Multi-talented Craig Charles is impossible to pin down

(Ian West/PA Wire)
(Ian West/PA Wire)


HE’S an actor and presenter, radio star, DJ and poet.

Nailing down Craig Charles to just one thing is a virtual impossibility.

And that’s just the way the former Coronation Street favourite likes it after family tragedy led him to take a long, hard look at his life.

Craig was in the Australian jungle in 2014 for I’m A Celebrity! when he was told his brother Dean had passed away suddenly.

“He died at 52, which is the age I am now,” Craig, who’s in Glasgow on Saturday for the BBC Radio 6 Music Festival, told iN10.

“It makes you re-evaluate. I’d been playing Lloyd for 10 years and I thought that if I dropped dead, would I be happy with what I’d achieved?

“I just felt there was room for some more adventure, surely.

“I had the chance to do Red Dwarf and they couldn’t make it without me, while Corrie will always go on. So it was a no-brainer really.

“It opened up other things for me, like The Gadget Show. I’ve got a really low attention span and I like doing different things.

“I wanted to get out there and express myself.”

There’s no doubting that Craig has done that, with his various projects including teaming up with the BBC Philharmonic to perform poems he’d penned for his two daughters.

The Red Dwarf return was welcomed by fans of the sci-fi comedy, which ran for years on BBC2 before switching to Dave.

The return, with the 11th series, last year was hailed as a triumph and one of the best ever.

That’s led to more being commissioned and Craig says he was happy to re-visit a much-loved favourite.

“We were winners at the Comedy Awards, which was really nice. It was accepted back and fans seemed to think pretty universally it was the best work we’d ever done.

“It was great to come back with a bang rather than folk thinking, ‘why did they bother?’

“I was aware that you’re messing with a legacy and the nostalgia people have for it.

“You do worry about it being seen as not as funny or from a bygone era. Luckily, it’s not dated because we’re set in the future and a lot of the things we featured that seemed like science fiction are now science fact.

“And I’m sure some of the things we’re doing now that seem absurd will one day become reality. We were always cutting edge.”

The BBC Radio 6 Music Festival takes place in Glasgow from Friday to Sunday, with Depeche Mode the headline act at Barrowland Ballroom on the Sunday, their first live UK show since 2013.

Sparks, Goldfrapp, Edwyn Collins and Belle and Sebastian are among the other acts taking part.

Craig will be doing a live DJ set on the Saturday and he admits music has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember.

“I started listing to funky soul music with my dad,” he recalls. “And just about my first memories are my mum and dad dancing round the kitchen to Ray Charles.

“I was born in Liverpool in 1964 when everybody was into The Beatles, but I got into Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding.

“I grew up to a golden era of black American music being played around the house all the time.”

Craig gets to share his passion with others with his weekend shows on 6 Music and Radio 2.

But he’s just as happy to do his many regular live sets.

“You’re always a bit worried that people won’t come, won’t dance or won’t like the music.

“But the radio shows have garnered a great following and people love to hear it out live. Having 2000 people going mental is a brilliant feeling.

“And I love the radio shows – playing my music and talking nonsense, that’s not work.

“The only thing is that with working at the weekend and now filming The Gadget Show at the start of the week, Wednesdays and Thursdays have become my weekend.”

Craig’s wife has family in Glasgow, meaning he’s a regular visitor. So what are his memories?

“We usually end up in the Brazen Head pub, so the memories are a bit hazy to be honest,” he laughs.