Craig Charles talks about heading the first black family on Coronation Street in its 50-year history.
The iconic cobbled road in Weatherfield has recently become home of the Mullaney family - the first black family in the soap's 50-year history.
Headed by Lloyd Mullaney, played by actor Craig Charles, he has been joined by an ex-flame Mandy Kamara (Pamela Nomvete) and an adult daughter he never knew existed, Jenna Kamara (Krissi Bohn). Making his debut on the show in 2005, Charles, who is the longest serving black character on the show said that it was shocking that Coronation Street had never before had a black family in its five decades on television.
"I have enjoyed having a black family in Coronation Street," said the 48-year-old. "It is the first ever in its history and I am quite shocked at that fact. It's great to be involved with something that is quite iconic. It will always be the first black family, and after 50 years it's about time really."
Not necessarily a campaign you may associate with the Red Dwarf star, but bringing a black family to the soap was something that Charles wanted and took steps to make happen.
"I actually suggested (bringing a black family to Coronation Street) to the script writers, I said, 'look, there's never been a black family, you've got me as a character, why not build one around me?' We were trying to get it together for the 50th year anniversary but I had to film Red Dwarf so I took a lot of time off."
Looking to some of the other nation's hit soap operas which have had black families for years, Charles admitted that he could not understand what took ITV so long.
"Any street like Coronation Street, in Manchester will have a lot more than one black family on it. If you're gonna do a show which is reflective of the community to do that you have to include everyone and Manchester is such a multicultural society. It's who we are as a nation."
He added: "We've come so far from the days when I was first on television and I'm quite chuffed it's happened on Coronation Street, because Eastenders has had black families for years and Manchester's not different from London."
In true 'Corrie' style, the actor said that his family will have some explosive story lines in the future, but he stopped short of spilling the beans on any up-coming plots.
"I'm working really hard on Coronation Street at the moment, I have a daughter and an ex Mrs. and it's all set to kick of, there's gonna be a lot of crazy things happening to test Lloyd."
As if the plot drama wasn't stressful enough, Charles is juggling his full time job on the street, with his radio show on the BBC and releasing a new compilation album Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club. How is he able to do all of this - by suffering from a significant lack of sleep.
"I feel a bit jaded sometimes to be honest, but I've got a great driver and I'm quite good at sleeping in cars. It does take it out of you, especially when your old like I am, but I enjoy it all I don't see it as work."
In fact, the deejaying business is more like a second career for the Robot Wars presenter, who believes that his love of music started with his father.
"Black music is all that has ever influenced me really. When my dad came to England in the late 60's with a pocket full of change and a bag full of records. I grew up listening to Nat King Cole, Otis Reading and Al Green, those are my earliest memories so its always god to look at how black music got me started. I did this album to capture the feel good vibes and I'm really pleased with it."