It seems that everything Ross Kemp touches turns to gold. Once pulling in 25 million viewers for his part as loveable rogue Grant Mitchell in EastEnders’ explosive ‘Sharongate’ storyline, then winning a BAFTA for his hard-hitting documentary series Ross Kemp on Gangs, his debut as game show host last year saw Bridge of Lies become the BBC’s best-performing new daytime quiz.
With Celebrity Bridge of Lies starting on Saturday, January 14 at 6.05 pm on BBC One, Ross is also hoping to transfer its success to primetime weekend evenings.
Each week, Ross will preside over a team of four celebrities as they try to win money for charity by crossing the notorious Bridge — a collection of computerized stepping stones featuring various truths and lies based on general knowledge categories. Each famous face must safely step on the truths and avoid the lies — or risk being eliminated.
And how appropriate that the first team off the blocks are all soap actors, with EastEnders’ John Partridge, Coronation Street’s Faye Brookes, Emmerdale’s Natalie Anderson and Hollyoaks’ Richard Blackwood putting their usual rivalry aside to take on the bridge together.
In an exclusive interview, Ross talks jeopardy, celebrity fans and whether he’ll ever return to the soap that made his name…
How do you feel about being Mr Saturday Night?
"Hosting a Saturday night quiz isn’t something I thought I'd ever do but viewers seem to like this show and it’s light relief for me because normally I'm doing ‘misery’ with my documentaries — I’ve made over 120 now — but I think we've all had enough misery. Celebrity Bridge of Lies is a bit more ‘glam’ than the civilian version [which returns weekdays from January 23], it’s slicker and there’s a lot more jeopardy."
The first episode features soap stars. Did former EastEnders John Partridge and Richard Blackwood quiz you about your time on the BBC One soap?
"Yeah, we certainly had a few giggles about shared moments of joy and pain that you have in a soap. John Partridge got Shakespeare as a category — I won’t reveal whether he made it across the Bridge but all the celebrities played well and raised lots of money for charity. The episode featuring the drag queens was my favourite — for reasons that will never go out on television pre-watershed!"
There's also an episode devoted to past Strictly stars. Is that a show you'd ever do?
"The first time I got asked to do Strictly, I was making a documentary in Afghanistan, so I couldn't. I love dancing but I know people who’ve done Strictly and you’ve got to dedicate so much of your life to it. So, while I can’t rule it out, I haven’t got the time right now."
Did you have any reservations about going from ‘gangs’ to game shows?
"Ha, ha! I think the landscape has changed. If you look at, say, Bradley Walsh, he can host The Chase, appear in Doctor Who and star in other serious dramas. I reckon Bradley and ex-Pointless star Richard Osman are among our best game show hosts. I'm not gonna compare myself to them but Richard posted a Tweet saying he enjoyed Bridge of Lies. Coming from him, that's a big thumbs up!"
Since leaving EastEnders in 1999, you’ve returned for short stints. Would you ever go back again?
"EastEnders was 10 years of my life, so I owe it a lot but I've also been fortunate enough to travel around the world — admittedly to destinations people try to avoid! — and those experiences have made me a better person. I enjoyed my time on EastEnders and I’ll be forever indebted to it, so I'd never say I don't want to go back, that would be silly!"
Can we expect more documentaries in 2023?
"There are four new episodes of my deep-sea diving documentary, Shipwreck Treasure Hunter, on the way for Sky History. Making documentaries in hostile environments in particular is in my blood. It's an important job if you're asked to do it, so my appetite for that has definitely not waned. I feel lucky I get to do so many different things."
Celebrity Bridge of Lies starts on Saturday, January 14 at 6.05 pm on BBC One, with Bridge of Lies returning weekdays on Monday, January 23 at 4.30pm on BBC One.
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With over 20 years’ experience writing about TV and film, Vicky currently writes features for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week magazines plus news and watching guides for WhatToWatch.com, a job which involves chatting to a whole host of famous faces. Our Vicky LOVES light entertainment, with Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK among her fave shows. Basically, if it’s got a shiny floor, she’s all over it! When she’s not watching TV, you might find Vicky in therapy… retail therapy that is!
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