Ross James Belshaw Kemp (born 21 July 1964) is a BAFTA award-winning English actor, author[2][3] and journalist, who rose to prominence in the role of Grant Mitchell in the BBC soap opera, EastEnders. Since 2006, Kemp has received international recognition as an investigative journalist for his critically acclaimed and award-winning documentary series Ross Kemp on Gangs.


 [hide*1 Acting career

Acting career[edit]Edit

Early career[edit]Edit

Before becoming publicly known, Kemp made a TV commercial for Kellogg's Fruit 'n Fibre breakfast cereal. His first credited television appearance was in 1986, playing Graham Lodsworth in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale Farm (nowEmmerdale). He then made guest appearances in episodes of London's Burning and Birds of a Feather. He was in a film called Playing Away in 1986 in a minor role alongside Neil Morrissey.[4]


His most famous role to date is that of hardman Grant Mitchell in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. Kemp made his debut in February 1990. On-screen, Kemp, as Grant, was often at the centre of EastEnders' plots, amongst them abusive marriages to Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) and Tiffany Mitchell (Martine McCutcheon), and the "Sharongate" storyline, that saw Grant's brother Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) conduct an affair with his wife.

Kemp announced his departure from the show in April 1999, his last appearance being aired in October 1999 when his character moved to Brazil. Kemp refused to rule out an eventual return to EastEnders, and various media reports over the next few years speculated that he would be returning to the series. In early 2005, the BBC confirmed that Kemp would be returning to EastEnders later that year after six years away. Kemp joked that he originally auditioned to play the part of Wellard the dog. It was co-star Barbara Windsor who convinced him to go back for a brief period.[5] His first comeback lasted just a few weeks in 2005, but he returned for a period of three months in 2006, before departing once again in June that year. BBC bosses have left Kemp's role open for a possible future return. Kemp has won various awards for his portrayal of Grant.[6]

In December 2008, Barbara Windsor, Kemp's onscreen mother Peggy publicly called for Kemp to return to the role of Grant. In September 2009, Steve McFadden (Phil) and Danniella Westbrook (Sam), Kemp's onscreen siblings, also expressed their desire to have him back on the show.[7] Kemp has not ruled out returning to the soap again, but he said a return would not be any time soon.

Other roles[edit]Edit

Following his initial departure from EastEnders, Kemp moved from the BBC to ITV for a reported £1.2 million. 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 before being taken to Barnet Hospital in north London, but made a full recovery. although he was facing 2–5 months of recovery after the incident

He also starred as the lead in ITV's Christmas edition of 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 took the role of Army Staff sergeant Henry Garvie from the British Special Air Service. He continued to appear in this role until 2006. He also gained the role of "Cirra" in the 2004 TV film, SpartacusGerald Seymour's A Line in the Sand in which he starred as a businessman at danger from an Iranian hit-man, was due to be aired in September 2001, but was considered too sensitive because it dealt with Iran's nuclear weapons program and was not shown until 2004.

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, and he has also presented, on The Friday Night Project and 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 ofBelfast Harbour, after which Clarkson joked that Kemp was killed.[8]

Investigative journalism[edit]Edit

Ross Kemp on Gangs[edit]Edit

Main article: Ross Kemp on Gangs

The award-winning TV series Ross Kemp on Gangs, in which Kemp interviewed gang members around the world, was first broadcast in 2006. The first series featured gangs and police corruption in BrazilMāori gangs in New Zealand, neo-Nazi skinheads in California and gangsters in London. Kemp's success in infiltrating such notorious gangs is often accredited to his appearance as a generic bald man and tough exterior. The second series featured "MS13" from El Salvador, neo-Nazis in Russia, football hooligans in Poland, American "Bloods" and "Crips" gangs in St. Louis, and the Numbers gang in South Africa. In May 2007, Ross Kemp on Gangs was awarded a BAFTA award for factual programming. .

The show returned in September 2008 for four more episodes, starting in the Los Angeles district of Compton. A famously hazardous scene was filmed in Compton when gangland junior Matt 'Malicious' Ward misfired his gun in a rival gang's neighbourhood.

The show has also been released on DVD.

In early 2007 Kemp published his experiences from the TV programme in book form, in 'Ross Kemp. Gangs'.

In early 2009, Ross Kemp on Gangs began airing in the United States on the Investigation Discovery channel under the title "Gang Nation."

Ross Kemp in Afghanistan[edit]Edit

Main article: Ross Kemp in Afghanistan

On 21 January 2008, Sky broadcast the first episode of a five-part series Ross Kemp in Afghanistan, which entails Kemp following the 1st Battalion of the British Army's Royal Anglian Regiment during their deployment to Afghanistan'sHelmand Province from March to August 2007. In preparation for the assignment, Kemp had to participate in military training for personal defence, including use of the SA80 assault rifle. Kemp has a personal interest in the Royal Anglians, as he is from their recruiting area, and his father served with one of the predecessor regiments of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Norfolk Regiment, in Cyprus. He has since returned to Afghanistan to film a second series of Ross Kemp in Afghanistan, which began its broadcast on Sky One on February 1, 2009, titled Ross Kemp Return to Afghanistan.

