Former soap star Ross Kemp has admitted that he harbours regrets about leaving EastEnders.

He played hard man Grant Mitchell in the BBC soap for nine years, but subsequently carved a new career hosting gritty documentary series such as Ross Kemp on Gangs.

In an interview with The Mirror, Kemp conceded: “I'm still happy doing what I do, but the older you get the less you want to be taking risks. There have been a few moments where I've thought, 'Why did I ever leave EastEnders?'

Kemp turns 50 in July and feels it. “I'm already pushing my body to the limit,” he said. “I'm not going to be able to do this in a few years' time. So maybe the comfy chair is beckoning.

“I've decided I want to be that boring old man who sits in the corner. At least I'll have some good stories to tell.”

Kemp added that spending prolonged periods of time away from his family while filming in some of the world’s most dangerous places is less than ideal.

"It's always hard saying goodbye to my wife,” he said. “I try to be upbeat and tell her I'll see her in a month or six weeks, even though you know the dangers. You just have to do that.

“I miss my family dreadfully while I'm away. They have voiced their concerns, but they understand that's how I pay the bills and how fortunate I am to do something I am passionate about. They accept these things run their course and I won't be doing this for ever.”