EXCLUSIVE Martin Kemp on new EastEnders producer: 'If anybody can turn the show around it's him'

Earlier this year, EastEnders’ fans were left shocked when controversial executive producer, Sean O’Connor, announced that he was leaving the BBC One soap after just over year, with immediate effect.

His sudden departure fuelled speculation that O’Connor had caused unrest behind the scenes at EastEnders, with it previously being reported that the stars were unhappy with some of the storylines that he enforced during his reign – including the deaths of Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell and Mick Carter’s fling with daughter-in-law Whitney.

Martin spoke out at the National Lottery Awards. Copyright: [Rex]
Martin spoke out at the National Lottery Awards. Copyright: [Rex]

Former show boss John Yorke has temporarily stepped in as acting exec producer, with Yorke working on the show during its so-called “glory years” of the infamous Slater family, Sonia’s shock teen birth, and the Who Shot Phil? storyline.

Martin Kemp was one of the actors to star in the soap during Yorke’s original reign, playing bad boy Steve Owen until 2002, when his character was blown up following a dramatic car accident.

Chatting exclusively to Yahoo Celeb UK at the National Lottery Awards earlier this week, Martin told us that he believes that Yorke is the only person who could turn around EastEnders’ floundering ratings, admitting that he’d have happily returned to the soap if he hadn’t been killed off.

Sean O’Connor was heavily criticised. Copyright: [BBC]
Sean O’Connor was heavily criticised. Copyright: [BBC]

Martin shared: “I haven’t seen it for a long time, but we were looking at 20million people an episode [when I was on it] so the show meant a lot more to people.

“TV viewing has changed, there are more channels and laptops and whatever, so obviously the figures come down.

“But I think they have the right person in charge now – John Yorke.

“I think he will be an amazing asset, so if anybody can turn it around he can.”

Martin as bad boy Steve Owen in EastEnders. Copyright: [BBC]
Martin as bad boy Steve Owen in EastEnders. Copyright: [BBC]

He added: “I loved being on that show, but they blew me to pieces.”

Speaking of the National Lottery Awards, Martin went on to admit that he was likely to shed a tear during the ceremony, which celebrates all of the brilliant things that Lottery-funded projects have achieved over the past year.

He told us: “These events are always touching because they’re about real people, it’s not about giving another celebrity another award for being the best looking; it’s about real people who really deserve an award that we don’t get to celebrate much.

Martin was looking forward to celebrating ordinary people. Copyright: [Rex]
Martin was looking forward to celebrating ordinary people. Copyright: [Rex]

“In this business we are sick of celebrating, we celebrate everything all the time, celebrate each other all the time – these people don’t and it’s a real pleasure to make that moment for them.”

When asked if he was likely to cry at the emotional stories, Martin confessed: “I cry at everything; I love it, I’m a big believer in if something makes you emotional, whether laughing or crying, they’re just emotions – just let go.”

The National Lottery Awards 2017 – the annual search for the UK’s favourite Lottery funded projects – will be broadcast on Wednesday 27th September at 10.45pm on BBC1. To find out more visit www.lotterygoodcauses.or g.uk

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