In January 1982, RTÉ set designer Charles Self was at the top of his game.
Born in England and raised in Scotland, the 32-year-old had relocated to Ireland four years earlier to work on some of the country’s best-known television shows.
Remembered as a man of charm, wit and style, Charles was a well-known figure in Dublin’s gay community at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in Ireland.
On January 20th, he was in top form as he went out celebrating in a city that was just emerging from a bitterly cold snap that later became known as ‘The Big Snow.’
The following morning, he was found dead at the foot of the stairs in his Monkstown home. He had been stabbed 14 times, his throat had been slashed and a piece of torn ligature was found wrapped around his neck.
40 years later, no one has ever been charged with his murder.
In the second season of Inside the Crime, Frank Greaney examines the crime, the investigation and the impact the murder had on Irish society.
In Episode One, Frank speaks to some of those who knew Charles best to find out more about the man he was – and the lives he touched before his horrific demise.
Throughout the series, Newstalk.com will be bringing you Deeper Inside The Crime with everything from pictures and video to timelines, crime scene graphics and in-depth articles – you can find it all here.
Who was Charles Self?
Described by friends as a fun-loving character with a wicked sense of humour, Charles was known for his generosity and his love of life.
Never one for a night in at home, Charles was well-embedded in Dublin’s social scene and knew many people in the entertainment industry through his work with RTÉ.
An avid traveller and lover of art, music and literature, Charles was passionate about his work and the life it allowed him to lead.
Christine Falls, a close friend who was due to move into Charles’ home the week he was murdered, told Frank she “just took to him” the first time they met.
“He had a lovely face,” she said. “He had a lovely smile.”
“He was very bubbly. He was very, very sociable and friendly. He was generous and lively and gossipy and always impeccably groomed as well.
"He was very out there, sometimes, too in his choices - especially of jackets, you know, he would wear bright vivid colours.
“He was just … he was fun. He was fun.”
She said Charles had a lightning-quick tongue and was never afraid to say what he thought.
“He had, I mean, one-liners,” she said. “If Charles didn’t like something or didn’t like something someone said, there would be an instant rejoinder and it could be withering – but usually very, very accurate.
“He really didn’t give a damn about holding his opinion if you like, but he was very straight. It meant you knew where you stood with him at any given time.”
Christine said Charles never bragged about his work – but at the same time, “he was a very confident man in terms of what he did and his talent.”
Alan Farquharson, a colleague and friend who shared an office with Charles at RTÉ, said he had an amazing sense of colour and special awareness – and was known around Montrose as one of the best in the business.
“He was something of a party animal,” said Alan Farquharson, a colleague and friend who shared an office with Charles at RTÉ. “I suppose most of us were.”
“I mean the whole of RTÉ, but particularly the design department I think, was very gregarious and we all, for the most part, partied together quite a lot.”
He said Charles was never a man to miss a deadline, even if he was capable of leaving things to the last minute.
“I do remember his speed as well,” he said. “He was charged with designing the Late Late Show, which is a fairly big job and obviously, one of the more prestigious within the organisation at the time.
“I was in on a Saturday; I can’t remember why ... and Charles had a deadline of Monday to design the Late Late Show set.
“I think he had been partying pretty much all week, if not for the previous two weeks or something. I remember he came in and designed the set in a day – what would take probably two weeks at least, kind of with the drawing board and talking things through.”
In this week’s episode of Inside the Crime, Frank also speaks to Charles’ good friend Bill Maher, who was one of the last people to see Charles alive and to Newstalk’s own Pat Kenny about working with Charles during his days in RTÉ.
Over the coming weeks, the series will delve deeper into the investigation, examining the crime scene, the evidence and the controversial Garda investigation that followed - sparking public protests in Dublin.