My First Home: Craig Kelly's 90s fame helped him get on the property ladder

Actor and voiceover artist Craig Kelly made his name in one of the biggest shows of the 1990s, Channel 4’s Queer As Folk, which helped catapult him onto London’s housing ladder.

Growing up near Blackpool, the 49-year-old’s first flat was in Muswell Hill where his brother Dean – who appeared in another smash hit Shameless – rented a room for £40 a week.

These days Craig, who lives in Kensal Rise with his wife, Camilla, and their two children, spends a lot of time in the airing cupboard, recording his new podcast Kelly’s Heroes, a weekly chat with celebrities including Phil Tufnell, John Simm, and Joe Calzaghe.

How were you able to buy your first house?

I’d just done Queer As Folk in 1999 and that gave me enough money to save a deposit. In 2000 I bought my first two-bed flat in Muswell Hill for £154,000.

I remember having a shortlist of flats as my brother was going to be a lodger, so he helped me buy it. I knew the one in Muswell Hill was the one I wanted, but the number of flat was 13.

I was quite superstitious at the time and had this whole debate about whether I should buy it. My brother came to look at it and said 13 is lucky for some. It ended up being wonderful, so it was lucky for me.

How long did you keep the flat?

For 13 years in total, so again lucky for some as I got a good price for it. I bought a house in 2007 with my then girlfriend, now my wife. We bought in Kensal Green, which we sold a year ago, and now live in Kensal Rise.

Do you ever get back to Muswell Hill then?

I did recently with my wife and kids and it was magical. It has a special place in my heart. It was before my brother did Shameless and he was skint.

He paid £40 a week and even when he started doing well he was still paying £40 [laughs]! But he’s made up for it since. It was a special time for us, as brothers, to share that fiat for those amazing three years.

Why buy in Muswell Hill?

It felt like a village. London is made up of villages, and that’s why it still has a community. Muswell Hill has its own vibe.

Did buying change your life?

I could have bought a flat earlier but I dreaded getting a mortgage. I thought that was for old people and too much for me. But it’s just like paying rent, except better and cheaper.

I felt like I’d arrived, I had a great job that had paid me well and I was sharing with my brother who’s my best mate as well. It was a dream.

The flat had a big staircase and I wanted a red carpet and white walls. The ceilings were high so I got a big mirror in the hallway. The kitchen was at the back and there was a big lounge at the top.

In the spring the view was beautiful. There was no outside space, which was the only downside, but it was brilliant.

We had lovely parties – luckily I had some great neighbours. They always said: ‘Don’t worry. I was an actor,’ and I would bring other actors home, so I think they liked that.

Muswell Hill was a bit of a celebrity haunt – did you have loads of A-list parties!?

There were a few celebs coming. Not Madonna but you know…

What did you learn from it?

That I should have bought sooner. It gave me a sense of investment. I’m not one for stocks and shares and pensions but the money from that flat is in my house now. I probably wouldn’t be able to afford it without it. Even if it’s a part-share, get on the ladder.

You record your podcast in an airing cupboard. How did that come about?

It’s a bit like a sauna sometimes because I’ve got mattresses and other insulation in there. Each interviewee on the show is like a fine bottle of wine, they are so different.

I would highly recommend making full use of your airing cupboard – not only is it good for a washing machine, you can make songs, albums and podcasts!

Craig’s podcast Kelly’s Heroes is out now, kellysheroes.buzzsprout.com

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