Episode 2 Craig Charles

First shown Monday 5th September 2016 8pm ITV1
Also shown Wednesday 15th March 2017 4.30pm ITV1

Craig at his home in Cheshire - a converted former mill

Famous faces revisit their former homes to share memories and secrets from when they lived there. Actor and broadcaster Craig Charles returns to his childhood home in Liverpool to reveal how his TV career began and shows off his collection of memorabilia at his Cheshire home.

Craig Charles was born in Liverpool in 1964. Four years later his family – a white Irish mother and black Ghanaian father, brothers Jimmy and Dean moved in to a house on the brand new Cantril Farm Estate.

Craig revisits his childhood home on Liverpool's Cantril Farm Estate 
(today renamed Stockbridge Village)

Craig begins his journey back through his property ladder by returning to this childhood home. The vast council housing estate on the outskirts of Liverpool was designed to offer a better way of life to 15,000 people relocated from the decaying Victorian terraced housing in the city centre – houses with no inside toilets or bathrooms.

Craig remembers for the residents their dream homes quickly turned into a nightmare. Unemployment soared as factories closed and the docks laid off workers. The estate was heavily vandalised, Craig describes ‘graffiti everywhere’ and says he was in ‘fights every day of my life, defending myself, defending my mum’. As one of the few mixed race families on the estate life was tough in 1960’s Liverpool. By 1975 Craig’s mum decided enough was enough and moved the family back to the city where by now the council had renovated the old Victorian houses.

The Liverpool house Craig's family moved to when he was 11

Craig’s next stop on his journey is to revisit this Liverpool home – which he remembers his parents managed to buy when his long-distance lorry driver dad won £1800 on the horses. He describes how they had a ‘slot TV’ that you had to feed with 10p coins to keep it playing. While he lived here one of his teachers submitted a poem Craig had written into a national poetry competition run by the Guardian newspaper. The poem won. It was a transformational moment in his life. By the time he was 15 Craig was regularly performing on stage with the famous Liverpool beat poets Roger McGough and Brian Patten.

The first flat Craig bought in Camden, London

Craig left Liverpool to find national fame – and his next visit is to a flat in Camden – the first property he ever bought. As he remembers he ‘did what Thatcher wanted and got on the property ladder’. The flat cost £41,000 ‘which was quite a bit of money in them days’. Craig had married actress Cathy Tyson when he was just 19, and she was 18. They came to London together when she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford and the play transferred to The Barbican. By the time they bought this flat both their careers were taking off. Craig was a regular on TV and radio – appearing on Channel 4’s ground breaking Saturday Live and then Red Dwarf. Cathy won a starring role in the movie Mona Lisa alongside Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins.

After Craig and Cathy had their son Jack, they separated and then divorced. Craig bought a house in Vauxhall that he renovated with the help of local craftsmen, using recycled materials. He’s excited to revisit this property ‘I hope it hasn’t changed too much’. He isn’t disappointed the unusual period property retains many of the features he installed – a kitchen with industrial wire mesh doors, stained glass windows and reclaimed wooden floors and work tops. While he lived here he secured the role as host of BBC Two’s smash hit series Robot Wars – making him a national name. Craig also met Jackie, a journalist on the Irish Independent, who would later become his wife. He describes how she moved into this house with him just three weeks after they met. In time they had a daughter Ajay and later decided that Vauxhall was no place to raise a young child. Craig reluctantly sold the house and moved to the country but says now ‘I wish I’d kept it’.

The house Craig owned in Southampton

Craig’s next visit is to the house he owned just outside Southampton, a former railwayman’s house built in 1762 with beautiful wood panelling throughout. Craig and Jackie moved here in 2004 with their daughters Ajay and Nellie to be near Jackie’s sister. Craig remembers that he ‘spent a fortune’ on the house, carrying out renovations and adding a conservatory. Craig had a grand piano here and a music room. It was while he lived here he got the biggest call of his career from Tony Wood, producer of Coronation Street. The role Craig landed - Lloyd Mullaney – kept him on screen for 10 years from 2005 – 2015.

It was his success in Coronation Street, and the travelling he was doing as a club DJ and BBC Radio presenter that led to Craig’s move to his current home in Cheshire in 2012. The weekly commute from Southampton to Manchester became too much. Today Craig and his family live in a converted former mill. Craig has his own ‘man cave’ filled with memorabilia, a pool table, and of course his records and decks. He’s writing poetry again and likes to sit in the garden, listening to the birds and ‘think mum – look at me’.

 Craig at home today in Cheshire

Celebrity Home Secrets - A So Television Sunnyside Productions co-production
Executive Producers - Graham Stuart, Andrea Miller, Jerry Foulkes
Directed and filmed by - Rebekah Levine