Barney Harper-McBride, played by Tom Scurr, debuted on-screen on 26 September 2011. The character was introduced as one of five new students who arrive to study at Hollyoaks Community College. Barney was the fourth new student to be cast into the serial. Scurr said the audition process was "very quick" and "good fun". He then had a screen test in London, in front of a casting director named Rick. Four days later, Scurr received a call confirming that he had secured the role, he then travelled to Liverpool to begin a filming career.
Barney arrives during Freshers Week at the HCC, where Leanne Holiday (Jessica Forrest) takes him to his student accommodation. There he meets his roommates Annalise Appleton (Tamaryn Payne), Will Savage (James Atherton), Rob Edwards (David Atkin) and Scott Sabeka (Calvin Denba). Barney teaches the other students about his posh wine, he goes out on a night out with the other students and gets drunk. The next morning he wakes up in bed with Jade (Caroline Read) and the rest of the boys are shocked that Barney is the one that managed to pull a female. He later attempts to learn how to use a washing machine and adjusts to life living as a student.
Barney takes his friends to spend New Year at his home. His parents are away on a skiing strip. When Barney overhears his friends criticising his lifestyle which causes an argument between them. Barney decides to losen up and party with his friends, then his parent unexpectedly return him. His father Angus (Edward Peel) tells him that he would like him to leave HCC and attend a high class university. Barney is reluctant, but his mother Judith (Caroline Langrishe) threatens to stop his allowance. When Judith scrutinises Ash for her dress sense and bemoans his choice of friends, Barney lashes out at his parents and defends his circle of friends. Barney decides to defy their wishes and return to HCC and they refuse to give him money and take away his inheritance. Barney begins to struggle without money. He accidentally leaves money in College Coffee and is mugged by Phoebe Jackson (Mandip Gill). With no money left, he takes a job cleaning the Student Halls. Barney goes to visit Scott where he is hiding from an old friend and eventually convinces him to make up with him. In Summer 2012 Barney, along with his flatmates, leave halls and become homeless. Barney and Rob move into Tony Hutchinson(Nick Pickard) and Cindy Longford's (Stephanie Waring) flat. Nana McQueen(Diane Langton) asks Barney to begin dating Carmel McQueen (Gemma Merna) for money. He finishes his second year at university and returns to Scotland.