EastEnders: Shock reason Ross Kemp feared BBC soap return after ‘Sharongate’ exposed
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The BBC is airing some of ‘EastEnders’ most iconic episodes on Tuesdays to fill the void for eager soap fans, after the coronavirus pandemic put an end to filming earlier this year. Tonight ‘Sharongate’ will be broadcast, which was voted the top TV soap scene of the last two decades in 2012. During that episode, Sharon (Letitia Dean) was revealed to have been sleeping with her brother-in-law Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden). This led to an ultimate scuffle between him Phil and sibling Grant. By 2006, the deceived brother, played by Ross Kemp, left the show to embark on a new career as a documentarian. In the years that followed rumours about the star’s return to Albert Square were rife but the TV hardman made an odd confession about why he feared coming back.
Upon the initial release of ‘Sharongate’ in 1994, more than 24 million viewers tuned in – desperate to see the clash between two of the show’s toughest characters.
Ross Kemp left the BBC soap in 2006 amid claims that ITV bosses had offered him £1million to pursue new projects, according to a Guardian report of the time.
The actor launched a number of factual shows where he interviewed the likes of the Taliban, some of the world’s toughest gangs, prisoners and others.
He also made a cameo in the Ricky Gervais sitcom ‘Extras’, where he played a parodied version of himself who was terrified of “hardman” footballer Vinnie Jones.
Ross spent a decade away from ‘EastEnders’ before he returned to the London-based soap for the final days of Peggy Mitchell actress Barbara Windsor’s time on the show.
Despite putting himself in danger on a regular basis during his documentaries, he revealed he was way more concerned about acting again.
He told the Radio Times in 2016: “I’ve had sniper rounds go through the wall behind me, and I am quite cool under fire. I’m good at dealing with things like that.
“But I’m wetting myself at the thought of going back to ‘EastEnders’.”
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After years of soap fans hoping Ross would return, the star made the decision to rejoin the BBC line-up for Barbara Windsor’s final send-off from the show.
He said: “Barbara is a very close friend, so when I learned of the storyline it felt right that the Mitchell brothers are reunited with their mother for the last time.”
The star’s character initially left the ‘EastEnders’ after the death of his onscreen wife Tiffany Mitchell, played by Martine McCutcheon, and decided to move to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with his daughter Courtney.
He made a brief reappearance in 2005 before he left a year later and returned to screens again in 2016 – recently it’s been speculated another comeback could occur later this year.
‘Sharongate’ will be broadcast as part of ‘EastEnders: Iconic Episodes’ tonight (June 30) at 7.30PM on BBC One.
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