Roman Kemp on growing up in the world of celebrity, fame and nepotism
The Capital Breakfast host chatted to Radio Times Podcast about his upbringing, experience of fame and new quiz show The Finish Line.
This interview was originally published in Radio Times magazine.
If you tune into the television now, there's no shortage of shows that charismatic host Roman Kemp can be found on.
From his newly promoted regular presenting stint on BBC One's The One Show to new game show The Finish Line or BBC Three's Boot Dreams, Kemp has made a name for himself as a presenter on the small screen as much as his well-known radio host role for Capital Breakfast.
Ahead of the release of The Finish Line, Kemp chatted to The Radio Times Podcast about the new show, but also about growing up as the 'famous kid' with two very successful parents – father and Spandau Ballet singer Martin Kemp, and mother and Pepsi & Shirlie singer Shirlie Holliman.
He talks about what growing up in the world of celebrity taught him about friendships, too, as well as how his love of sport filters into his TV habits.
What‘s the view from your sofa?
My TV! I am a classic guy. The first second I viewed my property, I thought, "Where’s the TV going?" It’s a pretty big screen – 75 inches! I sit so slouched on my sofa that I give myself neck and back problems. On either side of the TV are shelves of books, not that I read. They’re just for decoration, and like everyone else living within the confines of London, I own ceramic pots from H&M Home.
What have you enjoyed watching recently?
My life very much revolves around sport. I watched Quarterback on Netflix, which is an unbelievably great series following the lives of NFL players in America. And The Deepest Breath [also Netflix], a phenomenal feature-length documentary about free diving.
We’ve seen you on Celebrity Gogglebox with your father Martin, of Spandau Ballet and EastEnders fame. Who controls the remote?
My dad… it’s so annoying! I have PTSD when I hear the Antiques Roadshow theme tune. It reminds me of my school years and Sundays when I hadn’t done my homework.
You mum Shirlie was in the pop group Pepsi & Shirlie, your godfather was George Michael — what was it like growing up in a world of celebrities?
I’ve hit the jackpot with my parents. I’m so privileged. I got every birthday present I ever wanted. I went on amazing family holidays. I had a celebrity experience as a kid. But the thing my parents have taught me, which I want to pass down to my children, is how to love and how to understand someone else’s point of view.
What did your upbringing teach you about the world of celebrity?
My upbringing gave me an opportunity to see that that the world isn’t as nice as people think it is. If someone thinks about fame, they think about the best parts of it. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a sob story for famous people – they do have it good. But it’s also very lonely. My dad does not have one friend. He lives his life like that because he’s had so many people in his life that he thought he could trust, then realised he couldn’t. My dad’s favourite person is my mum!
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And how have you found the experience of fame yourself?
The only part about fame I find difficult is being known. When you’ve got someone coming over to you in the middle of the street, talking to you about suicide – which I’ve campaigned about – there are days where I would rather not go out because I can’t deal with it.
What do you think of those unkind critics who suggest you only landed your breakfast show on Capital because of your showbiz connections?
It’s part of nature for people to say you got this because of this person. I’ve thought like that! When Brooklyn Beckham released a photography book, I thought, "How has he done that? It’s because his dad is David Beckham." People do the same to me. He might be the most talented person in the world – it’s just my small-mindedness.
You host the new BBC quiz show The Finish Line, which sees five contestants compete in tasks as well as tests of knowledge. What sets this apart from other quizzes?
I think we’ll break a record for how many questions there are in a quiz show! One of my favourite things was working with Sarah Greene. Before we recorded each episode, we predicted who’d do well. Sometimes if a contestant went out, I’d mouth to Sarah, "I told you!"
How would you fare as a contestant?
Awful. I have the attention span of a goldfish.
The Finish Line continues on BBC One on weekday afternoons at 4:30pm.
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