The life of an actor can be very unstable. One minute walking red carpets and earning big money, the next a cancelled show or a contract comes to an end and no wages coming in.
So it was perhaps no surprise to see Eastenders’ Adam Woodywatt working behind a stall at a food festival earlier this week, after developing a new career in cooking since leaving the show after 36 years in 2021.
Despite the show leaving the door open for his to turn, fans of Ian Beale may have a wait on their hands, with the actor hinting that he has no plans to return to the Square.
His one-time co-star Charlie Clements also dabbled in the culinary world, revealing that he took a job as chef in a garden centre during the pandemic – moving to the plant section when the cafe closed due to lockdown restrictions.
The father-of-two previously told Loose Women that he’s a jobbing actor, and that there’s no shame in trying out a different industry between roles to provide for his family.
Meanwhile, Hollyoaks star Gemma Merna has avoided the traditional route of reality shows after soap stardom. Aside from an appearance on diving show Splash! she’s focused on her career as a yoga teacher.
Here, FEMAIL reveals the soap stars who have embraced different careers after their stint in the nation’s favourite shows ended.
Adam, who played Ian Beale on Eastenders from its first episode in 1985 and was there for 36 years
Now a days Adam works on food stalls at festivals across the country and this week was spotted selling vegan food at a festival in Cheshire
This week Adam, who played Ian Beale on Eastenders, was spotted selling vegan food at a festival in Cheshire. The actor, 54, was helping to run a plant-based street food trailer with catering company Kilty & Co.
He wore a green branded T-shirt, a wide brimmed camouflage hat and a microphone so he could address the crowd. It’s not the first time Adam has been seen serving up food to customers since leaving the popular BBC soap.
He was spotted selling Cajun wedges and kedgeree at Pub In The Park in Wimbledon earlier this year. And was seen working in a food stall in Marlow in 2021, telling customers he was ‘getting paid in burgers’.
Adam was on Eastenders from its very first episode in 1985 and was the longest-serving member of the cast of EastEnders when he stepped back from the role in November 2020.
His character has not been killed off, and the route has remained open for him to return.
Howeverm he has hinted that he has quit for good, previously telling Steph McGovern: ‘I’ve kind of left, but not left. It’s kind of the way the storyline has gone, I’m not there.
‘I could go back and I could not go back! I don’t know. The speculation has been hysterical.
‘I think everyone is always going to speculate. But there are no plans at the moment.’
Recently Adam slammed EastEnders bosses, claiming they shouldn’t have turned his character Ian Beale into a ‘sociopath’.
The actor, admitted the businessman was ‘very unpopular’ with viewers due to his ‘forthright’ and ‘quite rude’ ways, going so far as to say he was a ‘narcissist’.
Having played the role since its first ever episode in 1985, he quit the BBC soap last year and has now said producers should have ‘gone in a different direction’.
Despite being introduced as ‘a spotty, teenage kid who got bullied at school’, Ian’s downfall came after splitting from his wife Jane (Laurie Brett) for good in 2020.
Adam told Kate Thornton on her White Wine Question Time podcast: ‘The character evolved. If you think back in the 80s, he was a spotty, teenage kid. He was getting bullied at school, his dad wanted him to do boxing.’
‘It’s been a very, very long journey. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t always think that some of the changes were right.
‘Maybe they should’ve chosen other directions to go but they weren’t my decisions. They were stuff the bosses chose.
‘Did it make Ian unpopular? Yeah, at times. He was quite forthright and quite rude to everyone, even people he loved.’
Charlie Clements played Bradley Branning in EastEnders between 2006 and 2010. He left the soap in 2009 and his character died
Charlie continued acting after leaving the popular soap while also working as a chef, and posting lots if food photos on his Instagram account over the years
Charlie, 35, starred as Bradley Branning in Eastenders, winning multiple awards between 2006 and 2010 for his role as Max Branning’s downtrodden son.
His character was killed off during the EastEnders live 25th anniversary episode on 19 February 2010.
At the time he commented that it was ‘time to move on and take on some new roles’.
Soon after EastEnders he played the part of David Filde in a touring production of The Haunting. And in 2012 he played the role of Mick in Meredish Oakes’ controversial play Faith at the Courtyard Theatre in Hoxton, London.
In 2020 he started posting photos on his Instagram with hashtags chef and the acting chef.
He later told Loose Women he’d been working in a garden centre, both in the kitchen as a chef, and in the plant section, when acting work dried up during lockdown.
‘Working there has increased my knowledge of everything plant related. The acting stopped for everybody, it was way to support my family. At end of the day, I’ve never been afraid of work,’ he said.
‘I’ve never been work shy and it does get picked up by the media.
