Rev Richard Coles and heartbreak

Former Strictly star Rev Richard Coles – who is on Celebrity Bake Off tonight (Sunday, April 14) – has faced a lot of heartbreak in recent years.

From losing his husband to suffering a devastating family death, here’s an inside look at the 62-year-old’s difficult few years…

Rev Richard Coles smiling
Richard’s husband died in 2019 (Credit:

Rev Richard Coles – death of his husband

Back in 2019, Richard was left devastated when his husband, David, suddenly passed away.

Richard and David – a fellow priest – entered a civil partnership back in 2010. They had been dating since 2007.

They lived together in the village of Finedon, Northamptonshire, and both served as Church of England vicars.

However, David struggled with alcoholism, which eventually led to his death in 2019.

“Anyone who has loved an addict and lived with an addict will know how tough it is,” he told BBC Radio Northampton in 2021.

He then said that he believed David was “probably” already an alcoholic when they met in 2007. He said that David “always had an enthusiastic fondness for alcohol”.

“An enthusiastic fondness for alcohol when you’re 20 or 25 is one thing, when you’re 35 or 40 it’s another thing and his drinking just got out of control,” he then said.

Richard Coles on GMB
Richard wrote a book after losing his husband (Credit: ITV)

Rev Richard Coles on his late husband’s alcoholism

Richard then went on to say that his husband used alcohol as an “anesthetic” when life was difficult. However, the situation worsened as time passed.

“People used to talk about the ‘demon drink’ which sounds like a rather melodramatic way to describe it, but it is like someone is seized by a demon and when David was at his worst he was really difficult and it was very tough,” Richard said.

He then said that David was “deeply ashamed” of his alcoholism.

However, when David died, Richard joined Alcoholics Anonymous. “I just sat with people who were going through the same thing I was going through and that made a huge difference,” he said.

Richard Coles speaking in an interview
Richard wrote to cope with the grief (Credit: Channel 4)

Richard turned to writing following David’s death

In an interview with The Guardian 2021, Richard revealed that while David was dying, he was still posing for selfies with fans in the hospital. He confessed that he was “all over the place” at the time.

As soon as David died, Richard began writing to cope. His writing eventually became his book, The Madness of Grief.

“Writing out of the chaos, a little like a war correspondent – that’s how I felt, like I was standing on a street corner and there were bombs going off and I was writing down what was happening. It was a way of trying to endure it. Because something like this is almost unendurable. And you do what you have to do,” he said.

Elsewhere in the interview, he confessed he wished he’d spent more time with David.

Richard Coles and David smiling in a selfie while out for a walk
Richard and David first began their romance in 2007 (Credit: Channel 4)

‘I wish I’d spent more time with David’

“I realised, suddenly, that in trying to fill my life with as much incident and interest as I could I had neglected important things of home and hearth. I wish I’d spent more time with David. I wish I’d prioritised doing nothing with David more. Not seeing that as a holiday from things, but as the centre of thing,” he said.

He also opened up about dealing with David’s addiction.

“When David was at his worst it was so gruelling, so difficult for me as his husband, I felt like I was falling through space sometimes. And what I discovered, once he died, was how much I wanted to express what it had been like for me,” he said.

Richard also confessed that he sits by David’s grave and speaks to him.

Rev Richard Coles on death of his mother

Earlier this year, Richard was dealt another devastating blow when his mum died.

He took to Twitter to announce the news in February. He shared a snap of his mum on her wedding day.

“Mum died last night. Here she is on her wedding day, laughing,” he wrote.

“No mummy’s boy (hello) could have wished for more. RIP,” he then added.

The former Strictly star was inundated with support from fans and followers. “Sorry to hear this Richard. May her memory be a blessing,” David Baddiel wrote.

“I’m so sorry for your loss Richard,” another follower said.


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Read more: Reverend Richard Coles explores grief in Channel 4 documentary

The Great Celebrity Bake Off airs tonight (Sunday, April 14) at 7.40pm on Channel 4. 

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