TV vicar Richard Coles reveals shock at ‘hell raiser’ late partner’s obscene joke about senior cleric

Celebrity vicar Richard Coles has spoken of his “terror” at the “Jekyll and Hyde” drunken rages of his late partner.

Mr Coles, 60, said he had contemplated ending his relationship with David because of his abuse.

And he revealed his shock and embarrassment at the way David, who died in 2019, insulted a Church of England bishop.

They were forced to leave a dinner party after his “hell raiser” partner made an obscene joke about the former Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Rev Cundy.

“David said: ‘Ian Cundy, I think the ‘t’ is silent’ – I had to take him home.”

Mr Coles, who was in 1980s pop group The Communards and appeared on Strictly Come Dancing said: “When David was at his worst it was really bad.

“He could misbehave so badly but part of me wanted to applaud,” he told Sir Craig Oliver, David Cameron’s No 10 head of communications, for his podcast, Desperately Seeking Wisdom.

“We were at a dinner for the great and the good in the Tory heartlands. David came and was drunk. I had to kick him under the table.”

But it did not stop him from making his outrageous remark about the bishop.

“I sort of admired the punk rock thing in him. But it was also excruciating. In the end, the self-destructiveness got the upper hand and he drank himself to death. I couldn’t stop him.

“He was a bit of a hellraiser and was magnificent when he did that – although it was terrifying at the same time.”

The Rt Rev Cundy, who was not at the dinner party, died in 2009.

Mr Coles said that when a female friend told him he should not put up with David’s abusive behaviour and he should leave him “I knew she was right” – but he knew he would not do so.

Mr Coles said David, who died aged 42, once told a psychiatrist himself he was “frightened his drunkenness would make me leave him”.

“The shrink burst out laughing and said ‘if he was going to leave you he would have gone by now’. He drank himself to death and I couldn’t stop him.”

The couple lived together with their dogs Daisy, Pongo, Audrey and Horatio in the vicarage of St Mary’s in Finedon, Northamptonshire.

They met when David asked Richard for advice on joining the clergy and were married in a civil partnership in 2010.

Mr Coles retired as a parish vicar last year saying he opposed the way the Church of England ‘excludes gay couples.

You can listen to Sir Craig Oliver’s podcast, Desperately Seeking Wisdom, from Monday.

Rev Richard Coles with Strictly professional Dianne Buswell (Guy Levy/PA)

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