Ross Kemp has said he is “wetting himself” over his imminent return to EastEnders.
His much-admired series include Ross Kemp In Afghanistan, broadcast in 2008, in which he shadowed the Royal Anglian Regiment while they were stationed in the country.
But, as he he told Michael Buerk during an interview for the Radio Times, even coming under attack from enemy fire was not as daunting as the prospect of returning to the BBC One soap that made him a household name.
Ross Kemp will return to EastEnders (Ian West/PA)
“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,” he said. “But I’m wetting myself at the thought of going back to EastEnders.”
Ross will reprise his role as hardman Grant Mitchell for Dame Barbara Windsor’s final scenes as Albert Square matriarch Peggy Mitchell.
The actor made his first appearance in the popular soap in 1990 before departing nine years later. He was last seen on-screen as Grant in 2006.
Talking about playing Peggy’s son once more, he said: “Barbara is a very close friend, so when I learned of the storyline it felt right that the Mitchell brothers are reunited with their mother for the last time.”
Family is central to Walford’s Mitchells, and it is also key for Ross.
He was married to former newspaper editor Rebekah Brooks until their seven-year union ended in 2009. He is now married to lawyer Renee O’Brien.
Sky’s Ross Kemp In Afghanistan (Sky 1)
The couple have a nine-month-old son, while Ross also has a five-year-old son from a previous relationship.
“I have had my family late in life, and my overwhelming urge is to look after them,” he said.
In the interview, Ross also discussed Ross Kemp’s Britain, his new Sky One series, and said David Cameron is doing “an incredible job” as Prime Minister over the issue of the UK’s membership of the EU.
David Cameron praised by Ross Kemp (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)
Filmed in three parts, the show will see the 51-year-old explore three challenging problems facing contemporary Britain: immigration, child sexual exploitation and alcohol abuse.
On the subject of the EU deal announced last month which, among other things, gives the UK power to limit some EU migrants’ benefits, the Barking-born star spoke positively about Cameron.
“I think he’s done an incredible job as Prime Minister,” he said, “especially over the EU.”
The soap personality-turned-documentary maker added: “People are knocking his deal, but in the past it would have been hailed as an overwhelming success.”
Ross has been an active supporter of the Labour Party, but he criticised successive governments for not doing enough to control the UK’s borders.
He said the party he is associated with were most at fault. “They just didn’t check people, did they?” he stated.
BBC broadcaster Michael Buerk (Ian West/PA)
A Bafta-winner who picked up the 2007 best factual programme award for Ross Kemp On Gangs, Ross also said he understands why some British people feel “outnumbered” by migrants.
He told Michael: “If you find yourself being outnumbered in your village by immigrants, you’re within your rights to verbalise your concerns.”
Ross Kemp’s Britain is broadcast on March 22 at 9pm on Sky One.