Ross Kemp's life in drinks

‘I’ve been around enough bodies to know that once you’re dead, you’re dead’: Ross Kemp’s life in drinks

My favourite drink is always the one in my garden when I come home from filming. If I’ve been in a Muslim country, or embedded with the Army in Afghanistan, that first beer is special. It’s not hard to go without a drink for two months in those situations because you’re too busy surviving. You don’t care about alcohol or sex; you just care about seeing the sun come up.

I never drank coffee until I had kids, but as a parent coffee is a necessity [Kemp has three children – Leo, eight, and twins Ava and Kitty, six – with his wife Renee O’Brien and a 12-year-old son with his ex-partner Nicola Coleman]. I can’t drink coffee after midday if I want to sleep at night, though, so in the afternoon I’m a tea drinker. I’m particular about how long the teabag has to be in the cup, how it’s squeezed and how much milk to put in.

I had a sweet tooth as a kid. Young people won’t believe this but as well as the milkman, there was the Lucozade man who would bring fizzy drinks that would rot your teeth in a heartbeat. I don’t eat much sugar now. One of the things I’m most proud of is changing Army ration packs. They used to put a Yorkie bar in your rat pack that turned to liquid in 43-degree heat, and pilchards that are predominantly eyes and tails that you squeeze on to biscuits. I was eating this in Afghanistan where I was filming the series Ross Kemp in Afghanistan for Sky and going, ‘This could be my last meal.’ So when I got back I took it to a committee at the House of Commons, gave it both barrels, and they changed it.

I can never drink Cinzano again. I drank it neat with a girlfriend as a teenager and was sick in a municipal flowerpot in Shenfield, Essex. That flowerpot still exists, and I always think of it as the Cinzano flowerpot. Not only did I throw up in front of that girl, on another occasion I also rolled a car into her father’s house, so that relationship wasn’t destined to last.

I enjoy pinot noir a bit too much. I’m slightly allergic to thicker wines like merlot and cabernet sauvignon: my hands swell up when I drink them. I won’t spend more than about £16 on a bottle, but I do have to shell out a bit because I’m very much about organic wine and low sulphites, and those cost a bit more.

Ross Kemp, pictured, says: ‘m slightly allergic to thicker wines like merlot and cabernet sauvignon’


My parents taught me the power of alcohol at a young age. On Saturday night we’d sit down for dinner and there’d always be wine on the table. I’d be allowed a little bit with some water in it from about 12 or 13. It meant that when I got older, I didn’t go crazy because I knew about alcohol. And it’s a drug, let’s not get away from that fact: one of the most dangerous drugs out there. I probably don’t always treat it with the respect that it’s due, but mostly I do.

Never drink alcohol in a country that doesn’t really want you to drink alcohol. I’ve had some terrible drinks. After getting shot at in Pakistan while reporting on the Taliban for a documentary series called Extreme World, I had a beer with formaldehyde in it, added as a preservative. I’ve also had hooch in various countries, and palm wine made of waste water, which smelt of poo. But if you don’t drink it, you’re not part of the team.

I’m renowned for warbling after I’ve had a few. My karaoke song would probably be ‘L-O-V-E’ by Nat King Cole, but I like a show tune as well.

I don’t care what drink I’m toasted with at my funeral. I’ve been around enough bodies to know that once you’re dead, you’re dead. I just want my family and friends to have a good time, then they can fight over the money I’ve not left them.

Ross Kemp stars in the new thriller Blindspot; all episodes are available on My5

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