Ross Kemp has confirmed that he will not be returning to EastEnders for the show's 30th anniversary. Fans were previously hoping that the actor, who played tough man Grant Mitchell, would be making a comeback.
Ross starred on the BBC soap from 1990 to 1999, and then again from 2005 to 2006. His character was the son of Peggy Mitchell, played by veteran actress Barbara Windsor.
Revealing the news to Gloucester Citizen, Ross apologetically said: "I can't join [Barbara]. It's just about space in my diary."
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Ross Kemp starred in EastEnders for ten years, during two stints
The 50-year-old presenter and journalist, who has just finished filming the latest season of documentary series Extreme World, added that he hasn't shut the door on acting, and continues to feel grateful for the opportunities EastEnders landed him.
"Although I would never rule out going back to EastEnders, I owe it a heck of a lot," said Ross. "I think it's a great show."
"It's really good that fans would like to see Grant come back and it's testament to me and to EastEnders that the character was so great," Ross added to What's on TV.
"I'm really proud of the fact I was in the soap for so long and won a lot of awards voted for by the public. As much as I'd love to be there, I can't because I'm too busy."
Ross Kemp played Grant Mitchell, the on-screen son of Barbara Windsor
After leaving the show, Ross turned to investigative journalism and went on to travel the world and star in documentaries.
His former co-star Barbara, meanwhile, confirmed last year that she would be returning for the EastEnders special, having left the soap in 2010.
"I am absolutely thrilled that Peggy has been included in the celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of EastEnders," said Barbara. "What an incredible achievement for all the production, cast and crew, past and present."