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Everything Roman Kemp has said about his late godfather George Michael

The Capital FM presenter cherishes his memories with the late star

Split image of Roman Kemp and George Michael
Megan Bull
TV Writer
13 December 2023
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George Michael is revered as one of the best-selling musicians of all time but to Roman Kemp; he was more like an "uncle" than anything else. Having played matchmaker to Roman's parents – Shirlie Holliman and Martin Kemp – the Wham! legend was appointed godfather to both Roman and his older sister Harleymoon, a role he cherished. 

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During his 2019 stint on I'm a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here, Roman, 30, recalled his fondest memories of George, who sadly passed away on 25 December 2016. Describing the singer as "an amazing guy," Roman explained: "You'd see him at dinners, Christmas, the lot. 

"It is really nice that all the memories I have are so nice, going on holidays, and having my parents compete with Christmas presents," he continued. 

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"One year, I must have been four or five and my dad bought me a bike, a Raleigh bike. I remember George came round to the house and brought in my present and he'd gone to Harrods and bought one of those electric cars but not just that, it was a Batmobile. I've still got it."

As for their summer holidays, Roman noted that these were often spent at George's home in St Tropez, during an interview with The Times

George would host the kemps at his home in St Tropez over the summer holidays © Michael Putland
George would host the kemps at his home in St Tropez over the summer holidays

"He would send a helicopter to pick us up from Nice airport. I'm very aware that the circumstances I've been born into aren't 'normal'. I had the most privileged, amazing upbringing any child could ever ask for," Roman admitted. "One of the things I love the most is my family life and I'm so happy that I was born into this unit."

Despite George's abundant wealth and fame, Roman finds it "strange" to think of him as anything other than "mum's best mate," and he also credits the star with getting his parents together. 

George Michael and Shirlie Holliman© Getty
George was close friends with Roman's mother Shirlie

"My mother always said that she said to George Michael at a party that she was going to marry him [Martin Kemp]," he revealed on I'm a Celebrity. "They were at some party and one of George's friends brought him over and they started talking. My dad gave my mum his phone number and my mum went back to George's house and George forced my mum to call him."

In a sweet turn of events, George even accompanied a nervous Shirlie on her first date with Martin. "Their first date, George went with them," said Roman. "My mum didn't want to go on her own. They went to see Sade at the Camden Palace. My dad spent the whole date trying to get rid of him."

Shirlie Holliman and Martin Kemp in 1984. © Getty
George accompanied a nervous Shirlie on her first date with Martin Kemp

Following Martin and Shirlie's 1988 wedding, George took on the role of godfather with their daughter Harleymoon's birth in 1989, and Roman's in 1993. 

George's death came as a devasting blow to the Kemp family in 2016, especially as they'd planned to spend Boxing Day with the singer.

MORE: Roman and Martin Kemp's best father-son bonding moments in pictures

READ: Roman Kemp's sweet sibling bond with sister Harleymoon – best photos

Nonetheless, George's legacy lives on in the memories of those who loved him, and for Roman, the 30-year-old remains grateful for the lessons he learned from his godfather. 

Speaking to The Sun, Roman said: "Having parents who have been through the industry and a godfather who's been through the industry in the way that George Michael did, you realise the thing everyone's chasing isn't actually that great. Yes, money is fantastic but other than that, it's just a bit boring.

Roman Kemp in black jacket on red carpet© Getty Images
Roman has the fondest memories of George

"My big worry is I zoom out at the end of my career and I go, 'My god, I spent my whole time just trying to get people to like me,'" he continued. I don't perceive life as walking down red carpets. It's about having a family and raising kids that are nice people in the world."

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