Ross Kemp has revealed that it took him five days to write Dame Barbara Windsor’s eulogy and said the experience was “very tough” for him.
The actor and documentarian, 59, used to play Grant Mitchell in BBC soap EastEnders – son of landlady Peggy Mitchell, played by Dame Barbara.
Dame Barbara died at the age of 83 in 2020 and had been made a dame in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list for her services to charity and entertainment.
Speaking about his new book at Henley Literary Festival on Saturday, Kemp said “One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was write her eulogy – and Scott, her husband, came up he said ‘what you gonna call it?’
“I said ‘I haven’t got a clue’… Anytime Anyplace Anywhere, maybe we call it that or Conversations With Kemp After Three Pints? And he said, ‘no there’s only one thing you can call isn’t there?’ Take Nothing For Granted and I went ‘oh yeah, okay mate’.”
He added: “Barbara’s eulogy was very tough for me and it took me five days to write it and I hope I did her service.
“But I use certain kinds of pens when I’m writing and I keep them out of reach of my children because they get destroyed so I reached up on top of the Welsh dresser in the kitchen to get some pens down, finish writing it and I’m fingering because I can’t reach the top of it and I’m (thinking) ‘what the hell’s that?’
“And it was a piece of card and I brought it down, and remember five days I’ve been sat in the office writing, and it was ‘To my darling Ross, love Barbara.’
“And literally I went ‘wow’. I don’t believe in mumbo jumbo I’ve done enough programmes about witchcraft around the world to think that it’s absolute rubbish, unless you want to believe in it, but there was just a real weird moment in your life and you go ‘you up there?’
“Anyway, I’ve put it back it’s still there. She was an incredible influence on my life…
“We had completely different, opposing political views, she was far more right than I am, but it didn’t matter, because I just loved her. I absolutely adored her and she’s a very, very special person.”
Kemp was speaking at Henley Literary Festival about his new book Take Nothing For Granted: Tales from an Unexpected Life, which traces his life, from a young boy growing up in Essex to a documentarian adventuring in some of the most dangerous places in the world.