Martin John Kemp is an English actor and musician, best known as the bassist in Spandau Ballet, as well as playing Steve Owen in EastEnders.
At the age of 7 he began to attend the Anna Scher Children’s Theatre drama club with his brother, Gary, and appeared in many TV shows, including Jackanory, The Tomorrow People, and Dixon of Dock Green.
Martin’s life changed when Steve Dagger, the manager of his brother Gary’s band The Gentry, suggested he should replace the band’s bass player. Eventually the band was renamed Spandau Ballet. Spandau Ballet were one of the most successful bands of the 1980s, achieving ten Top Ten singles and four Top Ten albums in the UK, their third album True, topped the charts all around the world.
Martin and his brother Gary returned to acting in 1990, both of them appearing to great acclaim in the British film The Krays in which they played the notorious gangster twins, Ronald and Reginald Kray.
Martin is also patron of The Encephalitis Society, and confirmed that he had had controlled epilepsy since the 1990s, as a result of having two brain tumours. Following the tumours, Kemp had a protective metal plate implanted over his brain under the scalp.
He went on to become popular for his role as villain Steve Owen in BBC’s, EastEnders. His character was involved in some of the soap’s highest rated storylines such as the Saskia Duncan murder and ‘Who Shot Phil?’
Spandau Ballet reformed in 2009 tickets for their gig at the London O2 arena sold out within 20 minutes and an extra two dates were added because of demand.
Martin married his wife Shirlie Holliman in 1988. Shirlie is a former backing singer of the group Wham! and one half of the 1980s pop duo Pepsi & Shirlie.
Martin’s first feature film as director was Stalker, starring Anna Brecon and Jane March in 2011.