For years, soap stars have allowed the creative minds of producers and script writers to come to life. Many stars find success in their first roles, taking centre stage in some of the biggest storylines and therefore securing their roots on the soap.
For some, however, becoming a different character and transferring to the countryside or down under can lead to far more interesting storylines. Here are seven soap stars who made the swap and ultimately found success in their second roles.
1. Ryan Thomas (Jason Grimshaw in Coronation Street and Rafael Humphreys in Neighbours)
In the 16 years that Jason Grimshaw graced the cobbles of Weatherfield, he never found himself at the centre of any hard-hitting storylines. For the builder/businessman, most of the action came from his on/off relationships with numerous women. All well and good, but it always left us wanting more.
When Ryan then arrived in Ramsay Street for a much-publicised guest stint, his character Rafael Humphreys harboured a dark secret. This turned out to be a revenge plot against Paul Robinson, who he blamed for his mother’s death.
The storyline became even juicier when Rafael had a brief relationship with Paul’s son David Tanaka. This coupling was well-received by fans of the show, with many praising Ryan and his co-star Takaya Honda for the intensity of their sex scene.
2. Gemma Atkinson (Lisa Hunter in Hollyoaks and Carly Hope in Emmerdale)
Gemma began her soap career in 2001 as Hollyoaks High teen Lisa Hunter. Her character’s popularity led to a teen bullying storyline, with a young and jealous Steph Dean targeting her. Later storylines, though, focused more on Lisa’s relationships than hard-hitting issues, and Gemma eventually bowed out of the role for good in 2006.
Nine years later, Gemma took on the role of Bob Hope’s second eldest daughter Carly in Emmerdale, and in the two years the character spent in the Dales, Carly became the centre of an infant loss storyline as her tragic past was revealed. Gemma’s portrayal of Carly’s situation raised the issue of Sudden Death Syndrome and the effects it can have on parents even years after the loss.
3. Gemma Bissix (Clare Bates in EastEnders and Clare Devine in Hollyoaks)
Gemma first joined Soapland in 1993 at the age of nine, taking on the role of Clare Bates in EastEnders. But once her days as a child star were over, it was her time in Hollyoaks that really captured everyone’s attention. Gemma became Chester’s villainous Clare Devine, with murder and manipulation always on the mind. If that wasn’t enough, she also abused poor old Tom Cunningham.
After making many enemies in the village, Clare also became the centre of a ‘whodunnit’ storyline when she was attacked by an unknown assailant. This role saw Gemma receive the Villain of the Year award at the British Soap Awards in 2007.
Gemma’s time in Hollyoaks was so successful that EastEnders later lured her back for a second stint as a grown-up Clare Bates. This saw Clare become an East-End gold digger, trying to seduce and con the men of Walford including the likes of Ian Beale, Max Branning and Bradley Branning. Remind you of anyone? *cough* Janine Butcher. But despite those hi-jinks, it’s still her time as Chester’s Clare Devine that will go down in soap history.
4. Catherine Tyldesley (Abi Peterson in Emmerdale and Eva Price in Coronation Street)
Before she became the loud-mouthed and feisty Eva Price in Coronation Street, Catherine enjoyed a brief four-month stint in Emmerdale as prison officer Abi Peterson. During her time in the Dales, Abi had a brief romance with Ryan Lamb while he was an inmate, which ultimately led to the character’s swift exit.
Catherine’s time as Eva, however, was somewhat more dramatic and memorable. Eva’s storylines included several on/off romances, discovering Leanne Battersby was her sister, helping to rescue a slave from her perilous captors, a fountain catfight, and finally getting pregnant and involving herself in a complicated surrogacy double-cross.
5. Nikki Sanderson (Candice Stowe in Coronation Street and Maxine Minniver in Hollyoaks)
In her first soap outing, Nikki took to the cobbles as hairdresser Candice Stowe, who became best friends with Sarah Platt. However, a later move to Hollyoaks saw Nikki take on much darker and more important storylines.
The loveable and quirky Maxine Minniver became the centre of a domestic abuse storyline at the hands of Patrick Blake. After exposing his actions to the village, Maxine went on to give birth to her daughter with Down’s Syndrome, became a suspect in Patrick Blake’s murder and found herself in a chaotic love triangle with Adam Donovan.
6. Zoe Lucker (Vanessa Gold in EastEnders and Reenie McQueen in Hollyoaks)
Vanessa Gold’s time on the Square will be most remembered for her affair with Walford’s very own Casanova, Max Branning. The tables were later turned on the character when Max had an affair with his ex-wife Tanya behind her back – and we’ll never forget Vanessa’s iconic ‘bubbly’s in the fridge’ meltdown.
As Reenie McQueen, however, audiences saw one of Zoe’s most emotional television performances. During the year Zoe appeared on Hollyoaks, her character Reenie had to deal with the fallout of the sexual abuse inflicted on not one, but two of her daughters by her partner Pete. This storyline also led to the revelation that the character had herself been sexually assaulted as a teenager by her mother’s partner, which led to the birth of her eldest daughter, Porsche.
7. Greg Wood (Terry Gibson in Brookside, Rick Neelan in Coronation Street and Trevor Royle in Hollyoaks)
For some stars, it takes a few soap swaps before finally getting the juicier storylines. Starting out as drug dealer Terry Gibson in Brookside, Greg later became a similarly slimy character in Corrie as loan shark Rick Neelan.
However, it wasn’t until he settled into Hollyoaks as hardman Trevor Royle that Greg became involved in bigger and bolder storylines – and although he began as a villainous crook, fans warmed to the bad boy with a heart.
Trevor’s storylines included his turbulent relationship with Grace Black, coming to terms with his son’s cross-dressing, and dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
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