ and its 2023 TV sequel of the same name. In the original film, Horse, who is a few years older than most members of the group, is recruited into the Full Monty after he demonstrates his dancing skills during audition. He is one of the six men to perform in the iconic climactic scene of the film. When the sequel series begins, it becomes quickly apparent that the intermediate years haven’t been kind to Horse. The hard labor of his youth and beyond has caught up with him. He is physically frail, uses an electric scooter, and receives disability benefits. The last one is his single source of money as he is unable to work and evidently hasn’t saved up anything. If the events of depicted in the 2023 FX on Hulu (in the US) and Disney+ series have made you wonder whether Horse is dead in ‘Full Monty,’ we got you covered. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Is Horse Dead?
Yes, Horse is dead in the first season of ‘The Full Monty.’ Among the former members of the Full Monty, Horse’s circumstances are by far the worst. He is the primary vehicle through whom the series creators Simon Beaufoy (also the screenwriter of the original film) and Alice Nutter offer a blistering critique of the modern Britain, demonstrating that seven prime ministers and eight northern regeneration policies haven’t changed the situation for the common people.
Horse loses his disability benefits following a deliberately apathetic assessment of his condition and is forced to go back to work. The problem is that the world has moved so far ahead, that Horse soon finds that he is unfit for almost any kind of job. Without any work, he begins to starve but doesn’t tell his friends about this, holding onto the only thing he has left from his youth — his pride. In episode 6, he visits a job hub where the inherent dysfunctionality of bureaucratic governance finally pushes him beyond the limits of his patience. He stands on a chair in protest of the systemic antipathy, trying to communicate his frustration to the uncaring world.
The employees of the job hub largely ignore him until he puts a knife to his throat. Although Darren, who is also there, succeeds in placating the older man, a local addict named Miller picks up the knife, and the situation suddenly devolves into a hostage crisis. Gaz, Dave, and Lomper show up, and after Miller recognizes them from their 1997 performance, the men dance until they manage to subdue Miller. However, Horse falls sick and is hospitalized.
In the penultimate episode, Horse’s friends learn that he is suffering from malnutrition and needs a pacemaker. They would have probably taken care of the cost. But Horse refuses to stay in the hospital after learning that they need beds for other patients. He is unable is to go far. Remembering a visit to the beach with his family when he was young, Horse dies. His friends subsequently arrange a funeral for him and burn his body on a pyre.
Did Paul Barber Leave The Full Monty?
Given that his character is dead, it’s safe to assume Barber has left ‘The Full Monty.’ However, the show was developed as a limited series, so it’s highly unlikely that there will be a second season. Reflecting on the fact that what happens to Horse underscores the failure of the welfare system, Robert Carlyle, who portrays Gaz, told The New York Times, “The whole Horse arc is tragic. There’s a moment I loved, you know when he goes to the supermarket? He’s got the packet of sausages and he’s slapping it against the self-checkout scanner. He says, ‘Where are all the checkout girls? They’ve all gone.’”
The actor continues, “He’s trying to put money into that machine and the guy says, ‘Use a card.” But he hasn’t got a card. That’s something you don’t see on TV.” A veteran of the industry of over four decades, Barber has appeared in projects such as ‘Father Brown,’ ‘The Musketeers,’ (2014–2016), and ‘Britannia.’ He is set to appear in the upcoming film ‘The Baby in the Basket.’