Watch 'From Popstar to Priest’ by Reverend Richard Coles on-demand via the Clive Conway Productions live player

Jan 31, 2023
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Reverend Richard Coles

As part of Clive Conway Productions’ collection of Curtain Up! shows, join Richard Coles as he tells a story that is as real as it is unlikely. 

During the talk, he will connect the euphoria and mayhem of being Top of the Pops in the 80s to his present circumstances as a Church of England priest, radio broadcaster, and television show panelist, answering amongst many burning questions, “How do you go from pop star to priest? And why?”

Until his retirement from clerical duties in 2022, the Reverend Richard Coles was a Church of England priest in the quintessentially English village of Finedon, Northamptonshire, where two of his ancestors were Vicars in the seventeenth century. He was parish priest of St. Mary The Virgin between 2011-2022.

However, in complete contrast, more than a quarter of a century ago Richard was the instrumentalist half of pop band The Communards, together with Jimmy Somerville. During the 1980s The Communards had three UK Top 10 hits, including Never Can Say Goodbye and the biggest-selling single of 1986, Don’t Leave Me This Way.

Born in March 1962, the young Richard Coles grew up in Northamptonshire and attended Wellingborough public school where he was a chorister and, to his horror, realised he was gay. In his late teens – partly due to being homosexual in an extremely hostile time during the Seventies, where life seemed to offer only disgrace – Richard took a drug overdose and ended up in a psychiatric hospital.

He subsequently moved to London to work as a session musician in theatre. In 1983, Richard joined pop group Bronski Beat as a sax player where he met Jimmy Somerville. The following year, Jimmy and Richard left to form The Communards.

Success came fast and they had the UK’s biggest-selling single of 1986, but Richard was ill at ease with the sudden fame. He was the gawky, bespectacled, musically trained geek who physically towered over the extrovert Somerville, but was otherwise lost in his friend’s shadow...

Watch the only vicar in Britain to have a No.1 hit as part of the 80's pop sensation The Communards, on-demand by purchasing your ticket at