Martin Kemp (‘Hustle’) interview

After last week’s golden series opener, the Hustle team return to our screens this week with an episode directed by ‘Mickey Bricks’ himself, Adrian Lester, and guest starring former EastEnder and Spandau Ballet musician Martin Kemp.

> Buy the Series 1-7 boxset on Amazon.

Airing at 9pm on Friday 20th January, Series 8 Episode 2 sees the team learn that a valuable Picasso has been stolen. However, a sticky situation arises when they unwittingly try to sell a fake of the painting to the original owner; a faux pas that results in Mickey being kidnapped with only a few hours for the team to return the genuine piece.

CultBox caught up with Martin to chat about his character, Harry Holmes, and the filming of the episode…

Were you a Hustle fan before you got the role?

“Well, I’ve always been a fan since it started. Hustle is kind of heightened reality isn’t it; it’s a lot of fun and it’s drama but also I and millions of other people like the way it looks… the way it’s shot, it looks almost like an American drama. So as soon as the part came along I really wanted to do it.”

What can you tell us about your character?

“Harry is a gangster. You know I’ve played a gangster several times, everybody knows (laughs). Harry’s kind of the amalgamation of Reggie Kray and Steve Owen, and all the gangsters that I’ve ever played but you push him slightly higher and make him kind of a ‘heightened reality’ gangster. He was a lot of fun to play.”

I can imagine with Hustle’s style, the character comes across really well…

“Absolutely, and this episode was Adrian Lester’s directorial debut so it kind of took the pressure off of me cos I think Adrian had a lot of pressure on him. I could feel that he was nervous as well so I kind of felt like it was quite a comfortable thing to do.”

So you had kind of an ally in the situation?

“Yeah, it is quite a daunting thing with such a long running show. As a guest star part everybody’s comfortable with each other and sometimes it’s quite a clique there. I think, looking at Adrian, he was out of his comfort zone; it helped me a little in a way.”

How was his performance as director?

“Really good! To his credit, he’s such a lovely, lovely man and I think he’s gonna be a very good director. He was great to work with. It’s always really nice when you have an actor that’s turned director helping you. You kind of understand what the actors are going through.”

What were the other regulars like to work with?

“They were great. It was lovely working with Robert Vaughn (Albert Stroller), which was the real thrill. I didn’t get to work with him that much really, but it was nice being on the same set as him. I was a huge fan of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. when I was a kid. I grew up loving that show, so that was a buzz.”

Bill Bailey and Sheila Hancock also appear in this week’s episode. Did you have much interaction with them?

“Well, with Sheila, yeah. I know Sheila from a few years back, she actually played my Mum when I was in EastEnders. There was one episode where we had to snog, which was kind of bizarre, but yeah, it did happen.

“So when I saw her again we were both kind of embarrassed about it, and all of a sudden Adrian said ‘Sheila, would you mind giving Martin a kiss’ and we both thought ‘Oh no, not again’ (laughs).”

What were the highlights of the Hustle shoot? Does any scene stand out in particular?

“No, I don’t think there is one, I just had a really good time of it, you know? I love working on film sets.

“If I wasn’t working tomorrow and a job came up I would rather be a runner on a film set than not do anything because I just love the whole atmosphere of being involved. The dressing rooms, the floor, the atmosphere that everybody has around, I love it all. It was just nice to be involved.”

What’s next for you then?

“I’ve got a couple of things in the pipeline but nothing that I can really talk about apart from the film I directed last year that’s out on DVD on the 30th of January, so I’m promoting that at the moment. It’s called Stalker, a horror film. It was a cinema release, now it’s coming to DVD.”

Now, I have to talk to you about Spandau Ballet. Are you guys doing any more in the near future?

“(Laughing) I’m not sure to be honest, I mean, on the level I would be up for Spandau Ballet in a heartbeat.

“Three years ago when we got back together I had the time of my life, the best year of my life, but it’s quite politically awkward the way it’s set out and it’s difficult because everyone has their own solo careers as it were.

“I think it’s one of those things where we’ll come back together every two or three years and we’ll head back out on the road.”

Well, I for one will certainly look forward to that…

“(laughs) I’ll look out for you then!”

Are you looking forward to the next episode of Hustle? Let us know below…

> Buy the Series 1-7 boxset on Amazon.

Watch BBC One’s new drama trailer…