Spandau Ballet’s Gary and Martin Kemp have returned to the small screen with another dose of television gold, following the success of their 2020 mockumentary, “The Kemps: All True.” In this latest venture, award-winning documentary filmmaker Rhys Thomas OBE shadows the Kemp brothers over an entire year as they embark on creating a biopic, experience divorces, and form a supergroup. As expected, not everything goes according to plan. Michael Kitchen reprises his role as the long-suffering manager of the Kemps, accompanied by several prominent cameo appearances.
“The Kemps: All Gold” is a BBC Studios Comedy production (1 x 60) for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer, commissioned by Jon Petrie, Director of Comedy at the BBC. Rhys Thomas serves as the Executive Producer for BBC Studios, and Ben Caudell is the Commissioning Editor for the BBC.
The programme is scheduled to air on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer on Friday, 29 December.
Interview with Gary and Martin Kemp
Gary, Martin, you’re back! What can you tell us about The Kemps: All Gold?
Martin: This is bigger, better and funnier than the first one. If you thought The Kemps: All True was funny then you have to check this one out because it will make you laugh your head off.
Gary: This one begins a few years after the first show. My character, Gary has moved out to the countryside to get his head together and to write Spandau the Ballet. He has spilt with his wife, has been in a lot of trouble with Wonge but still trying to keep that going. Then suddenly much to my annoyance, out of the blue my brother turns up because he’s been kicked out by Pepsi and Shirlie.
Martin: Yeah Pepsi and Shirlie have kicked me out as they’ve finally had enough of me and I’ve turned up to go and live with Gary for a while
Gary: And then all types of shenanigans start to happen including ghost stories.
Martin: It’s like every good Christmas story, it has to have an element of ghost story in there same as Scrooge,
Gary: And we’re trying to earn some money from music, actually Martin’s trying to earn more money than I am
Martin: Well I’ve got two wives to look after.
Gary: He does have two wives to look after and I’ve just got my hay bale and our other brother, Ross Kemp (no not that one!) is living with me working on my land.
What was it like working with Rhys Thomas OBE again?
Martin: Rhys is a joy. It’s not many times you pick up a script that makes you laugh out loud and his does. Rhys’ scripts really make you belly laugh and he’s such a joy to work with.
Gary: We trust each other. We’ve established our characters and we’re happy with that and there’s a great trust with Rhys. If he comes up with ideas and lines then we’re willing to try those. There’s never any ego in the room, well there can’t be, our characters have egos, but we try not to have them too (laughs).
You mentioned there about the script, did you have any input in the writing process?
Gary: We always talk about the ideas before the script is written by Rhys so we’ll have meetings where we discuss concepts and situations and then come up with lines.
Martin: It’s a very free process, Rhys is very open, if you are working on set with Rhys and you have a great idea, he’ll definitely stick it in.
Gary: We trust him, if he wants us to play something down or play something up then we’ll go with his advice because he’s very funny, he laughs all the time and is such a glass half-full guy.
What was it like on set?
Gary: Aw it’s great! Martin and I have worked together for so long, we did our first TV project in around 1970/71, we were both playing two kids coming back from a Arsenal football match and we bumped into someone in the street & had to talk about the match. It was for ‘Jackanory’ on the BBC so working together is what we’ve done for fifty years.
Martin, what was it like being back with Tamzin Outhwaite again?
Martin: It was brilliant. Tamzin and I had three great years at EastEnders where we did some really good work. I’ve cried, laughed and been all over the shop with emotions on different scenes with Tamzin so coming back to together with her was so great.
Gary: And she’s playing our mum!
Martin: Yeah she’s playing our mum, it was the funniest thing sitting there with her slippers on smoking, it could have been our mum back in the day.
Gary: Absolutely. And the other actors that are in the show, Dexter (Fletcher) and Perry (Benson) we’ve known since we were kids with Anna Scher Theatre. Rhys has got a lot of actors he’s worked with before like Christopher Eccleston.
You’ve mentioned Dexter Fletcher there, tell us a little more about some of the guests stars you have in the show.
Martin: Francis Rossi from Status Quo was amazing to work with. When he came on set there was no telling if he got the joke properly, how heightened reality was on the set and the story. There was this lovely bit when he first came along, he was a bit wary about putting his guitar on and taking the mickey out of himself and the music but after about an hour he walks up on stage where we were filming and he starts playing Status Quo riffs and straight away we started joining in.
Gary: It was great because we started improvising music with him and having so much fun but he was a great actor and he immediately nailed the part, so dry and old school. I think Christopher Eccleston is great to work with and of course lovely Lenny Rush, one of the nicest young men I’ve ever met, so good and soo funny. I found it really difficult working with him in scenes we had together as he had me cracking up every time.
Martin: When you play something as heightened as that you have to understand where your baseline is, where you reality is to take it up so it’s not just turn up and be stupid you have to understand what the scene will be without it being heightened and that’s why I think Christopher Eccleston does it really well.
Gary: Danny John-Jules as well, he was so strong in that character and he has a very strong through line in it. And of course Perry Benson playing our brother is someone I can’t not keep a straight face in front of either.
Do people think he’s actually your brother?
Gary: Well yes I think they have begun to think that.
The Kemps: All True had a great reception when it aired in 2020, were you surprised at the reaction it received?
Gary: I was really glad. I thought it was really funny but I thought people might misunderstand it or they might bring their own baggage of opinions they had about us to the show. I think what happened was people were shocked and surprised that we were willing to go as far as we did in taking the mickey out of ourselves and the stupidity of the show in a way, that was quite a surprise to people. The reaction was really good, I don’t really look at social media for reaction but I was pointed in that direction.
Martin: It’ll be really interesting when this one comes out because people who saw the first one straight away will understand where we’re at, what sort of comedy this is and how ridiculous the situations are. So they will know what to expect which is why we had to change the film from being documentary led where it was talking heads like the last one was to much more of a movie so we are giving people something that’s really different.
Have you got any other family members who wanted to be in the show?
Martin: They did but we couldn’t make it work due to schedules.
Gary: Shirlie is soo convincing, she’s terrifying, I actually think, Shirlie do you realise this isn’t real (laughs).
What’s your most memorable scene from The Kemps: All Gold?
Martin: For me it’s the moment I have to go and stay at Gary’s house and we think there’s a ghost in the house and I have to get into bed with him. The two of us in bed together is a moment I will never forget because it was complete slapstick, me saying Gary move up there’s a ghost, it was like Morecombe and Wise. It was two men sharing a bed together which is what we used to watch at Christmas.
Gary: It was very funny. I also liked when we were shooting Spandau Ballet the movie with Dexter Fletcher and we’re playing those parts and they CGI our faces younger and we’re dressed up as New Romantics, the costume department did a great job with those. Then we’re having a conversation with Tamzin whose playing our mum and its soo funny.
Martin: They worked out the more dots you have on your face for CGI the younger they can make you look, so we go too far, put too many dots on and become like babies (laughs).
What’s next for you both?
Gary: We hope to do another one of these if this one does well. We’ve got some strong ideas that we’re batting around.
Martin: It’s something I would love to take further. For me it’s taking two weeks away from real life where you can just laugh your head off, there’s nothing better.
Gary: I’m making another record on my own and going to be doing some more shows with Nick Mason and continuing my podcast.
Martin: I’m out on the road doing the 80’s DJ shows every week and writing a novel.
Finally, how would you best describe The Kemps: All Gold?
Gary: Chaotic comedy
Martin: One word, bizarre
Gary: Bizarre to watch bizarre to film and hopefully a lot of fun.
Martin: And a real belly laugh!