Ross Kemp: ‘A pub is a really special place to go’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Teaming up: Ross Kemp has joined forces with Heineken on its SmartDispense campaign
Teaming up: Ross Kemp has joined forces with Heineken on its SmartDispense campaign

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Actor, journalist and documentary maker Ross Kemp has revealed how he spent a lot of his life in the pub trade.

Following Kemp teaming up with Heineken UK around its SmartDispense system, The Morning Advertiser ​discussed his thoughts on the on-trade.

He said: “My relationship with pubs has changed as I've grown and, as I've had children, I'm very lucky that, close to me, I have a great pub in the village with swings and playground area, which is walled off so the kids can go in there and they are safe.

“It’s somewhere you can be yourself, you can be made to feel welcome, it's a safe place for me.

“The pub I generally drink in is particularly good for the family but I can also go in there with my mates and have a pint, it works on lots of different levels for me.

“The great thing about a pub is it is classless, some might be a bit rougher than others, some a bit posher than others but ultimately, beer levels everybody.

“A pub is a really special place to go. Whether that's with friends or on your own. I can go into my local on my own and be in a conversation within three or four minutes of walking in.”

In fact, while Kemp now regularly visits his local, the sector was part of his life growing up too.

Pub history

“I have worked, apart from as the mythical character of Grant Mitchell, also as Ross Kemp – I've worked behind the bar,” he said.

“I lived in a pub when I was a child. It was called the Denmark then, it's called something else now and I lived in a pub called the Running Horse in Davies Street, just off Oxford Street.

“I've worked behind bars, worked in pubs and I know just how important they are to certain elements of society that are often lonely.”

He said: “We know pubs are under threat, it's great Heineken is investing millions of pounds​ in pubs. They are very much about being British, a wine bar is not a pub. The campaign, which has been named Ross Kemp Behind Bars​, has been following the actor and documentary maker, visiting pubs across the nation.

It launched last month (May) and kicked off with the start of a video series, showing Kemp’s travels in the on-trade.

“One of the ladies I interviewed had worked behind the bar for 40 years and she was saying it was probably the only thing some people had in their lives outside of the TV because they have lost loved ones, their family has moved and so the pub community was the only community where they can have a conversation,” he added.

“That's something we should hold on to. It's really important, it's part of our culture.

“It isn't necessarily about boozing, it's about drinking in moderation but it's a great place to unwind, to have fun, watch sport, it can be a place to meet people for the first time if you're single.”

Kemp highlighted how he enjoyed filming the video series, meeting people from all over the country.

Beer quality

He said: “It was a lot of fun, going into pubs, meeting people and having a laugh. A lot easier than my last job, which was doing the history of the mafia!”

As part of the campaign, licensees who sign up to install a SmartDispense draught system in June and July will be entered into a prize draw where they’ll be in with a chance of winning a visit from the film-maker.

Kemp said: “If you sign up to install SmartDispense between now and July, the outlet will be entered into a prize draw where whoever wins it, has me in their pub, aren't they lucky!”

Research from Heineken showed 60% of Brits admitted having left a pub after one drink because they were unsatisfied with the quality of their drink.

Meanwhile, more than one in 10 (12%) claimed they wouldn’t finish a bad pint and would leave.

On the campaign launch, Heineken UK on-trade director Will Rice said: “The pint is at the heart of the British pub experience – it’s that moment where a perfect pour, a clean branded glass and just the right amount of fizz come together.

“With Heineken SmartDispense, we’re on a mission to ensure every pint is perfection, changing the game, ensuring every sip is as perfect as the last.

“We wanted to lift the lid on the tech behind these pints and who better to help us than one of Britain’s most famous landlords.”

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