Ross Kemp

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Ross Kemp
Ross James Kemp

(1964-07-21) 21 July 1964 (age 58)
Barking, Essex, England
  • Actor
  • author
  • reporter
  • presenter
Years active1985–present
  • (m. 2002; div. 2009)
  • Renee O'Brien
    (m. 2012)

Ross James Kemp (born 21 July 1964) is an English actor, author, and television presenter. He rose to prominence in the role of Grant Mitchell in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. He is also known for his other roles as Graham Lodsworth in Emmerdale and Birds of a Feather as Detective Inspector Monk. Kemp has received international recognition as a reporter for presenting the BAFTA Award-winning documentary television series Ross Kemp on Gangs (2004–2009).

Early life[edit]

Kemp was born on 21 July 1964 in Barking, Essex.[1] His mother Jean was a hairdresser and his father John was a detective superintendent in the Metropolitan Police. His maternal great-grandfather was a sub-organist at Chichester Cathedral for many years. He has one brother, Darren, who is a filmmaker for the BBC. Kemp attended Shenfield High School and the Webber Douglas Academy.[2]

Acting career[edit]

Early career[edit]

After training at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, Kemp received his Equity card when appearing alongside John Thaw and Richard Wilson at the Palace Theatre, Westcliff-on-Sea.

Kemp went on to feature in training films for the Ministry of Defence and the ITV soap opera Emmerdale Farm (now Emmerdale) as Graham Lodsworth. Guest appearances in London's Burning and Birds of a Feather followed, before he had a minor role in the 1987 film Playing Away alongside Neil Morrissey.[3]

In 1990, Kemp appeared in an edition of the Anglia Television police drama The Chief. The episode, entitled Call Sign Bravo, saw Kemp play the role of Police Constable Dennis Scovell. Around the same time he also starred in a golf themed advert for Kellogg's Fruit & Fibre cereal.[4]


Kemp's best-known role is that of hardman Grant Mitchell in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. Making his debut in February 1990, his character quickly became part of the soap’s key storylines during the 1990s, particularly troubled marriages to Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) and then Tiffany Mitchell (Martine McCutcheon), as well as the "Sharongate" storyline, which saw brother Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) having an affair with Grant's wife, which was uncovered two years after it began.

Kemp announced on 24 March 1999 that he would be leaving the soap later that year after nearly 10 years. His exit was aired in October 1999 when his character moved to Brazil after surviving a car crash. Kemp refused to rule out an eventual return to EastEnders, and various media reports over the next few years speculated that he would return to the series at some stage. In early 2005, the BBC confirmed that Kemp would be returning to EastEnders in the autumn of that year after six years away. It was co-star Barbara Windsor who convinced him to return, even though his comeback would only be a relatively brief one.[5] His first comeback lasted just a few weeks from October 2005, but he returned again in March 2006, before departing once again in June that year.

In January 2016, it was confirmed that Kemp would make a brief return to the show for the death of Grant's on-screen mother, Peggy Mitchell (played by Windsor), appearing in three episodes during May of that year.[6] He later filmed a further three weeks and returned again for brief stints from 4 July to 9 September 2016.

Other roles[edit]

Following his initial departure from EastEnders, Kemp moved from the BBC to ITV for a reported £1.2 million two-year deal.[7] Kemp's first role for ITV was in Hero of the Hour. During its filming, on 27 October 1999, Kemp required hospital treatment after being shot in the face when a stunt went wrong. He suffered cuts to his chest and face after safety glass shattered, and was also hit in the face by the discharge from a blank round. He was treated at the scene by paramedics and made a full recovery.

In 2000, Kemp starred in ITV's A Christmas Carol. He took the lead roles in the television series Without Motive and In Defence in 2000, and in 2002's Ultimate Force, where he played Army Staff sergeant Henry Garvie from the British Special Air Service. He continued to appear in this role until 2006. He also played "Cirra" in the 2004 TV film, Spartacus.

In 2005, Kemp appeared in an episode of BBC's Extras and in a two-part adaptation of the Gerald Seymour novel A Line in the Sand for ITV. He has also presented on The Friday Night Project and appeared as a stand in host on The Paul O'Grady Show (2007, 2008).

Kemp appeared in the 4th episode of Series 14 of BBC's motoring show Top Gear. He was the "Man in Boot" of a Renault Twingo Sport being tested by Jeremy Clarkson. The test ended with Clarkson driving the car off the quayside of Belfast Harbour, after which Clarkson joked that Kemp had been killed.[8] Kemp also appeared in Series 1, where he did a 1 minute 54 seconds (wet) in the "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" segment.

Documentary presenter[edit]

In 2004, Kemp filmed Ross Kemp on Gangs.[9] He followed this up with the documentaries Ross Kemp in Afghanistan, Ross Kemp in Search of Pirates, Ross Kemp: Battle for the Amazon and Ross Kemp: Extreme World.


