What’s not to love about Ross Kemp? Quite aside from the fact that he’s an absolute fantasy type bloke – for me anyway – he’s managed to make a career out of the persona of a character he played, and that’s got to be fairly unique!
So to celebrate the beginning of Ross’s new series, In Search of Pirates, which starts next Monday at 9pm on Sky1, here’s our own tribute to the ‘ardman of TV…
Ross of course was bad lad Grant Mitchell in EastEnders and since leaving the show he’s gone on to create an entire reality TV/journalistic career out of the fact that when people see Ross Kemp, they also see Grant Mitchell, who was built like a brick outhouse and who could always be relied upon to ‘off’ someone or beat someone up when necessary. Arguably, it’s this persona that’s taken Ross on to shows of the like of Ross Kemp on Gangs but of course, he’s now a ‘character’ in his own right; he’s no longer the “Oh yeah, he used to be Grant Mitchell…” bloke he first was when he left Albert Square.
So to rejoice in the gorgeousness that is Ross Kemp, let’s take a look at his career so far…
He started out in TV in 1986 when he landed the role of Graham Lodsworth in what was then Emmerdale Farm.
He subsequently made guest appearances in London’s Burning and Birds of a Feather before marching onto Albert Square in February 1990.
He and his brother Phil were the archetypal East End bad boys, with their womanising, hard drinking, hard fighting ways, and we loved them for it.
Sadly, Ross left in 1999 – I still miss him! – although he did make an all too brief reappearance in 2005 and then he stayed for three months in 2006 only to head off again and he’s not been seen since, on the Square at least.
When he first left EastEnders, Ross defected to ITV for a reported fee of £1.2 million to film Hero of the Hour. However, he was lucky that role didn’t kill him because he was accidentally shot in the face when one of the show’s stunts went wrong. Luckily, the bullet was a blank but nonetheless, he required hospital treatment, however, he recovered and his good looks weren’t harmed!
After that he starred in ITV’s adaptation of Scrooge in which he played a modern day loan shark whose life was turned around by the traditional three-ghost visits. He then went on to roles in Without Motive and In Defence before taking the part of Army Staff Sergent Henry Garvie in Ultimate Force. Many of these roles compounded Ross’s ‘hardman’ image of course and in 2006, he moved out of role-play and into the field of investigative reporting for Ross Kemp on Gangs.
It was a seismic shift for Ross in that he was no longer acting the role of fearless hard knock and dodging fake bullets – he was now going to be actually shot at by real bullets and have to demonstrate cahones the size of footballs. In the first series of Gangs, Ross interviewed gang members and investigated police corruption in Brazil as well as documenting dangerous gang activity all over the world. Ross continued to take his life in his hands to interview some of the world’s most organised and scary gangs, from Maori’s in New Zealand to neo-Nazi skinheads in California as well as interviewing gangsters in London.
Three more series’ have followed and again, in each place he visits, Ross put himself in considerable danger as he reports on murders, beatings, organised crime and other gang activities. In 2007, Gangs won a much deserved BAFTA award for the show. That same year, Ross produced a book about his experiences in filming the Gangs series’ and this was followed by another last year.
In January 2008 we saw the first episode of a new five-part series, Ross Kemp in Afghanistan, which saw Ross following the 1st Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment during their deployment in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. In order to prepare for the series, Ross had to undergo in military training in personal defence which included the use of an SA80 assault rifle. He’s since gone back to Afghanistan to film the second series which we saw early this year.
He’s also boldly gone where few non-criminal men have gone before to film other specials including Ross Kemp Meets the Glue Kids, Ross Kemp: A Kenya Special and his latest project, Ross Kemp In Search of Pirates, which, as I mentioned at the start of this article, will air the first of its three episodes on Monday 8th June on Sky1 at 9pm.
He really is fearless and has proven himself to be far more than the knuckle-dragging Grant who perhaps originally fashioned Ross’s future career into what it is today, but whether he’s dodging bullets and landmines with the troops or going into the heart of gangland territory where he’s likely to get himself shot, he’s been unstinting and relentless in bringing us some of the shocking truths about global violence.
And he’s a babe…
So here are some of Ross’s best bits from his career to date…
Here he is giving Phil a good hiding for sleeping with his wife Sharon
This clip shows Ross in action in Hero of the Hour
And here he is in one of my favourite A Christmas Carol adaptations ever…
This clip is from his investigation into gangs in Liverpool
And finally, here’s a clip from Ross’s deployment with the soldiers in Afghanistan
He really is a national treasure and the kind of bloke you’d most definitely want at your side in a bar fight and/or a romantic dinner for two…