TV hardman Ross Kemp is terrified his return to EastEnders will end in disaster.
Since leaving the BBC soap opera permanently in 2006, Ross has carved out a reputation as a fearless documentary maker, investigating some of the world’s most dangerous gangs and war zones.
However the actor, who played abrasive army veteran Grant Mitchell in the show, says he’s more frightened about his return to soap acting than dodging bullets while filming in the planet’s most treacherous places.
“I’m panicking about everything. About whether I’ve lost the ability to learn all the lines,” he tells Britain’s Radio Times magazine. “About whether I can cope with it all. The middle-class ethics I was brought up with. I worry about letting people down, letting myself down. That’s my biggest fear. It’s going to be like going back to sixth form.
“I’ve had sniper rounds go through the wall behind me, and I am quite cool under fire. I’m good at dealing with things like that. But I’m wetting myself at the thought of going back to EastEnders.”
After their introduction to the East London based soap in 1990 Grant and his brother Phil, played by Steve McFadden, featured in a string of memorable storylines and became two of the show’s most beloved characters.
Despite still being regarded as one of the soap’s breakout stars a decade after his departure, Ross feels his career in factual filmmaking is more stable than acting due to the fleeting nature of fame.
“To be honest, I love acting, don’t get me wrong,” he says. “But you have to be nice to lots of people and you have to be worried at every turn that you are no longer fashionable, the face of the week, the month…
“Lots of people on EastEnders became famous overnight. But without the money, the intellect or the support they just imploded.”
In another recent interview, the actor revealed Barbara Windsor, who plays his on screen mother Peggy, persuaded him to return over dinner.
“We met for dinner with my wife and her husband Scott, and she didn’t put a gun to my head but she may as well have done, he told Britain’s The Sun newspaper. “Have you tried saying no to Dame Barbara Windsor? It is not easy. She asked me face to face in the restaurant. I had no idea it was coming.”
Ross will return to Eastenders later this year (16), as part of a storyline which will see Barbara depart the soap after 22 years as Peggy Mitchell.
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