Former EastEnders star Ross Kemp has criticised Sean O’Connor, who stepped down as executive producer on the BBC1 soap last month.
Kemp – who played Walford hard man Grant Mitchell – said of O’Connor’s regime: “He reminded me of a sort of schoolteacher of a kind of third-rate public school. That’s not really what you want for the cast of EastEnders.”
Speaking about what he perceived as the recent failings behind the scenes, Kemp added to the Sun: “You write it well, you cast it well and you do the right things – and you don’t abuse certain members, i.e. you don’t work them into the f****** ground, which is what happened.”
An EastEnders spokesperson said to RadioTimes.com today: “We have the utmost duty of care to all our cast and crew members.”
Ross Kemp (left) with EastEnders co-stars Barbara Windsor and Steve McFadden
O’Connor’s departure was announced back in June, along with news that John Yorke was being brought in as creative director on a temporary basis.
The exec had been in post for a little over a year, but his tenure had been a controversial one: the killing of the Mitchell sisters, the recasting of Michelle Fowler and a back-to-basics approach to plotlining having alienated some viewers.
But commenting earlier this week to the Mirror, Samantha Womack – who played Ronnie Mitchell – spoke out in defence of O’Connor, noting:
“My heart goes out to him and everyone struggling in the show. I’m always wary of making one single person a scapegoat. Ideas are brought to him too. It’s easy to pin the blame on one person, I don’t think it’s helpful.”
Speaking of her hopes for the show’s future, she added: “It’s full of talented hard-working people so I hope they get back on their feet.”
Ross Kemp: Extreme World starts on Sunday 9 July at 9pm on Sky1 and Now TV
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of EastEnders below.
And visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news