He played one of Coronation Street’s most controversial characters in the early 2000s, but actor Charles Dale’s life is much more normal now. The 59-year-old played Dennis Stringer from 2000 to 2002, a motorcyclist and friend of Les Battersby who was infamous for cheating on his partner with his friend’s wife – and eventually left partner Eileen Grimshaw for the wife of Les Battersby, Janice. Charles’ character Dennis then attempted suicide on New Year’s Day, only to survive his attempt, but he tragically died a short time later in a car accident.
After leaving the soap opera with Dennis’ death in 2002, Charles went on to play Big Mac on Casualty from 2007 to 2016 and later turned to theater work, playing Hugo in the popular new musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Crucible Theater in Sheffield. in 2017.
But Charles has now taken a big step up from stage and screen and traded his acting life for two much more typical day jobs: retail assistant and town councillor, WalesOnline reported.
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Charles’ hometown of Tenby in South West Wales is renowned nationwide for its streets of bright, colorful houses overlooking a picturesque harbor and for its quaint independent shops and businesses. Charles runs Dale’s Music on Tenby’s High Street and can often be found perched behind the store’s counter chatting to regular customers and answering questions about his extensive vinyl collection. The shop was first opened in 1947 by Charles’ grandfather and has remained in the family ever since. It is now run by Charles, his sister Linzi and her husband Richard.
In addition to running the music store, Charles has recently embarked on a political career and was recently elected as a city councillor. Speaking about his new role, he said: “I look at things and sometimes I think ‘this needs to be fixed’. And I don’t know if I can, but I can definitely come in and say, can we fix this? How do we fix that? You know, just weird things, toilets, parking lot, you know, garbage. Those little things.
Growing up, Charles and his family lived in the basement of a tall, cramped building in Tenby and it was at home that he first caught the acting and stage bug. Reflecting on his upbringing in the Welsh town – a far cry from the bustling Coronation Street backdrops of Manchester – he said: “We actually had a baby tail in the back corner [of the house] where I used to do my piano practice, while people were peeking through the door, which obviously fell like a lead balloon and my mother used to say, ‘you and your father will you argue before or after supper?’ That’s why I became a guitarist. I wanted to work for Barry Llewellyn who ran the sports shop and played for Wales, that was way cooler!”
“Dad was always a performer, singer and did a lot of local drama and when mom was little she did a lot of radio,” he added. “She did accents and dialect and I just grew up sitting in the back of the rehearsal rooms at school or at the De Valence, wherever they put on a play. So I grew up with that, it was the most natural thing in the world.”
But growing up in Tenby wasn’t just about amateur theater and radio – it was also about spending time with friends. “You can’t use that word now without a terrible connotation! But, gangs, it was all about gangs,” Charles said. “We had a gang, there were about 10 of us, you know, and we would hang out and go everywhere together.
“We used to play rugby on Jubilee Gardens where you have a 45 degree slope. We had to play across and lose balls forever. go play rugby for school, come back and go to chippy, then all come up to my flat, watch football focus, then go play football for saundersfoot in the afternoon.
But acting was always a teenager’s dream – even though he was too young for drama school. “I got called up to various acting schools, but they all told me to come back when I was 18,” Charles said. “My dad came with me and waited in the pub and after my audition one of the board members [of LAMDA] [was there] and he recognized her. She told him ‘We think he’s really good, but he’s young’, said my dad ‘he’s going to explode, he’s been offered a place at Central, Guildhall, Bristol. So she come back and said, “Well, that boy will go to the other colleges if we don’t take him this year.” So LAMDA took me.
“However, all these other acting schools were right and I was way too young to go and I was spending my time getting drunk and the girls and I couldn’t concentrate and they almost kicked me out at the end of the first year. Which luckily my parents never knew!”
Luckily for Charles, a vocal coach saw potential in him and pushed him to challenge himself. Charles explained: “He [the vocal coach] went ‘look, he’s a kid, he fucked it up, let’s give him a smack and see if that makes a difference.’ And they did, and it did, and I ended up with the Alec Clunes Award, which was like the Gold Star, when I left!”
After drama school, Charles performed on stages around the world, including Broadway, and made several television appearances, including Coronation Street, Casualty and The Pembrokeshire Murders, while maintaining the record store with his sister Linzi.
“I try to do different things and I think that has hampered my career to some degree,” Charles added. “Because they like to put you in boxes and if you can find a niche and sit in it, it can do you a lot of good. But, I don’t act for any other reason I like doing it and what is the point of doing something you don’t like repeating the same thing over and over again Some actors out there who do the same performance every time and you just say “really? Try to be someone different, that’s work.”