Martin Kemp; actor, singer, hearthrob. And he’s coming to Great Yarmouth
He has been adored as the bass player bass in one of Britain’s biggest pop bands – and feared on screen as a murderous East End villain.
But it will be the upbeat version of Martin Kemp who rides into Great Yarmouth racecourse on a wave of 1980s musical nostalgia.
When the thunder of hooves dies out after the last race of Ladies’ Night on Wednesday July
17, he will spin up the sounds of the era when he and Spandau Ballet were topping the charts with their new romantic hits.
Martin said his Back to the 80s DJ set was “the most fun ever” and would be a celebration of “great songs and new sounds” to “re-live the best time of our lives”.
For him, it meant six albums selling more than 25million copies, 10 top-10 singles including Gold, True, and Through the Barricades, before Spandau split in the early 90s after a royalties dispute, and then reunited in 2009 with a sell-out world tour and new album.
Asked about the highlights of the Spandau years, he said: “So many highlights from number 1 records and Live Aid to getting back together in 2009! It was quite a journey!”
While many pop stars’ careers fizzle out after a brief bubble in
the charts, Martin continues to sparkle – thanks to the many strings to his showbiz bow.
Musician, stage and screen actor, author, director and talent show judge, the 58-year-old’s life remains busy.
Martin, born in Islington, London ,on October 10, 1961, was sent to a local drama club aged seven with brother Gary – when his mum thought it would help overcome childhood shyness. It worked.
After the excesses of Spandau’s heydays, he found movie acclaim as notorious gangster Reggie Kray – alongside brother Gary as Ronnie. Martin said it was his favourite acting role: “That story was a legend where I grew up so the responsibility to do it justice was immense.”
His TV fame was topped as East Enders baddie Steve Owen, who featured in top story lines including ‘Who Killed Phil?’ before his own character was killed off in 2002.
Martin also recalled a spell living in a Norfolk hotel while filming the six-part TV series Growing Rich, by Death of a She Devil author Fay Weldon in 1992, when he played the devil doubling as a suave chauffeur. It was set in a fictional East Anglia village and Martin loved his stay in the county.
He and wife, Wham! backing singer Shirley, whom he married in 1988, have a radio DJ son Roman and a photographer/ filmmaker daughter ,Harley Moon. His appreciation of life and family was heightened by having two brain tumours removed in the late 1990s.
But he has bounced back and is as busy as ever, having directed two feature films (horror/ thriller
Stalker in 2011 and crime drama
Top Dog in 2014), and enjoyed stage roles as record producer Sam Philips in the Million Dollar Quartet musical, Captain Hook in
Peter Pan at the world’s biggest panto in Wembley Arena in 2017, and Billy Flynn in
Chicago in 2018.
He came third in Celebrity Big Brother in 2012 – won by Julian Clary. Martin’s combination of musicality and stage presence saw him as a judge on the Let It Shine TV talent series seeking a cast for the musical featuring the songs of Take That.
Last year he appeared on Bear Grylls’ Celebrity Island, losing two stone and learning to savour his food and family life even more after everything was stripped away.
Martin says he enjoys acting and music equally, adding: “I like to look at entertainment as one big bubble... and everything inside that are my hobbies!”
Great Yarmouth Racecourse director Glenn Tubby said: “I remember Spandau Ballet very well from the 80s when I was at school so it’s exciting to have Martin booked for Ladies’ Nights to play some of the best tracks from that iconic era.
“Ladies’ Night is growing in popularity each year and Martin is now our third celebrity DJ following on from Sara Cox and Melanie C.”
Ladies’ Night and Martin Kemp’s Back to the 80s DJ set are on Wednesday July 17. Gates open 3.30pm. There are seven races from 5.35pm to 8.40pm. For tickets and more information see greatyarmouthracecourse.co.uk or call 01493 842527.
ABOVE: Martin Kemp – still a favourite “I like to look at entertainment as one big bubble... and everything inside that are my hobbies!”