Morecambe sparkles as TV star Craig Charles switches on Christmas lights

December 02, 2019

TV and radio personality Craig Charles helped Morecambe to truly sparkle as the town kicked off the festive season in style.

The star switched on the Christmas lights at the Festival Market then brought the house down with a soul and funk-packed DJ set at the Winter Gardens on Sunday.

The popular actor, comedian and radio presenter received a rapturous reception from an excited crowd on Sunday teatime as he appeared on the Beyond Radio main stage in the market car park.

Craig said: “It’s great to be in Morecambe! I’ve only ever been here in the summer before.

“We used to come quite a lot, on day trips when I was a lad.”

He also revealed that he was about to film a new series of Red Dwarf for 2020.

“We started off in 1988 and people seem to still love it so we’re still doing it…I never thought I’d still be doing it 32 years later,” said the star, who plays Dave Lister in the hit sci-fi comedy and also starred in Coronation Street as taxi driver Lloyd Mullaney.

Craig conducted the large crowd in a countdown to the switch-on.

Then as lights illuminated the area, a spectacular laser and fireworks show kicked in.

After posing for pictures and signing autographs, Craig moved on to the Winter Gardens to DJ at the Soul Train Christmas Party on Sunday evening.

Charles, who hosts his own BBC radio soul and funk programmes, brought energy to the stage in his own inimitable style.

His set had a sold-out crowd going wild as they danced to classic tunes in a real party atmosphere inside the historic Morecambe theatre.

Support came from local DJ legend Steve Middlesbrough and Jo Manji.

Sunday’s events were part of an entire weekend of ‘Morecambe Sparkle’ festivities organised and funded by Morecambe Business Improvement District (BID), sponsored by Jump Rush and produced in partnership with Beyond Radio and Morecambe Music Festival.

The weekend’s entertainment began on Friday night with live music in 12 town centre venues, organised by Morecambe Music Festival.

Then on Saturday night, The Platform hosted An Evening with Eden where guest speakers spoke about plans for the Eden Project North coming to Morecambe.

The expert panel who spoke to and took questions from a sold-out audience included Si Bellamy OBE, head of Eden Project International, local executive GP Dr Andy Knox, tourism lecturer Dr David Jarrett, Professor Dame Sue Black from Lancaster University, Professor Vanessa Toulmin from the Winter Gardens, and Wes Johnson, principal of Lancaster and Morecambe College. The event was hosted by Beyond Radio’s Greg Lambert.

A total of £3000 raised from the event was divided between Galloway's Society for the Blind, Morecambe Bay Foodbank and the Winter Gardens Preservation Trust.

Special Morecambe BID calendars featuring the BID's seagull mascot Gully were sold on the night to raise £490 for another local charity, Escape 2 Make. More calendars will be going on sale from local outlets later this week.

Prior to Sunday’s lights switch-on, the Beyond Radio stage was the setting for a full afternoon of live music – programmed by Stuart Michaels from Morecambe Music Festival.

Local performers Jason Stardust, Ashleigh Wood and Sold to the Sky were joined by top tribute acts Dean Betton as Robbie Williams, and LMX as Little Mix, in an exciting stage show hosted by Beyond Radio’s Greg Lambert and Phill Hayward.

The stage show went out live on Beyond Radio in a special programme hosted by Chris Brookbanks.

The guest appearance by Craig Charles, lights, lasers and fireworks eventually brought the event to a visually stunning conclusion.

Tom Powney, chairman of Morecambe BID, said: “My sincere thanks go out to all my BID colleagues and also to our partners without whom none of this would have been possible.

“Also thanks to all at city, town and county councils, Stuart Michaels and the publicans of Morecambe. The team at the Platform and all the inspirational speakers. The tech team who turned a car park into a full switch on concert stage with entertainment, lasers and fireworks. To Beyond Radio who did such a superb job in promoting, compering and publicising the events. To the Winter Gardens volunteers, security team and DJs who gave such soulful pleasure to a packed audience.

“But mostly to the people of Morecambe who came out and danced in the cold, who bought tickets, who partied til the early hours, who helped us raise £3500 for local charities. You all make Morecambe a special and wonderful place.”

Nathan Hill, commercial director at Beyond Radio, said: “We’re truly thrilled to be working alongside BID and its associates to showcase all that is great about Morecambe and its people. Well done to the BID team and members too.”