In a previous incarnation the priest and genial co-host of Radio 4’s Saturday Live scored chart success with Don’t Leave Me This Way. Since the heady days of 1980s pop stardom he’s been an agony uncle, a best-selling memoirist, a regular on Have I Got News For You, and a contestant on Strictly. After dinner he admits to lurid excesses as a Communard, reveals how he got through the interview to train as a vicar, and how they avoid poisoning on Bake Off.
The Reverend Richard Coles is a broadcaster, writer and Church of England priest. Now known for appearances on everything from Have I Got News For You to Strictly Come Dancing, he first found fame as one half of the 1980s band, The Communards. They enjoyed three UK Top 10 hits, including the biggest-selling single of 1986: Don't Leave Me This Way.
The multi-talented Richard turned has his hand to acting, penned music for film and TV, served up advice as ‘agony uncle’ on BBC London and won a Sony Gold as presenter of The Mix on Radio 5 live.
With a successful media career already established, Richard trained for a priesthood in the Church of England - becoming what could only be described as a ‘very modern’ vicar. He was Curate at St Boltoph’s in Lincolnshire before moving to St Paul's Knightsbridge and becoming Chaplain to the Royal Academy of Music. His career in the church inspired the hit BBC2 comedy Rev. (he also advised the makers of the series on clerical matters.) He recounted his journey from ‘pop star to parson’ in his honest, amusing and best-selling memoir Fathomless Riches.
As well as his parish duties Richard continues to work in broadcasting, as an opera reviewer and frequent contributor to news, comedy and entertainment programmes. He has featured as a panellist on Have I Got News For You a number of times, co-presents Radio 4’s Saturday Live and BBC One’s The Big Painting Challenge. He’s competed in MasterChef, won Celebrity Mastermind, and has the distinction of performing “the worst Pasodoble in the history of Strictly Come Dancing”. He also makes time for the odd Songs of Praise special, appearances on QI, This Week, Would I Lie To You? and Chris Evans’ Radio 2 show.
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Richard's speech is one of the warmest I’ve heard. After a glance back to his days as a pop star, he describes the shock of wearing cassocks and sharing a dormitory at the age of 40. If you’re a fan of Rev. (for which he is the inspiration), Richard will leave you in fits of giggles. JLA Agent Carrie Ralfe
Reverend Coles on pop and priesthood