Kemp has written several books. Initially focusing on tie-ins to his various TV documentaries, 2011 saw the publication of his first fictional story, Devil to Pay. A novel, Moving Target, was released in summer 2012.


In 1999, Kemp was elected as Rector of the University of Glasgow as the candidate of the Glasgow University Labour Club[10] but did not attend local meetings.[11] In October 2000 the Glasgow University Students' Representative Council passed a motion requesting him to resign,[12] and within weeks he did.[13] Kemp was the first rector in 50 years to leave the position prematurely and was succeeded by Scottish actor Greg Hemphill.[11][14]

In August 2014, Kemp was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[15]

In June 2017, Kemp endorsed the Labour Party at the 2017 UK general election, and took part in campaigning for Labour candidates.[16][17][18]

In 2022, Kemp declared his support for a "National Thank You Day" to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II.[19]

Personal life[edit]

On 11 June 2002, Kemp married Rebekah Wade, the then editor of The Sun. In November 2005, Wade was arrested following an alleged assault on her husband.[20] Kemp refused medical attention for a swollen lip and no action was taken.[21] In March 2009 Kemp and Wade divorced,[22] and in October 2010, Kemp fathered a boy with his partner, Nicola Coleman, who was his makeup artist.[23]

Kemp married Australian Renee O'Brien in 2012.[24] They have three children.[25][26]


Year Group Award Won Film/television series
1996 National Television Awards Most Popular Actor Nominated EastEnders
1997 National Television Awards Most Popular Actor Nominated EastEnders
1999 British Soap Awards Best Actor Won EastEnders
British Soap Awards Villain of the Year Nominated
British Soap Awards Best Storyline (for Tiffany discovers Grants affair with her mum) Won
Inside Soap Awards Best Actor Won
Inside Soap Awards Villain of the Year Nominated
TV Quick and Choice Awards Best Soap Actor Won
National Television Awards Most Popular Actor Nominated
2006 British Soap Awards Best Actor Won EastEnders
British Soap Awards Best Storyline (for The Mitchells' Return) Nominated
British Soap Awards Spectacular Scene of the year (for Phil's Close Shave) Nominated
Inside Soap Awards Best Actor Nominated
Inside Soap Awards Sexiest Male Nominated
Inside Soap Awards Best Storyline (for The Mitchells' Return) Nominated
TV Quick and Choice Awards Best Soap Actor Nominated
TV Quick and Choice Awards Best Soap Storyline (for The Mitchells' Return) Nominated
National Television Awards Most Popular Actor Nominated
2006 BAFTA Awards Best Factual Series Won Ross Kemp on Gangs
2008 AIB Media Excellence Awards International TV Personality Won Ross Kemp in Afghanistan
2009 BAFTA Awards Best Factual Series Nominated Ross Kemp in Afghanistan
2009 BAFTA Awards Current Affairs Nominated Ross Kemp: A Kenya Special
2014 Asian Media Awards Best Investigation[27] Won Extreme World: India



Year Show Role Notes
1986–1987 Emmerdale Graham Lodsworth 32 episodes
1987 The Moneymen Dealer TV Movie
1988 London's Burning Liver Salts Episode: "Series 1, Episode 3"
1989 Birds of a Feather Detective Inspector Monk Episode: "Shift"
Screen Two Police Officer Episode: "The Picnic"
1990 The Chief PC Dennis Scovell Episodes: "Daydreamer" & "Call Sign Bravo"
The Manageress Defender Episode: "A Match for Anyone"
1990–1999, 2005–2006, 2016 EastEnders Grant Mitchell 1,090 episodes
1993 Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time Part Two
1998 EastEnders: The Mitchells – Naked Truths VHS special
City Central Dilly Dally Episode: "Nothing Like a Dame"
2000 Hero of the Hour Richie Liddle TV Movie
In Defence Sam Lucas 4 episodes
A Christmas Carol Eddie Scrooge TV Movie
2000–2001 Without Motive DC Jack Mowbray 12 episodes
2002–2006 Ultimate Force Staff Sgt. Henry 'Henno' Garvie 21 episodes
2003 The Crooked Man Harry Fielding TV Movie
2004 Spartacus Cinna TV Movie
A Line in the Sand Gavin Hughes / Frank Parry 2 episodes
2005 Extras Himself Episode: "Ross Kemp & Vinnie Jones"
2007 Robbie the Reindeer Trooper No. 2 Episode: "Close Encounters of the Herd Kind"
2009 10 Minute Tales Liam Episode: "The Running of the Deer"
Top Gear Man in Boot Episode: "Series 14, Episode 4"
2011 That Sunday Night Show Himself
2017 All Round to Mrs Brown's Himself
2022 The Bridge Of Lies Host BBC quiz show[28]


