Richard Coles presenting a talk at Greenbelt 2012.
26 March 1962 |
South Warwickshire College of Further Education
King's College London
University of Leeds
College of the Resurrection, Mirfield
|Church||Church of England|
|Congregations served||St Botolph's Church, Boston, Lincolnshire
St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge
St Mary the Virgin, Finedon
|Offices held||Chaplain of the Royal Academy of Music|
Richard Coles (born 26 March 1962) is an English musician, journalist and Church of England priest. He is known for having been the multi-instrumentalist who partnered Jimmy Somerville in the 1980s band The Communards, which achieved three Top Ten hits, including the Number 1 record and best-selling single of 1986, a club/dance version of "Don't Leave Me This Way". He also appears frequently on radio and television as well as in newspapers. In March 2011 he became the regular host of BBC Radio 4's Saturday Live programme.
Coles was born in Northampton, England and educated at the independent Wellingborough School (where he was a choirboy) and at the South Warwickshire College of Further Education, Department of Drama and the Liberal Arts. He later attended King's College London where he studied theology from 1990. He was later awarded an MA by research from the University of Leeds for work on the Greek text of the Epistle to the Ephesians.
Coles had learned to play the saxophone, clarinet and keyboards and moved to London in 1980 where he played in theatre. In 1983 he appeared with Jimmy Somerville in the Lesbian and Gay Youth Video Project film Framed Youth: Revenge of The Teenage Perverts, which won the Grierson Award. Coles joined Bronski Beat on saxophone in 1983.
In 1984 Somerville left Bronski Beat and he and Coles formed The Communards, who were together for just over three years and had three UK Top 10 hits, including the biggest-selling single of 1986 with a version of "Don't Leave Me This Way", which was at Number 1 for four weeks. They split in 1988 and Somerville went solo.
Post-music career and church ministry
Coles provided narration for The Style Council's film JerUSAlem in 1994 and also started a career as a writer and journalist, most notably with the Times Literary Supplement and the Catholic Herald. He came to the Christian faith in his late twenties, after "the best of times, the worst of times", pop success and the deaths of friends as a result of HIV. From 1991 to 1994 he studied for a BA in theology at King's College London. He was selected for training for priesthood in the Church of England and began his training at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield, in 2003 before being ordained in 2005.
After ordination Coles was a curate at St Botolph's Church in Boston, Lincolnshire and then at St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge in London with his dachshund, Daisy, as his "faithful assistant". He has been chaplain of the Royal Academy of Music and has also played Dr Frank N Furter in a local concert and conducted an atheist funeral for Mo Mowlam in 2005.
On 1 November 2012 (All Saints Day), Darton, Longman and Todd published his book Lives of the Improbable Saints, illustrated by Ted Harrison, a precis of the life stories of nearly 200 lesser-known saints.
From 2011 he has been on the board of Wellingborough Homes, a social enterprise providing housing and community support for the borough of Wellingborough. In 2012 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Northampton and also became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Coles is openly gay and lives with his partner in a celibate relationship, in respect for the current rules within the Church of England. Commenting on the current Church of England policy on same-sex relationships for clergy, Coles told The Daily Telegraph, “It's not as I would have it, but then it's not about me.”
Broadcasting and media appearances
Coles still does broadcasting work, which he describes as “just showing off”, including Nightwaves on BBC Radio 3 which he formerly presented, and Newsnight Review on BBC Two. On 15 May 2008 he was on the BBC Radio 4 panel game show Heresy and he has appeared three times as a guest on the topical BBC Television news quiz Have I Got News for You, first in 1994, then in May 2009 and most recently in May 2013. Coles presented a special edition of Songs of Praise on 10 January 2010. He was a guest on the BBC Radio 4 comedy Heresy in May 2010 and a Children in Need special of the BBC Four quiz Only Connect in November of the same year.
Having regularly guest-hosted the Radio 4 programme Saturday Live, while regular host Fi Glover was on maternity leave from 2008 to 2009, Coles replaced Glover permanently in 2011. On 1 September 2011, he presented a short piece on his home town and parish of Finedon for the Radio 4 programme You and Yours. On 14 December 2012 and 06 December 2013, he appeared as a guest on the BBC comedy quiz show QI. On 12 January 2014, Coles won the BBC's Celebrity Mastermind quiz. His specialist subject was the Mapp and Lucia novels of E. F. Benson.
- Richard Coles (6 December 2009). "My week: Richard Coles". The Observer (London). Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- "Changes to BBC Radio 4's Saturday Live". Retrieved 2011-03-18.
- "Newsnight Review - Richard Coles". news.bbc.co.uk. 6 March 2008. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- Richard Coles (2005). Fathomless riches? : the United Bible Societies' Greek text of the Epistle to the Ephesians (MA thesis). University of Leeds.
- "Jimmy Somerville - Biography". www.jimmysomerville.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- "BFI - Film & TV Database - Framed Youth Revenge Of The Teenage Perverts (1983)". ftvdb.bfi.org.uk. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- "Reverend Richard Coles - JLA". www.jla.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- Richard Coles (6 March 1994). "Real Life: In the end, a certain grace: Richard Coles, a pop musician, decided that he could be a Christian, despite its 'untrendiness'. Then a friend's death tested his faith". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- "Church Times - More Petertide ordinations". www.churchtimes.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- "BBC - Lincolnshire - Faith - Christmas for Richard". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- "Richard Coles on the best musical motifs of all time". London: guardian.co.uk. 22 July 2008. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- Morgan, Christopher; Delmar-Morgan, Alex (20 August 2006). "Holy downshifters swell vicars’ ranks - Times Online". London: timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- Mirror news (28 Jun 2010). "More BBC vicar? Popstar Reverend Richard Coles inspires sitcom".
- Rev. Alan Gyle (11 January 2011). "Fr Richard to move to New Parish".
- Craig, Olga (3 April 2011). "Rev Richard Coles: from pop star to pulpit". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- Stanford, Peter (10 January 2010). "Revved up: Richard Coles, a very modern vicar - Profiles, People - The Independent". London: www.independent.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- "BBC Radio 4: Heresy". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-09-05.