Reverend Richard Coles was devastated when his husband David died in 2019, aged just 43. Now in Channel 4’s documentary Good Grief? with Reverend Richard Coles, airing this August, the retired vicar, one-time Strictly Come Dancing contestant and former member of 1980s pop The Communards explores a range of ways of trying to cope with loss.
What To Watch caught up with Reverend Richard Coles to find out more about Good Grief?…
Reverend Richard Coles’ documentary Good Grief? —release date
Good Grief? with Reverend Richard Coles will air on Channel 4 on Monday 8 August at 10pm and it will also be available on All4.
What is Good Grief? With Reverend Richard Coles about?
The one-off documentary sees Reverend Richard Coles travel around the UK and the Caribbean to discover various means in which he might be able to try to come to terms with his loss.
“You’d think, as a vicar, I’d know about bereavement, and I do, but as an observer. When it happened to me, I wasn't equipped for dealing with it,” says Richard. “Then Channel 4 said, ‘How about seeing what there is out there for people who are bereaved?’ That led me on a journey, which began in Northamptonshire, and took me to the island of Roatán off Honduras and I met interesting people all trying to help those like me, who had lost the love of our lives.”
What activities does Reverend Richard Coles sample?
Richard has a go at several practical ways of trying to tackle grief, including boxing, surfing and indoor skydiving.
“The one I liked most was boxing. I’d like to continue with that, I loved it. Anyone who knows me would be surprised because the nearest I got to physicality before was doing the worst paso doble in Strictly history!,” smiles Richard. “But boxing allowed me to give expression to my anger. Vicars aren’t allowed to be angry. But I was angry because David's death was an outrage, so I enjoyed the physicality of punching. And I did indoor skydiving with a former paratrooper who’d lost limbs in the blast from an IED. We had a great time suspended in this giant hair dryer!”
He also tries his hand at animal therapy with alpacas and sheep and he even attends a laughter yoga session.
"The sheep looked like 1970s rock stars! But animals are good company when you are grieving, partly because they don’t expect a conversation,” explains Richard, who has appeared on a host of TV shows including QI, The Big Painting Challenge, Celebrity MasterChef as well as Holby City.
“The laughter yoga I couldn't really do. I didn't want to fake emotions. But by making yourself laugh, you stimulate a physical reaction that produces a benefit and it maybe just jumps you off the rails of introspection. It’s about what works for you.”
Who does he meet during the documentary?
The documentary sees him share his experiences with other people who have lost loved ones as he goes on a widows’ retreat to the Isle of Bute in Scotland, attends a dinner party with a group of young people who have been bereaved and even goes on a grief cruise in the Caribbean.
“What I valued was other people who had been through it walking alongside me and sharing ‘widowcraft’ and solidarity,” shares Richard. “You're a selective group who have been visited by bereavement and comparing your experience of grief with somebody else's can give you powerful insights. It’s also a leveller. On Bute, there was a professor and a lady who worked in a supermarket but we were peers in this experience of grief.”
Is there a trailer?
Not as yet but we’ll add one here if it becomes available!
Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.
Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.
Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.
In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.
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