Year Show Channel Notes
1999 Ross Kemp: Alive in Alaska BBC One
2004–2009 Ross Kemp on Gangs Sky One Series 1—4; 20 episodes
2008–2012 Ross Kemp in Afghanistan Series 1—4; 18 episodes
2009 Ross Kemp in Search of Pirates 3 episodes
Ross Kemp: Behind the Story 3 episodes
2010 Ross Kemp: Battle for the Amazon 2 episodes
2011–2017 Ross Kemp: Extreme World Series 1—6; 36 episodes
2016 Ross Kemp's Britain 3 episodes
2017 Ross Kemp Behind Bars: Inside Barlinnie ITV
2018 Ross Kemp & the Armed Police
2019 Welcome to HMP Belmarsh with Ross Kemp 2 episodes
2020 Ross Kemp: On the NHS Frontline 2 episodes
The Millennium Dome Heist with Ross Kemp
2021 Britain's Tiger Kings - On The Trail With Ross Kemp 2 episodes[29]
2022 Searching for Michael Jackson’s Zoo with Ross Kemp Documentary[30]
2022 Ross Kemp: Shipwreck Treasure Hunter Sky History 4 Episodes[31]


Year Film Role
1987 Playing Away Sonny
2011 Quick Slip Me a Bride Trevor


Year Title Role Notes
2018 Ross Kemp Extreme Tales Live Himself Dates: 6, 10 and 14 February


  1. ^ "ON THIS DAY: July 21". Swindon Advertiser. 21 July 2014. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  2. ^ "Kemp to return to Albert Square". Manchester Evening News. 23 May 2005. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
  3. ^ "Ross Kemp – Awards". IMDB.
  4. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Hitman & Her: Full Show Flicks Brechin Summer 1990, retrieved 4 March 2021
  5. ^ "Ross Kemp finally lured back to 'EastEnders'". Digital Spy. 21 May 2005.
  6. ^ "Ross Kemp returning to EastEnders for Barbara Windsor's exit". BBC News. 18 January 2016.
  7. ^ "KEMP IN£1.2M ITV DEAL".
  8. ^ "Video: Top Gear Season 14 Episode 4". Archived from the original on 20 August 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  9. ^ "Ross Kemp on Gangs (TV Series 2006– )". IMDb.
  10. ^ O'Hare, Paul (2 February 1999). "Grannie competes with EastEnders hardman for university rector's post". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  11. ^ a b "Five in the running for rector at Glasgow University". The Herald. Glasgow. 2 February 2001. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  12. ^ "Students want Kemp kicked out". BBC News. 13 October 2000. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  13. ^ "Kemp quits university post". BBC News. United Kingdom. 8 November 2000. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  14. ^ Belcher, David (2 March 2001). "Greg's university challenge Glasgow's new student rector, funnyman Greg Hemphill, will be taking the role very seriously". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  15. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories". The Guardian. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  16. ^ "Ross Kemp adds muscle to Labour campaign". Express & Star. Wolverhampton. 6 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  17. ^ Seddon, Sean (5 June 2017). "See Ross Kemp campaigning for Sunderland Labour candidate ahead of general election". Evening Chronicle. Wolverhampton. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  18. ^ Allison, David (5 June 2017). "TV star Ross Kemp in Sunderland to back Labour candidate ahead of election". Sunderland Echo. Sunderland. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  19. ^ "National Thank You Day: Ross Kemp talks royal celebrations and his favourite cake". BBC News. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  20. ^ Laville, Sandra; Wells, Matt; Dodd, Vikram (4 November 2005). "The editor, the actor, the (ex) cabinet minister and a night behind bars". The Guardian. London.
  21. ^ "Editor free after Kemp 'assault'". BBC News. 3 November 2005. Retrieved 2 May 2007.
  22. ^ "Ross Kemp granted quickie divorce". Digital Spy. 6 March 2009.
  23. ^ "BABY JOY! Former EastEnders star Ross Kemp becomes a dad – now". 8 November 2010. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  24. ^ Wilson, Benji. "Ross Kemp: confronting danger". Reader's Digest. Reader's Digest. Archived from the original on 20 September 2014. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  25. ^ Davis, Rachael (6 April 2021). "How EastEnders star Ross Kemp went from having no kids in his mid 40s to a doting dad of 4 in his mid 50s". MyLondon. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  26. ^ "Ross Kemp shares incredibly rare personal photo with fans". 27 May 2021.
  27. ^ "Ross Kemp wins Best Investigation award for Extreme World: India - Asian Media Awards". 10 November 2014. Archived from the original on 10 November 2014.
  28. ^ "Alex Scott and Ross Kemp to host new BBC Daytime Quiz formats made in Scotland". Retrieved 7 November 2021.
  29. ^ "ITV commissions new Ross Kemp documentary on the trail of Britain's Tiger Kings". Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  30. ^ "Searching for Michael Jackson's Zoo with Ross Kemp". Retrieved 18 April 2022.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by Rector of the University of Glasgow
Succeeded by