Craig Charles: UFOs definitely exist, they come in all shapes and sizes, but are they aliens?

Together with the space scientist Sarah Cruddas, the Red Dwarf star has been examining potential alien sightings in their new show ‘Craig Charles: UFO Conspiracies’. They speak to James Rampton

By James Rampton

January 10, 2022 7:00 am(Updated 7:01 am)

More people in this country believe in aliens than in God. Half of us think aliens are real, according to a YouGov survey published last summer, compared to 43 per cent who told the polling company in 2020 that they believe in a god or a higher spiritual power.

The rate among celebrities appears to be higher still. From John Lennon to Adele, many stars have spoken of their conviction that there is life beyond our solar system.

Thinking it is high likely, mathematically and scientifically, that other life must exist somewhere in the universe is not the same as believing stories about their spaceships visiting Earth, however. Around a fifth of us think that has happened – with Rolling Stones co-founder and guitarist, Keith Richards and singer Robbie Williams among them.

In 1968, Richards said he had been reliably informed that his house, Redlands in West Sussex (where, coincidence or not, he had been busted by police in a drugs raid the previous year) was a landing site for UFOs. “I’ve seen a few,” said the Rolling Stones guitarist. “I believe they exist.”

In 2008, singer Robbie Williams announced that he was intending to renounce pop stardom to become a full-time ufologist – and was accompanied by the author Jon Ronson to a convention in Nevada, where people explained their claims of being abducted by aliens.

Perhaps the two musicians will be among the viewers of a new Sky History TV series fronted by another celebrity believer. In Craig Charles: UFO Conspiracies, the Red Dwarf actor and BBC Radio 6Music DJ is joined by the space journalist Sarah Cruddas to present fresh evidence about some of the most perplexing, purported UFO encounters of recent times.

“It’s hard not to think, ‘Well, what is out there?’,” says Charles, a long-time UFO enthusiast. And for her part, Cruddas, who studied astrophysics at the University of Leicester, thinks we should stop thinking of ufologists as eccentrics.

“That stigma needs to go because we’re only just beginning to scratch the surface of what is out there,” she says.

“We need to take sightings seriously, particularly from credible witnesses, even if we can’t explain them. Now we’re starting to realise how much else is out there in the universe, the subject is becoming less of a joke.”

The pair examine the evidence behind notorious cases, including the US Defense Department’s leaked footage of unidentified aerial phenomena near US warships off the coast of California in 2004.

This was one of the incidents that led the Pentagon to admit last year that it has no explanation for many others seen by military pilots over the years. With all but one of 144 reports since 2004 remaining unexplained, the US government does not rule out the possibility that these were alien craft.

The TV show also looks at British examples, such as unexplained lights seen by military personnel near Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk in 1980, and a police officer’s account of a UFO over Todmorden in Yorkshire the same year.

“While we don’t ever get to the point of saying ‘extraterrestrials exist’ in this series, unexplained aerial phenomena definitely do exist,” Charles tells i.

“They come in all shapes and sizes: pyramid shaped, boomerang shaped, barrel shaped, dish shaped.

“Some of them can fly and some can swim underwater. They travel at eye-watering speeds of 3,000mph, stop on a pin and change direction. They take flight paths that humans would not be able to manage. Whether these are drones, robots or an advanced party from an alien nation, no one knows. But they do exist.”

The University of Auckland’s Professor Richard Easther, who specialises in the physics of the early universe, articulated a point last year that many find hard to answer. If extra-terrestrial beings had the technology to reach Earth and expended the vast energy to do so, “why would they come here and then fly around in circles like some kind of boy-racer aliens?”

While she treats the subject seriously, it’s clear that part of Cruddas’s role in the show is also to temper Charles’s innate enthusiasm from time to time.

At one point, she says: “The thing with something so extraordinary is that we’ve got to look at all the more logical explanations. I still think that this can be explained by science.”

In our interview, she admits: “No, I wouldn’t say we’ve discovered aliens. But what I would say is that we have found stuff that we can’t explain… I think one day the explanation will be aliens. It would be depressing if the answer were not aliens because that would mean we’re all alone. It would mean as well that we’re the most intelligent thing in the universe, which is terrifying! The universe is also too beautiful for it just to be for us.”

It is far more than a natural human aversion to isolation that gives her this faith, however. “We know there are loads of candidates for perhaps simple life within our own very average solar system, on places such as Enceladus, Europa, Mars, even the vents of Venus,” says Cruddas.

“I think it’s fair to say within the next couple of decades, we will answer the question: are we alone or not? In terms of microbial life elsewhere within our solar system, it’s a case of when, not if.”

As for the chances of finding intelligent life, Charles admits there will always be UFO sceptics. “You could stick an alien on the six o’clock news, and people who don’t believe would think: ‘That’s just a guy in a suit’,” he says. But he wants people to see that “there’s nothing wrong with questioning”.

“If you are interested in UFOs, you don’t have to feel like a crank anymore!”

Craig Charles: UFO Conspiracies begins on Sky History on Tuesday 11 January at 9pm

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