Martin Kemp has said that his role in EastEnders was "the thing that helped me recover, more than anything else" after he received a brain tumour diagnosis.

The Spandau Ballet bassist, now 61, starred as Steve Owen in the BBC One soap opera between 1998 and 2002.

Speaking on the Dish podcast with Nick Grimshaw and Angela Hartnett, Kemp spoke candidly about how EastEnders helped his road to recovery.

"When EastEnders was offered to me, it was like, everybody around me was saying, 'Don't do it, don’t do it. It’s going to ruin your career, don’t do it’", he said.

"Well, because they hadn’t had any name actors in that show before, right?

Nick Grimshaw

"Everybody had grown up with EastEnders, so I was kind of the first one of those name actors to go in.

"But when it was offered to me, it was only really about five years after I had gone through the whole brain tumour business, that I went through in the nineties, about 95, and so for me, I was struggling to get myself together and my brain wasn’t working properly still from the operation.

"To the point where sometimes if I wanted to walk left, I would walk right, or like I couldn’t think about putting things in order, or anything like that. Learning lines was just way out there.

Martin Kemp

"When EastEnders was offered to me it was a chance for me to get over it, so it wasn’t just me taking EastEnders on because I thought yeah, it was a good gig – it was me trying to get my life back together.

"I honestly didn’t even know if I could remember the lines because my brain was so messed up from it. So, when I look back at EastEnders, it’s more than just, it was a good job.

"It was the thing that helped me recover, more than anything else. It moved me forward and left that whole nightmare behind."

Kemp was diagnosed with two brain tumours in 1995 and underwent an operation and radiotherapy to treat the disease before landing his role as one of Albert Square’s most memorable villains.

Source: Press Association