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Roman Kemp On Gogglebox, Men’s Mental Health And Working With His Dad

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Despite usually being found behind the mic, Capital Breakfast presenter Roman Kemp has made his fair share of television appearances over the years.

From a stint in the Australian jungle as part of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! to his recent BBC Three documentary Roman Kemp: Our Silent Emergency, looking at the mental health crisis following the death of his friend and Capital colleague, Joe Lyons, Kemp’s career is on an upward trajectory.

Now though, the 28-year-old has returned to the comfort of his sofa alongside his father, former EastEnders actor and Spandau Ballet member Martin Kemp, for Channel 4’s Celebrity Gogglebox.

With new episodes airing weekly, we discover more from the presenter, alongside what it’s really like to work with your dad on national television…

When you signed up for Celebrity Gogglebox, did you think you’d still be involved three series on?

When we first got asked to do it, what, three years ago now, I was aware that it’s normally just a celebrity special. At the beginning, it was like they hired the same bunch of celebs for three episodes, saw how it went, and then if they liked you, they kept you on – almost like an audition process.

After the first season, I said to my dad, ‘They don’t ask people back’, and then I think myself, Grimmy [Nick Grimshaw] and Rylan [Clark-Neal] all of a sudden got asked back and it just became a thing.

Was your dad as eager to get involved as you were?

It’s something that – my dad will say this as well – at the beginning, I had to convince him to do because he’d never done something that let people in, especially into the house.

He’d never done anything that made him feel exposed, I guess. But I think with how the world is now, with Instagram and things like that, I just said to him, ‘This is the future, you’ve got to jump on board here’. And now he loves it – it’s one of his favourite things we do together.

Do you think it’s allowed viewers to see a different side to Martin Kemp?

I think a lot of people had a view of who Martin Kemp was for a while, in terms of them thinking he’s a hard man – that’s how he was seen, a hard man, and in a band.

I feel like on Gogglebox they get to see my dad, they don’t see a celebrity. We argue, we bicker, we take the piss out of each other, we love each other and we laugh so much, and in reality, we do. It’s really nice.

Would you ever want to get your mum or your sister involved?

[Gogglebox] asks every year, [and gets a] frank, no. Do you know what it is? Me and my dad are quite rude sometimes, and my mum doesn’t like it.

My mum doesn’t like the swearing. I remember, she was really upset the first time it ever went out because I was swearing on there, and so was my dad, and some of the stuff we say is a bit on the line.

So, I think it’s better because we have a lot more gross chat when it’s just me and my dad. Unfiltered, basically.

Was it strange shooting with restrictions over the past year?

It really was because you’ve got to remember, at that point, it was like, ‘Am I allowed to see my dad? Am I allowed to sit next to him?’

And obviously, it’s a weird situation – because it was work, you’re allowed to see each other. But the fact we got this opportunity to do something special together during a pandemic was just really, really nice.

We saw on Instagram that you recently had a drag makeover from a RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant?

Yep! It was pretty amazing. I’ve said this for a long time: I’m game for anything. I’ve always been like that. You’ve got to have fun for the small amount of time you’re here and in the position that I’m in, I’m lucky enough to be able to do some fun stuff.

To be able to see how the queens do it and be made over by a queen in the form of Bimini Bon-Boulash was pretty cool. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve had to get it all off my face now, but listen, it was a great thing doing it for Pride month as well.

Your recent mental health documentary Roman Kemp: Our Silent Emergency has been really well received, were you surprised by the response?

It is just the most overwhelming thing I’ve certainly ever experienced. The jungle was the last time I felt that overwhelming feeling.

At the same time, doing that doc was very strange, because I did it, very selfishly, for myself. When people say, ‘You helped out in this situation’, you feel like a bit of a fraud, if that makes sense?

Have many people reached out to you off the back of it?

The day after we watched it, I got quite emotional, because some lad who was maybe 18 messaged me saying his parents had been asking him to go and speak about anti-depressants to a doctor and he had never done it.

He went the morning after the show and now he’s on them. That makes a difference.

Celebrity Gogglebox airs every Friday at 9pm on Channel 4.