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Exclusive: Martin Kemp talks cooking, romance and his fondest 80s memories

The Celebrity Gogglebox star loves working with son Roman

martin kemp star
Sophie Hamilton
Parenting Editor
June 14, 2021
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Martin Kemp is one of those stars who has it all – he can sing, act, has a great sense of humour, is rather handsome, oh, and he's a nice guy too. So HELLO! was more than happy to catch up with the former Spandau Ballet star over Zoom.

Martin, 59, hosts cookery chat show Martin & Roman's Weekend Best with his son, radio presenter Roman Kemp, and the duo also appear in Celebrity Gogglebox together. 

Below, the star tells us about his and Roman's close relationship and reveals that neither one of them can cook!

MORE: Roman & Martin Kemp get candid about their close bond and shared love of fashion 

WATCH: A look inside Martin and Shirlie's stunning garden

Martin also opens up about his happy marriage to former Wham! singer Shirlie, and tells us who his showbiz crush was before he met his wife - you'll never guess!

The presenter spoke to us in collaboration with Visa, who are encouraging people to report fraud and raising awareness of the Visa Zero Liability Policy. Read Martin Kemp's interview below…

We love watching your show Martin & Roman's Weekend Best – what's it like working together?

"Oh, it's lovely. I was in this room yesterday with Roman and we were shooting Gogglebox – it's so much fun. We do Weekend Best at the moment and we do Gogglebox together so he's kind of getting sick of me I think!

"But we love spending time together, you know. It's such a pleasure to do all of those shows. It's not like going to work, it's like hanging out with my boy."

roman kemp party

Martin and son Roman

Do you and Roman ever cook together?

"No, not at all. No, I'm a terrible cook. Roman's terrible but he keeps telling me he's really good, but doing that show I'm learning."

MORE: Martin and Shirlie Kemp's magical home is a haven of creativity - photos

Who does most of the cooking at home?

"My wife will do most of the cooking but I will do most of the washing up, so we kind of split it, you know. We all have our duties."

martin kemp wife

Martin and wife Shirlie

What's your secret to your happy marriage?

"Everyone says, 'What's the secret?' but I think it's about not just looking after the love between you but looking after the friendship as well.

"I think friendship is the bedrock of everything. I treat Shirley in the same way as I treat my friends, and I don't want to lose them. Love comes out of that. We love each other dearly and we've been together for over 40 years now so yeah, it's nice. I think love gets better the older you get."

Do you have date nights?

"Yeah, but I kind of give my mum and dad credit for that. I think it was my mum and dad who taught me how to love and how to think a relationship works, and I think it was by watching them.

"Things like that are passed down by your parents. I always give my mum and dad credit for my relationship."

MORE: 5 tasty summer salad recipes to try this week

We love the story of how you met…

"The first time I saw Shirlie it was when I was watching Top of the Pops. It was Thursday night and I was around my mum and dad's house and this new band came on called Wham! So I saw the blonde girl in that and absolutely fell in love with her over the screen.

"But it wasn't the first time that had happened to me… that had happened before when I fell in love with Cilla Black. I remember getting up and kissing the television.

"I saw Shirlie a couple of weeks later at a do, some VIP party, and I went over and I gave her my number and it took her about three weeks to call me.

"In the end, she rang and we arranged a date, but what she told me later is it wasn't her that called – it was George Michael. He picked up the phone, dialled the number and handed her the receiver."

spandau ballet

Martin in Spandau Ballet (bottom left)

Other than meeting Shirlie, what are your fondest memories of those days?

"They were the best times. The best times when I think back, were when we were completely naïve. As a band, as young people, we were so naive about life and we thought life revolved around us and they were my fondest memories.

"When Spandau got into playing football stadiums around Europe, that sounds kind of glamorous, but when I look back, I kind of skip those parts and think back to the beginning.

"The days when you're excited about getting your first record on Top of the Pops, playing the Hammersmith Odeon, but when it got past that and into football stadiums, it all got a bit too big. I'm glad we lived through all that and we did it all, but my favourite days are the early days."

Do you miss performing in a band?

"No, because I perform in different ways. I present, I direct, I act – I do all these things and I live inside this wonderful bubble called entertainment. If you do something you love doing, it keeps you young and it keeps you healthy. That for me is what success is."

How do you manage to stay so grounded?

"I think it's from my mum and dad. Me and Gary are the same sort of people. We were brought up by my mum and dad to respect other people and other people's things. We had nothing when we were kids – that makes me appreciate what I have today."

kemp family

Martin with wife Shirlie and children Harley and Roman

We all loved watching you as Steve Owen in EastEnders

"I think that's why they asked me to do this thing on scamming! It's Steve Owen's thing isn't it?"

Are you still in touch with any of your castmates from EastEnders?

"To be honest with you, acting's a funny thing. I always think you make transient friendships where you're best friends and you become a family when you're on that job – you love those people and you'd do anything for them – but the minute you move on and go to another job, you don't collect all those friends from 100 different jobs over the years and soon you've got 10,000 best friends. It doesn’t work like that.


Martin as Steve Owen in EastEnders

"Probably one or two that you pick up along the way that become your best friends. I still think I'm friends with Michael Greco and Tamsin Outhwaite was on mine and Roman's Saturday morning show not long ago, so lovely to catch up with her. But they don't become your best friends. But they're lovely people and I'm glad that they have passed in some way in my life."

We remember you had a health scare a while back with a brain tumour…

"That was back in 1995, well and truly fixed now. But you know, I'm like everyone, I went through that and it was something I said I wanted to talk about and not shy away from to make other people feel better.

"Me having those problems and coming through those, I always said I would use as an example for other people. Because when you're in the middle of that, you think that's the end but it doesn't always have to be."

What's coming up for you next workwise?

"There are a good few things, but you know that old saying, I can't tell you about it yet! There are several things coming up in the pipeline this year that are really exciting and I really wish I could tell you about but I can't at the moment."

Tell us about your involvement in Visa's campaign to encourage people to report fraud…

"When Visa came to me to represent me on this I thought it was such a good cause. Visa has a Zero Liability Policy which means that you won’t be left out of pocket if your Visa debit or credit card is used fraudulently.

"The other day I had one come through that was from HMRC and I clicked on it and went to the website that it led me to and it looked so authentic it was ridiculous.

"I got to the point where I was slightly thinking about putting my details in and it was only then that I thought, hang on a second, you don't put your details in anything. So I called my accountant and he said, 'Yeah stay away from it, it's a scam'. But it was just in that split second that I changed my mind.

"A friend of mine recently lost £70,000 and this is an intelligent, articulate, well-read woman and she just clicked on the wrong thing, followed it through not thinking about it, put her details in and before she knew it, her bank account was empty.

"What she suffered from was an embarrassment doing it and not wanting to report it, which I found incredible, from her. The only way we can stop this is by telling people about it. So they're out there all the time."

Martin Kemp has teamed up with Visa to encourage people to report fraud, have more open conversations and raise awareness of the protections in place such as Visa’s Zero Liability Policy which means people won’t be left out of pocket if their card or card details are used fraudulently.

Find out more about Visa’s protections by visiting

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