Roman Kemp says there’s ‘healthy competition’ between him and dad Martin

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If you’ve listened to Capital Radio’s Breakfast show or tuned into series like Celebrity Gogglebox, you’ll know Roman Kemp has no ego. So when OK! meets Roman during his big afternoon hosting the TRIC Awards, it’s no surprise that the 28-year-old invites us into his dressing room and chats with ease as he gets suited and booted. “I think I was born without an embarrassment filter, which is part of the reason I’m sitting here topless talking to you,” Roman, who scooped two awards for Radio Programme and Radio Personality, says.

On top of his double win, the ceremony was also an emotional one for Roman. During his acceptance speech, he touchingly paid tribute to his best friend and producer Joe Lyons, who took his own life in August 2020. “He made me the person that I am,” Roman said. “I love him and I thank him every day.”

Here, the star opens up about the overwhelming reaction he’s had since making BBC documentary Roman Kemp: Our Silent Emergency in Joe’s honour, the joys of working in radio and the healthy competition he has with dad, Martin.

Hi Roman. You not only hosted the TRICs, but you also won two awards. How does it feel?

There’s not really any radio awards, so it’s a fantastic one and there were so many great people nominated. I can’t believe I was up against Tony Blackburn and Zoe Ball!

What’s your favourite thing about hosting the breakfast show?

It’s addictive doing breakfast radio. When I took over, I honestly thought I’d be there for a year and then they’d realise they’d made a mistake and let me go. But it’s just kept going and I’m still able to convince them that I’m alright.

Growing up, did watching your parents in the spotlight ever put you off of wanting to follow in their footsteps?

No, it just made it really normal. It put my sister off massively – Harley doesn’t want that. But the only way I can describe it is if someone’s a mechanic, their son or daughter might become a mechanic too.

When you started out people referred to you as “Martin Kemp’s son” – does he now get called “Roman Kemp’s dad”?

No, I’ve got a long way to go. But, actually, it’s generational. There are young kids who say, “You’re Roman’s dad who he sits next to on Gogglebox.” Then there’s older people who say, “You’re Martin’s boy.” But there’s no stress for me, ever. I’ll never be able to emulate what my mum and dad did. The one thing that puts pressure on is that they’ve done it all while being really nice people. I’m not going to be able to play Live Aid! It’s a pointless thing to try to be bigger and better, but there’s healthy competition between me and my dad.


In what way?

He’s always saying he’s working more. He’ll say, “How are you?” and I’ll reply, “I’m really tired,” and he says, “Oh yeah, well I’ve been doing this, this and this.” He calls me every day to tell me how great I am. He’s the best.

What do you most enjoy about working on Martin & Roman’s Weekend Best!?

The reason we did the show is genuinely because we both thought it would be so nice for my dad’s grandkids, and my kids, to be able to watch something with us together. I could say, “Me and your grandad did a show together.” That’s so nice for me to have for the rest of my life.

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What’s your bucket list job now?

A bucket list thing for me was even being able to go on The Jonathan Ross Show. And I’m always so upset that Graham Norton doesn’t win Best Presenter because if I could make a show, that’s what I would have. He’s phenomenal at what he does. So a chat show would be nice, but it’s just about enjoying it. I’d love to be able to say when I get to the end of my career that I’ve loved every job that I have done.

You spoke movingly in your TRIC speech about your late friend, Joe. What has the reaction to the documentary you made in honour of him been like?

Completely overwhelming. Too much, if I’m honest. It’s a weird one as, all of a sudden, all those who knew Joe were thrown into a world of suicide. And I don’t want to be there. That’s a responsibility I’m still learning. I’m still learning that if I go to a party I have men and boys coming up to me, saying, “I’m going through a really tough time.” There are days when I can’t take that on and it’s really hard. And, at the same time, you’re still grieving. I’m still having therapy about that. Don’t get me wrong, I have full respect for people who have opened up, but if you ask me what would
I prefer, I’d just prefer my mate back.

Do people get in touch to say they’ve opened up about how they’re feeling since watching the programme?

Every day. I’d say upwards of 50 people a day. What was really nice is I had lots of parents saying their kids were 18 and in a bad place and the doctor had recommended taking tablets but they didn’t want to. Then they watched the show and are now comfortable doing that and are in a much better place. That’s really nice because it’s breaking down that taboo. It takes an even stronger person to admit to their weaknesses

If you need someone to talk to you can contact The Samaritans free on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

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