‘There’s the mentality that if you had a job in the public eye, you can’t get a normal job. I’m a jobbing actor and I have to support my family.’
Explaining he had been furloughed during the UK’s first lockdown not long after picking up work in a kitchen, he said: ‘I just did home-schooling with the kids and my wife. We tried to have fun with the kids.’
In April 2021 he posted a photo of himself as a chef, but captioned the pic: ‘Last day as a chef today! Onto rehearsals next week.’
It’s not clear which production he was auditioning for, but he appeared in The Mousetrap in April 2021 in London’s West End.
Adam Rickitt played Nick Tilsley in Coronation Street between 1997 and 2004 and became a teen pinup, garnering millions of teen fans
Adam and his wife Katy, a Good Morning Britain presenter, bought a popular craft beer bottle shop, gin specialist and micro bar called Dexter and Jones in Knutsford in 2020
As Nick Tilsley in Coronation Street, Adam was very popular and became one of the country’s teen pinups.
He played the character between 1997 and 2004, and during that time he signed a six-album deal with Polydor and released a album – Good Times – in 1999. ‘I Breathe Again’, reached number five in the UK charts.
Adam, 44, went on to star in New Zealand’s soap opera Shortland Street and became well knows as Kyle Kelly in Hollyoaks for some time but when he left the soap in 2020 he bought a popular craft beer bottle shop, gin specialist and micro bar called Dexter and Jones, in Knutsford.
He and his wife Katy, a Good Morning Britain presenter, bought the place and relied on it solely for their income during the early days of the pandemic.
That summer he was banned from the roads for drink driving when he was stopped by police for driving without his lights. The Sun reported his solicitors in court saying: ‘He’s found the whole process very upsetting and takes full responsibility for his actions.
‘He owns a bar and had had a difficult day, he’s put most of his savings (into the bar) and spent some time getting it up and running only for Covid to hit and caused a strain.
‘He is also known as an actor but that work ended for him in March and there is no acting work at the moment because of the situation with Covid. That work has all but dried up for him and he is relying solely on his bar to keep him afloat.
‘He’s only receiving £1,000 a month, a modest income and anything he does have is going back into the bar. He offers a takeaway service so he’s doing everything he can to work on that for him and his family.”
Tony played Tyler Moon, cousin to Alfie Moon (Shane Richie), in EastEnders until 2013 and his character fell hard for long running character Whitney Dean
After finishing on the soap Tony went to Hollywood for some time but then returned and he trained as a London firefighter
As EastEnders’ Tyler Moon, cousin to Alfie Moon (Shane Richie), and filmed many scenes with long-running character Whitney Dean, he created a huge fan base, but Tony, 33, refused to let fame go to his head.
After he quit the show in 2013 he became a firefighter he told Inside Soap magazine: ‘When it was time to leave the show, I didn’t want to go — however, there were no more storylines for Tyler.’
He went to Hollywood for some time but then returned and he trained as a London firefighter. He has tackled a fire in a block of flats, at a bakery and a waste disposal plant.
The actor applied for the job in 2019 and said the idea of becoming a firefighter appealed to him because he could help the community and be part of something he was ‘proud of’, but said it is ‘quite dangerous’.
He said: ‘You have to put food on the table,’ he told the Soap on the Box podcast. ‘One of my friends was in the service and told me they were recruiting. So, I applied and I got in – I was very fortunate.
Now when fans see him they think he’s still filming. He once said: ‘I was walking back to the fire truck and someone walked past and said: ‘oh my God, what are you filming?’ Tony replied: ‘I said: ‘no, I’m a firefighter. There have been a few occasions like that.’
Tony, who was working at Billingsgate Fish Market when he landed the part of Alfie Moon’s cousin, joked: ‘I always knew the attention was because of the show, when I was down the fish market I wasn’t getting that attention.’
‘When I got the call for EastEnders, it was like winning the lottery. I was working at Billingsgate Fish Market in the day and going to acting classes at night, it was so surreal to go from selling sea bass to being stopped in the street and asked for a picture.’
Adam played Adam Barton in Emmerdale from 2011 to 2018 after seven exciting years on the soap
After quitting the soap, Adam saw the need to work and got a job as an estate agent in Manchester, before buying a bar in Gatley with a friend in 2019
Adam played Adam Barton in Emmerdale from 2011 to 2018 after seven exciting years on the soap.
After quitting the soap, Adam, 33, saw the need to work and got a job as an estate agent in Manchester. In an Instagram post back in 2018, he revealed: ‘I haven’t, nor will I ever, turn my back on acting but I have a family to support and will carry on doing so…whether it be acting or otherwise.’
Adam launched his first bar, The Spinn, in Gatley, in 2019, with his friend Scott Graham. But only six months later they were broken when the national lockdown forced hospitality to shut down.
