Martin Kemp reveals EastEnders role helped him recover from brain tumor

Martin Kemp has said that getting his role in EastEnders was “what helped me recover, more than anything” after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

he was the bassist for Spandau Ballet, 61, who played Steve Owen on the BBC One soap opera from 1998 to 2002.

Speaking on the Dish podcast with Nick Grimshaw and Angela Hartnett, Kemp was candid about how EastEnders has helped his recovery path: “When EastEnders was recommended to me, everyone around me said, ‘Don’t do it. So don’t do it. It will ruin your career, don’t do it’. Well, because they didn’t have any big name actors on that show before, right?

That’s what helped me recover, more than anything else. It took me forward and left the whole nightmare behindMartin Kemp in his role in EastEnders

“Everybody grew up with EastEnders, so I was the first of those big-name actors to join.

“But when it was recommended to me, it was really only about 5 years after I went through the whole brain tumor business, which I went through in the 90s, about 95, and so for me , I was struggling to regain my sanity. and my brain is still not working properly after the surgery.

“To the point where sometimes I want to go left, I’ll go right, or like I can’t think of putting things in order, or anything like that. Line learning is just the way out there.

“When EastEnders was offered to me, it was my chance to pass it, so not only did I join EastEnders because I thought yes, it was a good show – but I myself was trying to get my life back on track. mine.

“Honestly, I don’t even know if I can remember the lines because my brain has been messed up since. So when I look back at EastEnders, it wasn’t just a good job.

“That’s what helped me recover, more than anything else. It took me forward and left the whole nightmare behind.”

Kemp was diagnosed with two brain tumors in 1995 and underwent surgery and radiation to treat the disease before taking on the role of one of Albert Square’s most memorable villains.

Speaking with host Grimshaw, 38, and Michelin-starred chef Hartnett, 54, Kemp also shared his experience of leaving the soap and getting his character killed.


Kemp as Steve Owen in BBC One soap EastEnders (Adam Pensotti/PA)

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“They killed me,” he said. I’ll tell you what happened when I came in one day and I said, I’m leaving, my time is up, I’ve done everything I can.

“So I went upstairs, talked to the boss, I said, ‘I have to go…. My time is up’, I know it is, because in EastEnders it’s the kind of show where you realize your time is up as you go around doing the same story but in another suit. You know what I mean?”

He added: “I went upstairs and told them, and the producer said to me, ‘Listen, you’re such a big character, you can come back to the show any time, we’re never going to come back to the show. now kill you, we want your character alive in case we want you back.’

“So anyway, I walked out and a few weeks later I came back, they called me upstairs, they said, ‘Martin, what are you going to do when you leave EastEnders, where are you going next?’ I said, ‘Actually, I have a contract with ITV.’ So I come back after a month, kill me.

“I opened the script and looked at it: ‘Steve Owen blew up’.”

After being involved in a number of mind-blowing storylines during the making of the TV series, Steve died after being trapped in a car that exploded in a fireball.

Dish, hosted by Nick Grimshaw and Angela Hartnett, is now available on all podcast platforms. Martin Kemp reveals EastEnders role helped him recover from brain tumor

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