INTERVIEW By Hilary Porter

NEW Wave hero Marin Kemp has proven he has many strings to his bow since his 1980's Spandau Ballet heyday.

Whether it's his leading role in the film The Krays, his part as Steve Owen in East Enders , his time as talent judge on BBC 1' s Let It Shine or stage roles like The Child Catcher in Chitty, Chitty, Bang Bang, Martin, to quote one of Spandau's greatest hits, turns everything to 'Gold'!

Now he’s back treading the boards starring as 'Father of rock n roll' Sam Phillips in the autumn tour of Million Dollar Quartet which visits Chichester Festival Theatre from 7 – 11 November

Million Dollar Quartet is based around the famed recording session with Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, at Sun Studios, in Memphis, in 1956 and Martin told me he feels very much at home in this role.

"I play studio owner Sam Phillips. I’ve actually dreamt about being there as a fly on the wall, and now I am! I did it for the first time last Christmas at the Royal Festival Hall and loved it. It took me so long to learn the lines so I thought I better had do it again. It's such a good fun show and it's nice doing anything.

"I love doing live shows because it tests you and gets your adrenaline running every night which is really nice.

This part is really good because I'm standing in front of a live band which is something that I've grown up with and I'm with great musicians. It's got lots of elements of my hobbies and things I love doing."

Martin, 56, rose to fame as the bassist with Spandau Ballet, with over 25 million records sold worldwide, and a string of no.1 hits including True, Gold and Through the Barricades. They enjoyed phenomenal success so I wondered just what aspect of his career he enjoys most.

"I like doing a bit of everything. You get pleasure from variety and I love it all. To me it's all in the same bag. I like to think everything I do is just entertainment all rolled into one big bubble. It's like I'm using different mediums to paint, whether that is in oils or water colours, it's all art in a way like many things."

But what does he class himself as? What does it state as his occupation on his passport? Martin laughs and says "I'm a Nomad, that's what I am!" .

"I was a child actor . I was at drama club at nine years old and doing parts in 1970's TV programmes like Dixon of Dock Green and Play for Today. So being in a band was just an extension of what I'd been in. In Play for Today I played the part of someone in a rock band. That's why we were so successful because me and my brother grew up in TV.

"It did stand me in good stead. My mum put me in drama club to get rid of my shyness and in a way it was a bit of luck ."

So what particularly attracted him to this part?

"Sam Phillips to me is very much like Malcolm McClaren. He was at the sharp end of music in 1976; he took all that was going on in the pub rock scene and turned it into punk rock, while Sam Phillips took blues and added elements of guitar . He didn't invent rock n roll but he pushed it over the cliff .Without Sam Phillips leading the way with rock n roll I probably wouldn't have done what I've done."

Has he a favourite artist in the show?

"I love it all. I love Johnny Cash and I love Elvis, and Carl Perkins' song writing, and Jerry Lee Lewis was the best piano player I ever heard. "

So is he bitten by the stage-acting bug? Will there be more theatre roles? Martin chuckles again:

"Yes I'm doing Peter Pan at Christmas!It's a huge event at the NEC and SSE Arena in Wembley. It's one of those enormous events like Batman was in the arenas. It’ll be an extravaganza with galleons and waterfalls, I'm playing Hook which will be a lot of fun. My kids have left home now so Christmas is a quiet event now and being part of that will be good."

Southampton Mayflower audiences will remember Martin as the Child Catcher in Chitty. Does he enjoy playing the baddie?

"I enjoy playing anything as they all have their challenges. Sometimes playing the nice guy is harder. The bad guy have all their ticks and mannerisms and you can have fun with them."

I ventured to ask what was planned with Spandau Ballet who recently parted company with lead singer Tony Hadley but I got short changed on that:

"Can we skip that...I want to talk about Million Dollar Quartet."

So I ask the handsome Silver Fox what's the secret of his longevity?

"I don't know. I think maybe because I keep doing different stuff, that's how you create longevity. If you keep doing the same stuff people will have seen it before and you mustn't be frightened to move on. For me I've reached a point where I only take on things I get fun out of. Of course everything has it's ups and down though."

Martin was a judge on the TV show Let it Shine in which Gary Barlow put together the boy band that stars in the Take That stage musical 'The Band' which comes to Southampton later this month.

"I haven't seen it yet as I've been so busy. It's getting such incredible reviews and I'm so proud of the kids that are doing it. I think it will have a long life -as will the kids in it."

As for Martin's future plans he says:"My hopes are to just keep enjoying myself in what I am doing."

He was particularly looking forward to returning to the area: "My mum and dad use to live in Poole and I use to come down a lot. I love the South Coast and I'm really looking forward to spending time there."