Craig Charles on The Gadget Show, the new Robot Wars and the world’s disappointing lack of jetpacks

The Red Dwarf and Coronation street star is taking over Channel 5’s premier tech show – and he thinks he’s just the main for the job

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As Robot Warsformer master of disaster and Red Dwarf’s genial “bum” Lister, actor/poet/comedian/presenter/author Craig Charles already had legions of fans even before he landed a role on Coronation Street as Lloyd Mullaney.

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Now, he’s back with a brand new job – hosting the revamp of Channel 5’s long-running tech series The Gadget Show – and we recently got the chance to catch up with him to find out exactly what he wants to see in the future, both in terms of gadgets and his own career.

Sadly, no poetry is included in the following exchanges.


So Craig, the big news – you’re hosting a new version of The Gadget Show!

They’ve gone crazy! They’ve gone mad! 

What made you decided to get involved?

I think it’s a great fit for me y’know. I’ve kind of done a lot of that cutting-edge stuff, like Red Dwarf was really Gadget-y, and Robot Wars…stuff like that. So it’s a really nice fit for me really. 

Any particular gadgets you’ve been looking forward to trying out?

See, I think Tomorrow’s World owes a great debt to society, because they convinced me by the year 2000 we’d all be flying round on jetpacks and hoverboards and stuff like that.

And I still haven’t seen a decent hoverboard. I’d love a hoverboard. Have you seen those ones that they have in the sea now?

No?

They have these jetpacks on your back and it fires, and you float – but you can only do it on the sea. It’s got a hosepipe but it sucks up seawater and blows seawater out, like a jetski does. But you can fly across the ocean on it. They’re really cool.

And with all this drone technology now, we can’t be that far away can we, of having our own little jetpacks? You don’t have to fly that far off the ground, you don’t have to hurt yourself.

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Gadget Show hosts Jon Bentley, Craig Charles, Georgie Barrat and Ortis Deley

As well as acting and presenting, you’re known for your poetry – will you be bringing any of that to the Gadget Show?

Nooo. I don’t think it calls for it really. They tried to get me to do some poetry on the promo yesterday, and I said “Look – let’s move on from that.” 

I’ve been writing these epic poems, and I’m coming to the Gadget Show to get away from all that poetry to be honest! I used to do those little rhyming couplets at the end of Robot Wars and stuff like that, but this is a completely different thing. 

Speaking of Robot Wars, did you manage to watch any of the new version?

I did, yeah!

Did you enjoy it? 

I’m not going to talk about it, alright? I’m not getting drawn on that one

Fair enough. You left Coronation Street to go back to Red Dwarf a couple of years ago – do you think you’d ever go back to Corrie? 

I kind of wanted to get into new adventures, because 10 years on a show is a long time. And it was one of those where you could actually spend your whole life there. They make it difficult to leave. Everyone’s so nice to work with, and it’s not that hard a gig. You can get very comfortable in it.

And yeah, you open your eyes and you realise “God, I’ve been here 10 years!” And it flew. So I just wanted to do new adventures, and I suppose the Gadget Show is part of that.

What about Red Dwarf – are there plans to do more?

Red Dwarf 12 comes out in September this year. It’s one of those ones that you do worry, because it’s got such a nice legacy Red Dwarf. You do worry that [by] revisiting it you could mess it up. But I sincerely believe Red Dwarf 11 is some of the best work we’ve ever done. Really funny. 

And Red Dwarf 12’s the same. So it’s quite nice to have rebooted that. We’ve got more, and we’re gonna do a tour as well. And we’ll do more series – now that they’ve got us all back together again, it’s silly to put it down.

The thing is, none of us have grown up. We haven’t got world-weary. And that’s kind of important in comedy. People say the secret of comedy is timing, but I don’t think it is. I think it’s energy. And there’s still a lot of energy there, which is good. 

You seem to have presented and worked lots of different types of series – are there any shows that you’d like to be involved with that you probably won’t get to? 

You know what? I was hoping to bump into Chris Evans when he had Top Gear. Because I have a driver you see, and he drives me to all these gigs and stuff. So I spend an awful lot of time on motorways, and I’ve got a pillow and a blanket; I put my head down in the back. 

It’s all about time management – I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I do unless I sleep while I travel, y’know? And um, I just wanted to do the top 10 best cars to sleep in, as a feature on Top Gear.

Chris works at Radio 2 with me, but I never bumped into him to give him the suggestion – and now he’s done.

You could always pitch it to the new guys.

Yeah, I’ll have to see if I can bump into Matt LeBlanc somewhere. “Hey Joey!!!” 

And finally, I was going to ask what gadget you’d like to see invented – but it’s probably a jetpack isn’t it?

Jetpack! Definitely. Jetpack! Everyone could have them. All that congestion would be over. All that diesel, sorted. We’d just be tootling along in our jet packs, with our survival suit on. Gotta wear a crash helmet! Health and safety first – and some elbow pads and knee pads. 

But we CAN’T be that far away from the jet pack. I’m pushing for it. Let’s start the campaign.

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The Gadget Show returns to Channel 5 at 7pm Friday 10th March