Langham charged with making indecent images of children

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It should have been the high point of Chris Langham's career when he won a Bafta on Sunday night for his performance as the world- weary MP Hugh Abbot in the hit sitcom The Thick of It. But yesterday the comic actor said he was "devastated" after being charged with 15 counts of making indecent images of children.

Mr Langham, 57, was charged after answering bail at a police station on Wednesday night. The married star from Cranbrook in Kent is due to appear at Sevenoaks magistrates' court on 17 May, Kent Police said.

In a statement issued through his solicitors Kingsley Napley, Mr Langham said: "I am devastated to have been charged with offences arising from a police investigation.

He added: "I am anxious to clear my name and although there is a great deal I would like to say, I am unable to do so as a result of the legal proceedings. I request once again that the privacy of my family is respected and thank the media for their restraint in this regard so far. I will not be making any further comment."

At last weekend's television Baftas, Mr Langham beat his co-star in The Thick of It, Peter Capaldi, to win the award for best comedy performance. The political satire, which started life on BBC4 before moving to BBC2, was also crowned best sitcom.

Help, the BBC2 series that Mr Langham has co-written and starred in with Paul Whitehouse, was named best comedy programme. Mr Langham was named best television comedy actor at the British Comedy Awards in December 2005. The Bafta accolades followed, where, accepting his award, Mr Langham paid tribute to his second wife, the musical director Christine Cartwright.

"If it wasn't for the fact that she hates having attention drawn to her, I would like to thank my wife for being the most loyal, constant and honourable friend a person could have," he said.

Although he has been a figure on the British satire scene for more than 30 years, it is in his role as the hapless minister for social affairs Hugh Abbot in Armando Iannucci's biting take on the contemporary political scene that Mr Langham has achieved fame.

After picking up his award at the Bafta ceremony at London's Grosvenor House hotel, Mr Langham appeared relaxed and smiling. He joked that shortly after his character in The Thick of It had been advised it would be a good career move to resign, David Blunkett quit ministerial office only to be reinstated.

A third series of The Thick of It and a second series of Help are in early script stages, but a BBC spokeswoman said that it would be "entirely inappropriate for us to discuss future projects" involving Mr Langham.

The son of a theatre director, Michael Langham, and the actress Helen Burns, he dropped out of Bristol University and began writing sketches for Spike Milligan and The Muppet Show in the 1970s.

He was in the original line-up of the BBC comedy Not The Nine O' Clock News, but was bitterly disappointed when he was dropped after just one series in favour of Griff Rhys Jones.

Mr Langham has spoken frankly about his addiction to alcohol, admitting that it led to the break-up of his first marriage.

"My career was being a drunk, and work was something I did if I had a spare five minutes," he has said.

"I was self-destructive. It wasn't just the drinking, it was the mindset: you don't like yourself if you are an alcoholic and other people don't like you either, because your behaviour is appalling. You are dishonest, disloyal, full of self-pity."

The therapy sessions he attended to overcome his addiction to alcohol were the inspiration for Help, in which he plays a psychiatrist with a bizarre collection of clients all played by Paul Whitehouse.