Adam began launching other food ventures and enjoyed success with summer pop up Box on the Docks. Another eatery, Oh My Glaze, specialise in sticky chicken wings, burgers and wraps.
And last month things looked up when he also bought his second bar in Stockport. Adam posted photos on Instagram of the yellow bar on the Underbanks with a message saying: ‘We finally opened ours doors in little under bank in Stockport!
Ryan’s played Jason Grimshaw in Coronation Street for 16 years and became a much loved house-hold name
After quitting the soap in 2016 he went on Neighbours but these days he’s been helping out his brother, Emmerdale star Adam (above), who runs a bar and burger bar
Ryan’s character Jason Grimshaw in Coronation Street was a house-hold name. He played the character for 16 years and was involved in some of the soap’s most famous storylines.
After quitting in 2016, he joined Neighbours as Rafael Humphreys, but revealed that he’d given up on acting after ‘losing the bug’.
Ryan said he found it ‘really hard’ being criticised for his performances and has no intention to act again. He added that he struggled with the criticism from Australian viewers when he appeared on Neighbours in 2018 as Rafael Humphreys.
Speaking on the popular Mancs On The Mic show with his brothers Adam and Scott recently, Ryan, 38, explained his decision: ‘It’s so hard for me. I started off acting, I started off in that game and I really lost the bug for it.’
‘I always think, ‘Oh, it’ll [the desire to act] come back at some point and maybe it will and it’s still something that I have in my locker if I want to explore it again. Right now I’m really happy with the direction I’m going.’
He’s since been helping out his brother, Emmerdale star Adam (above), who runs a bar and burger bar.
One night he told fans on his Instagram he was bringing food to customers of the burger joint, and suggested they should put in their orders for a chance for him to be their delivery driver.
He said he originally came to the restaurant to enjoy his own burger, which he ate in his car as he ‘couldn’t wait to get home plus no TV in the new house.’
But it seemed not long after his meal that Ryan was asked to chip in and help the busy staff, as he then joked: ‘Came in for a burger now I’m doing deliveries.’
He posed with his back to the camera to show off his hoodie from the restaurant while carrying a number of packaged orders that were ready to go.
Ryan then hopped into his car and said he was ‘en route’ to fans, before filming himself delivering the order to ‘another happy customer.’
Back in his car, Ryan said in a short video: ‘I’m just waiting outside The Spinn to pick up my next delivery. Make the call, you know you want to. I might be coming to a home near you.’
He posted a photo of him wrapped up in the dark, delivering burgers saying: ‘Waiting for my next delivery #thespinn_’
Kate played Kat Slater’s boisterous cousin Hayley Slater in EastEnders for a year until February 2019
Eastenders actress Katie Jarvis who played Hayley Slater in the soap has now got a new job after being released from the soap. She is working for B&M budget stores as a security guard She is pictured on a break outside the store in Essex in 2019
Kate played Kat Slater’s boisterous cousin Hayley Slater in EastEnders for a year until February 2019.
In October 2019, Kate, 31, began working on the door at her local B&M store, in Romford, East London, and looking after her two children.
At the time newspapers wrote negatively about her working as a security guard, and many fellow celebrities said she was ‘job shamed’ by the press. They showed their support by sharing their ‘regular’ jobs on social media.
She said at the time: ‘I’ve taken a step back from acting. I’ve got a job and I’m looking after my kids.’
She went on to appear on Victoria Derbyshire’s BBC show, followed by an interview with Grazia magazine, to admit she had felt ‘hurt and embarrassed’ for being ‘made to feel ashamed for having a normal job’.
She added that she was proud to speak out on behalf of hard-working single mums because providing for her family is paramount to her.
Jarvis said: ‘It’s the nature of being an actor; gigs come and go, and after my contract with EastEnders ended in February, I found a new job as soon as I could. Doing work like this is also what keeps me grounded.’
Dagenham-born Jarvis revealed she ‘crumbled’ and was left in tears after a friend alerted her to the front page news.
But upon reflection and thanks to the support of fellow thespians from Tamzin Outwaite to Nathalie Emmanuel, she is ‘proud’ to have changed the conversation.
‘Their support gave me the strength to speak out and stand up for hard-working people – especially single mums’, she said, and insisted her priority in life is caring for her two children, saying: ‘As long as I’m providing for them, nothing else matters. Everything I do is for them.’
She said she is proud to take on any work she can to ‘keep busy and learn new things’.
Jarvis pointed that ‘all actors go through it over the years, I’ve had so many jobs in between and not just being a security guard.’
‘At 17 when I got [first movie role] Fish Tank I was doing doughnuts with my uncle at the time at festivals and things like that so I’d go on there and do the food carts,’ she said. ‘I’ve been a waitress, I’ve worked at a credit card company, I’ve done admin, I’ve done all types of things.’
