Rev Richard Coles: who is he, when was he in The Communards, who was his partner - how to watch Good Grief doc

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A Channel 4 documentary follows the Reverend Richard Coles, a gay Church of England priest who lost his husband, David Coles, in 2019

Richard Coles is the focus of a new one-off Channel 4 documentary exploring the process of grief and different ways of overcoming the death of a loved one.

Coles was married to his husband for almost a decade, and dealt with prejudice from bigots in the general public and the church because he was involved in a gay marriage.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Reverend Richard ColesReverend Richard Coles
Reverend Richard Coles | James Beck for Channel 4

Coles first became famous for being one half of famous pop band The Communards, and will also be recognisable for his appearances on several TV panel shows.

Who is Reverend Richard Coles, what is he famous for, and who was his partner? Here is everything you need to know:

Who is Richard Coles?

Reverend Richard Coles, 60, is a Church of England priest, writer and radio presenter.

Before joining the priesthood, Coles was a multi-instrumentalist for the synth-pop band The Communards alongside Jimmy Sommerville.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The band is known for their covers of Don’t Leave Me This Way, and Never Can Say Goodbye.

Their songs Victims and For a Friend are tributes to those living with and having died from HIV and AIDS.

The Communards split in 1988, and from 1991-94, Coles studied Theology at King’s College, London.

Coles was ordained in 2005 and has been a priest ever since - from 2011-2022, he was the vicar of Finedon.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He has also worked as a radio presenter, hosting Nightwaves on BBC Radio 3 and on Newsnight Review on BBC Radio 2.

Richard Coles and Charlotte Hawkins on Strictly Come Dancing in 2017Richard Coles and Charlotte Hawkins on Strictly Come Dancing in 2017
Richard Coles and Charlotte Hawkins on Strictly Come Dancing in 2017 | Getty Images

Coles has also made several appearances on panel shows and celebrity competition programmes including Celebrity MasterChef, Strictly Come Dancing, Would I Lie To You? and QI.

Coles is a gay man and struggled with mental health issues after coming out, which led to him developing depression and attempting suicide.

He was in a celibate relationship with his partner David Coles, who he entered into a civil partnership with in 2010, until David’s death in 2019.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Who was Richard Coles’ partner?

Richard Coles began a relationship with David Oldham in 2007, and the pair lived together for more than a decade.

They had a civil partnership five years after the Church of England allowed them gay men - despite this, the pair remained celibate.

David was also a reverend and a former A & E charge nurse - he was married to Richard for nine years before his death in December 2019.

David had battled alcoholism throughout his life and he had alcoholic liver disease for years before the illness killed him.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Following David’s death, Richard said: “Alcohol caused my early widowhood.”

In the months after David’s death, Richard received hate mail telling him that his husband was in Hell because he was a gay man.

What is Good Grief about?

Good Grief follows Richard Coles as he discusses his experience with grief following the death of his partner.

Coles gets involved with unconventional activities which have been known to have helped others overcome his grief.

When is Good Grief on TV?

Good Grief with Reverend Richard Coles will air on Channel 4 on Monday 8 August at 10pm.

The documentary will be available to watch on All 4 shortly after it is first broadcast.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.