Actor Martin Kemp to quit Eastenders

EastEnders hardman Martin Kemp is to quit the soap after he was today poached by ITV with a two-year golden handcuffs deal, thought to be worth £1m.

EastEnders hardman Martin Kemp is to quit the soap after he was today poached by ITV with a two-year golden handcuffs deal, thought to be worth £1m.

The star - who plays Albert Square’s club boss Steve Owen - will join the ranks of Ross Kemp and Robson Green after landing the exclusive contract.

Kemp’s deal with the BBC1 soap runs out in April and he will head to ITV the following month.

ITV’s controller of drama Nick Elliott said today: "I am thrilled that Martin has been attracted by this opportunity to develop his career with ITV.

"ITV leads the way in quality, popular drama and Martin is an extremely talented actor. We think it’s a great combination.

"There are some very strong programme ideas on the table for Martin and we are really looking forward to working with him."

Kemp shot to fame with his brother Gary in Eighties band Spandau Ballet, shaking off their early New Romantic image to chalk up a string of hits like Gold, Only When You Leave and the number one True.

The brothers found acting success when they starred as Ronnie and Reggie Kray in the British movie The Krays.

A run of low-budget films followed and in the mid-Nineties he was diagnosed with a brain tumour which had been growing for years.

It was removed during major surgery and a metal plate had to be inserted to replace the top of his skull and his physical recovery took a year.

But he bounced back to hit the big time again with EastEnders.

The star is married to Shirlie, formerly of chart act Pepsi and Shirlie and a one-time Wham! singer.

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