Jarvis added that when she first saw the photos of herself she felt ashamed but is now proud that she’s doing all she can to provide for her family.
‘One of my sisters she calls me a dabbler because I seem to do a bit of everything and I like to be busy and I like to learn new things, it doesn’t matter what it is.’
Sean was on Coronation Street as Martin Platt for 20 years and had some fabulous story lines along side Gail. He quit in 2005
After quitting the soap Sean, 57, became a chef, and after meeting Susie Fenwick and the pair set up a cheese-making business called the Saddleworth Cheese Company
Sean was on Coronation Street as Martin Platt for 20 years. After quitting in 2005, he subsequently appeared in several other UK television dramas, including an appearance in Waterloo Road.
Sean, 57, then became a chef, and after meeting Susie Fenwick and the pair set up a cheese-making business called the Saddleworth Cheese Company.
He told ITV’s Lorraine: ‘We have 46 international and national cheese awards since 2009. Anybody that knows me knows I’m a big cook,’ he said.
‘I became really interested in the science of foods back in the 80s when it wasn’t fashionable, and then in 2005 I went to work at a Michelin star restaurant after leaving Coronation Street.
In 2012, he even published The Great Northern Cookbook and secured a four-part Channel 5 TV series. He’s also cooked in several Michelin-starred restaurants
In 2018, Sean announced he was returning to Reaseheath College to become a lecturer in cheese. He said: ‘I’ll be returning to the class where it all started 10 years ago, as the lecturer.’
Sean appeared back on Coronation Street briefly in 2018 and he told ITV’s Lorraine: ‘I went to the butchers the day before filming and he said, ‘How are you gonna feel? Are you nervous?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know’, but everyone kept asking me and making me nervous!’
‘I walked into the building and when I arrived it was all the same people on the set. The first scene is with Jack [P Shepherd], and the first on-set take they said ‘Thank you very much,’ it was like rolling back the years.
‘It felt like just putting on an old jumper. Everybody made me feel really welcome, I make it sound easy-going but it was really nice.’
Gemma, 38, played Carmen McQueen in Hollyoaks for eight years from 2006 until 2014, winning awards for her comedic performances
After departing Hollyoaks, Gemma committed to her fitness career and went on to work as a yoga instructor and personal trainer
Gemma, 38, played Carmen McQueen in Hollyoaks for eight years from 2006 until 2014.
And in 2007, she even won Best Comedy Performance at the British Soap Awards.
The year she left she was a contestant on the ITV diving show Splash!, fronted by Tom Daley.
But after departing Hollyoaks, Gemma committed to her fitness career and went on to work as a yoga instructor and personal trainer. On her Instagram page, with 120k followers, she calls herself an accredited Mind & Wellness Coach, and always posts photos of her yoga or fitness.
Gemma said she had always planned to give up acting and retrain as a yoga teacher in Morocco and finally took the plunge in 2015 after being persuaded by a friend.
Speaking to Digital Spy, Gemma explained: ‘Yoga is my life at the moment, so it doesn’t ever feel like something I’m ‘falling back on’. I do it day to day, but then if another [acting] job comes in and it suits me, it’s all quite flexible.
‘When people first come into the room for one of my classes, they may see me as ‘Gemma from Hollyoaks’. But by the time they leave, I’m just “Gemma the yoga teacher” and they’ve had a great class.
‘I’m very tough in my classes – nobody gets away with anything! So when they’re in the room, they need to focus on their breathing and just do the class.’
In March 2016, Gemma helped to keep Liverpool Yoga Studios open up for 24 hours when she volunteered to teach drop-in classes to raise money for Sport Relief.
In 1983 Nigel was cast in Coronation Street as Terry Duckworth and was back and forth for decades
In 2006 he completed a NTCJ Post Graduate course and became a Journalist and worked for the Manchester Evening News before going freelance and writing for the nationals
In 1983 Nigel was cast in Coronation Street as Terry Duckworth, son of the famous and much-loved characters Jack and Vera.
He left in 1987 but returned to the show on a recurring basis in the 1990s and early 2000s. And returned again in 2012 for a major storyline involving his estranged son Tommy.
But in 1999 he returned to education at Salford University and graduated in 2003 with a 2:1 Honours degree in Contemporary Military and International History. In 2006, he graduated from the University of Wales in Aberystwyth with an MSc in Social Science and Economics while also completing a NTCJ Post Graduate course and became a Journalist.
Nigel, 62, worked for the Manchester Evening News and then the Tameside Reporter in Stalybridge before going freelance and since has written for the Daily Star, Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror.
Soap actors who now have normal jobs