West Brom-supporting Catholics Adrian Chiles and Frank Skinner
If anybody understands the highs and lows of movie star, the dangers and the temptations, it’s Adrian Chiles. As soon as the golden boy of the daytime TV couch, poached from The One Present to host ITV’s breakfast present on a megabucks wage, inside a yr he was sacked, divorced and scuffling with a drink drawback. “It was a rollercoaster,” recollects Chiles, 53, with disarming frankness. “At first I could not put a foot improper, after which I could not put a foot proper.”
Having turned to God in 2007, and with little to occupy his time and the telephone not ringing with job gives, Chiles fell again on his religion.
He launched into a mission to attend Mass in a distinct church day-after-day in the course of the 46 days of Lent.
“It was only for one thing to do as a result of I did not have anything,” he recollects with a rueful half-chuckle.
“That turned actually vital, as a result of it led to fascinating issues taking place – like desirous about religion and speaking to folks about religion.”
Chiles within the stand with requisite pie
Out of that got here the non secular programme My Mediterranean for the BBC.
He adopted it up with a confessional documentary about his middle-age alcohol consumption, Drinkers Like Me.
However now he’s returning to issues religious.
On Pilgrimage, BBC Two’s annual Easter sequence beginning Friday, Chiles is one in all seven celebrities embarking on an epic stroll with a spiritual theme.
He will probably be lacing up his mountaineering boots for a 15-day jaunt alongside a portion of the two,200 Sultan’s Path, from Belgrade to Istanbul.
These becoming a member of him are comic Dom Joly, an atheist, Olympian Fatima Whitbread, a Christian, and ex-MP Edwina Currie, a non-practising Jew.
Additionally on the trek are Father Ted star Pauline McLynn, blind TV presenter Amar Latif and Asian Community broadcaster Mim Shaikh.
Alongside the route, the celebrities make pit stops at locations of worship and venues at which atrocities have been carried out within the identify of faith, together with the Second World Warfare Crveni Krst focus camp in Serbia.
It makes for compelling viewing.
And the highs and lows of the journey, in some methods, replicate Chiles’s personal path in recent times.
After three profitable years as launch host of BBC One’s The One Present, Chiles and his co-star Christine Lampard had been lured to ITV to current its new breakfast present Dawn in 2010, on a reported shared £10million deal.
The present flopped and a yr later they had been sacked; then in January 2015 Chiles misplaced his job as ITV’s important soccer host.
He was additionally scuffling with the fallout of divorce from Lady’s Hour host Jane Garvey.
Chiles at his beloved Hawthorns
Throughout his time within the TV wilderness, he swapped the atheism he’d grown up with since childhood for Catholicism, Mass and rosaries, a lot to his household’s bemusement.
“I wasn’t getting any tv work and continually folks on the street can be saying, ‘What occurred? You are not on telly any extra’. While you’re requested that 20 instances a day, it will get to you a bit,” he admits.
For Chiles, the path to religion was much less an in a single day conversion than the reply to an inside name that had gnawed at him for years.
In school he’d been gripped by RE courses and requested plenty of “daft” (his phrase) questions on numerous faiths.
“Then in school I had a Catholic good friend and he was similar to me – he appreciated beer and soccer, however he additionally went to Mass, and that was intriguing,” he explains.
The lure of religion grew stronger as Chiles turned extra profitable.
He hosted The Apprentice: You are Fired from 2006 to 2009 and was one in all BBC Sports activities’ important anchors.
“Once I began doing nicely in my profession, I bear in mind pondering, ‘Who do I thank for this, for my good luck?'” he says.
Chiles with former co-star Christine Lampard (née Bleakley)
“I all the time felt an urge, when issues had been going so nicely, to thank God, however when issues went improper, I did not blame God. I believed, it isn’t his fault – both I buggered this up or another person has. It is only a feeling there’s one other dimension, that there is one thing else. It is a very wishy-washy type of religion. I could not justify it; I could not draw you equations to show it is true. I’ve simply acquired a sense somebody’s there.
“I get that feeling actually strongly once I’m in a church or to some extent anywhere of worship: a synagogue, mosque or wherever.
“My theology, similar to it’s, is a large number. Religion simply offers me some extent of consolation.”
Chiles signed up for Pilgrimage as a result of “I am a fan of strolling and speaking about religion”, even when the Sultan’s Path retraces a path utilized by the Ottomans in blood-thirsty bids to beat Europe.
It was solely just lately rebranded a path of peace.
“The route did not actually mark the great features of religion; it marked a route of conquest and pillaging and homicide, so it wasn’t significantly affirming from that viewpoint.
“Nevertheless it confirmed to me that you possibly can have a look at faith inflicting wars and realise it is a misapplication of faith. It is faith getting used to divide folks for political functions.”
Even in these attempting instances, Chiles’s perception within the Almighty stays agency.
“Faith’s like hearth,” he says. “You’ll be able to burn in it or use it to maintain your self heat. Identical with water – you’ll be able to drown in it or use it to maintain life. Many wars and persecutions are transparently nothing to do with faith. The most important killers of the 20th century had been all atheists: Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot.”
Chiles appears to hold round guilt and faith helps him with that.
“I simply really feel responsible about completely something,” he confesses. “Was I a bit impolite to that girl who stated whats up within the grocery store?’ I believe I’ve let myself down sometimes.
“You are continually asking your self looking questions. Sitting in a church is an effective place to assume issues by way of: the place does my energy lie now, what can I do going ahead, how can I be higher and keep away from making the identical errors?”
Chiles with former England supervisor Roy Hodgson
His daughters with Jane Garvey, Evelyn, 20, and Sian, 17, aren’t that fascinated about his religion, he admits.
“I all the time needed them to come back to the soccer with me and to come back to church with me they usually by no means actually needed to do both. They understand how I really feel about it, however I am not the slightest massive judgmental. They will discover their very own approach.”
Regardless of his household’s antipathy, Chiles has a kindred spirit in his shut good friend Frank Skinner, additionally a practising Catholic, and he has discovered succour from these within the highest echelons of his church.
“As soon as I met Cardinal [Vincent] Nichols earlier than he turned a cardinal and I stated, ‘I ponder if you realize I’m a Catholic,’ and he stated, ‘I do know.’
“I stated, ‘And once I turned a Catholic, I acquired divorced,’ and he stated, ‘I do know.’
“And I stated, ‘Generally I simply do not feel worthy’ and he stated, ‘Do not be ridiculous. None of us are worthy – we’re all simply attempting to muddle by way of.’
He was simply so kindly and understanding.”
And a life with religion has been an enchancment, he says. “I believe usually I have been a bit happier,” muses Chiles.
“It is like being dedicated to a soccer membership with out all of the horrible disappointments. It is rather a lot simpler than supporting West Brom.”
• BBC Two’s three-part sequence Pilgrimage begins on Friday at 9pm