Ross Kemp: In Search of Pirates[edit]Edit

Main article: Ross Kemp in Search of Pirates

In June 2009 his new series Ross Kemp: In Search of Pirates, debuted on Sky 1. Kemp investigates the boom in piracy on the world’s oceans, traveling to some of the planet’s biggest trouble spots to discover the problems faced by potential targets and those trying to protect them.

He begins in London, where he discovers the economic impact of hijackings on global trade, before joining a Royal Navy anti-piracy ship in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia.

Then he explores the impact of piracy in Nigeria, where more people are killed in raids than anywhere else in the world. He discovers the devastating effects that pirates are having on the area’s fishing fleet, with almost 300 workers killed over the past few years, and how attacks on oil tankers at the port of Lagos are threatening the country’s economy.

Ross Kemp: Middle East[edit]Edit

In January and February 2010, Sky broadcast a 2-part documentary on the situation in Gaza and Israel. Ross Kemp follows Hamas to try and get a glimpse at what is sparking the violence between the two nations in some of the most politically fraught places in the world. He also examines the black market importation from Egypt into Gaza.[9]

Ross Kemp: Battle For The Amazon[edit]Edit

Main article: Ross Kemp: Battle for the Amazon

In April 2010 Kemp's documentary, Battle For The Amazon, was shown on Sky 1, Kemp travelled to areas of the Amazon basin in Brazil and Ecuador, filming the practices of cattle farming, soya bean farming and oil exploration that are causing rapid de-forestation in the region.[10]

Ross Kemp: Extreme World[edit]Edit

Main article: Ross Kemp: Extreme World

In February 2011 his new series Ross Kemp: Extreme World debuted on Sky 1.

Ross Kemp: Back On The Frontline[edit]Edit

Main article: Ross Kemp: Back on the Frontline

Kemp returned to Afghanistan 10 years after the War in Afghanistan started. The show aired on Sky1 during Winter 2011.

Other documentaries[edit]Edit

Sky and Kemp have collaborated on various other documentaries. These include Ross Kemp: A Kenya SpecialRoss Kemp Meets the Glue Kids of Kenya and Ross Kemp in Search of Pirates.

Kemp signed a new two-year contract with Sky to produce and present 12 hour-long factual programmes for the channel, split over the July 2009 to July 2011 period.


Kemp has authored 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 new novel, 'Moving Target', was released in summer 2012.

Personal life[edit]Edit

His mother Jean was a hairdresser and his father John was a Detective Chief Inspector in the police force. He has one brother, Darren, who is a filmmaker for the BBC. He attended Shenfield High School and the Webber Douglas Academy.[11]

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.[12] Kemp refused medical attention for a swollen lip and no action was taken.[13] In March 2009 Kemp and Wade divorced, and in October 2010, Kemp became a father to a baby boy with ex-partner Nicola Coleman.[14]

Glasgow University association[edit]Edit

In 1999 he was elected as Rector of the University of Glasgow as the candidate of the Glasgow University Labour Club, but resigned in 2001 after the Glasgow University Students' Representative Council passed a motion requesting him to do so.[15] Kemp was succeeded by Greg Hemphill.[16]


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



Year Show Role Notes
1988 London's Burning Liver Salts 1 episode: 1.3
1989 Birds of a Feather Detective Inspector Monk 1 episode: Shift
1990 The Chief PC Dennis Scovell 3 episodes: 1.21.3 & 1.5
1990–1999 EastEnders Grant Mitchell Series regular
1993 Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time Grant Mitchell
1998 City Central Dilly Dally 1 episode: Nothing Like a Dame
EastEnders: The Mitchells – Naked Truths Grant Mitchell Spin-off video
2000 Hero of the Hour Richie Liddle
Without Motive DC Jack Mowbray 4 part series
A Christmas Carol Eddie Scrooge
2000–2001 In Defence Sam Lucas Series regular
2001 A Line In the Sand Gavin Hughes/Frank Perry Screened on ITV1 in 2004
2002 The Paper Round Accused Man
2002–2006 Ultimate Force SSgt. Henry 'Henno' Garvie Series regular
2003 The Crooked Man Harry Fielding
2004 Spartacus Cinna
2005 Extras Himself 1 episode: 1.2
2005–2006 EastEnders Grant Mitchell Series regular
2007 Robbie the Reindeer in Close Encounters of the Herd Kind Trooper #2 Voice role
2009 10 Minute Tales Liam 1 episode: The Running of the Deer
2011 That Sunday Night Show Himself Guest Panelist


Year Film Role Notes
1987 Playing Away Sonny
2011 Quick Slip Me a Bride Trevor Nominated: Golden Globe
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.