Ross James Belshaw Kemp is an English actor who played Grant Mitchell in EastEnders from 1990 to 1999 and then again in 2005 and 2006. He reprised the role again in 2016.
Born on 21 July 1964 in Essex to John and Jean Kemp. His father was a Metropolitan policeman originally from Norfolk. 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 (now Emmerdale). 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.
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 and Tiffany Mitchell, and the "Sharongate" storyline, that saw Grant's brother Phil Mitchell 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. 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.
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. Kemp has not ruled out returning to the soap again, but he said a return would not be any time soon.
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 treatment in the hospital 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, Spartacus.
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 of Belfast Harbour, after which Clarkson joked that Kemp was killed. He had previously appeared as the star in the reasonably priced car and had matched the time of fellow former Eastenders actor Martin Kemp.