Only Fools and Horses

The EastEnders, Only Fools and Horses and Grange Hill stars now living ordinary lives

Some of these actors have forged completely different careers

EastEnders, Only Fools and Horses and Grange Hill are known as three of London’s most famous and loved TV programmes. And whilst for many fans acting in their favourite soap might be their absolute dream, it doesn’t always turn out that way for the actors who actually make it to the shows. Whether they lose their love of acting, or just want to move on to a new part of their life and a new career, countless actors on huge shows have decided to step back from the spotlight and live more ‘normal’ lives.

Whether that’s working in a shop, finding themselves a trade to master, or even setting up their own charities, quite a few have also made huge successes of themselves outside of acting. Others have just picked up jobs in between acting roles, with work especially during the pandemic not always easy to come by.

So if you’ve ever wondered what some of your favourite stars who seemed to disappear from the limelight have been up to, look no further as we’ve picked out some of the most interesting and surprising career changes from Grange Hill, EastEnders, and Only Fools and Horses for you to read about.

Tony Discipline

Tony (left) looks to be loving his career change (Image: Instagram)

In 2020, former EastEnders start Tony Discipline revealed on Instagram that he is now a firefighter with the London Fire Brigade. Tony, 33, played Tyler Moon in the BBC One soap from 2011 to 2013.

He shared a simple Instagram snap with no caption where he posed in firefighter uniform next to a big red LFB fire engine. Some fans thought he might have taken on a new acting role, but Tony later revealed that he had, in fact, joined the fire brigade. Since then the former Walford star has posted plenty more snaps of himself in uniform and late last year welcomed his first child to his family, a daughter named Penelope.

Patrick Murray

Patrick was reunited in 2018 on Loose Women with the late John Challis, who played Boycie (Image: ITV)

Patrick Murray, who played Mickey Pearce in Only Fools and Horses, has been out of the spotlight for many years with his family in Thailand. He revealed on a 2018 episode of Loose Women that he had lived in Thailand for 10 years, meeting his wife and having a daughter, but he didn’t see either of them for two years while he worked to get them a visa to live in the UK.

Patrick, now 65, had taken a break from acting and had to find another job to prove he could support his family if they came to the UK. He said on Loose Women: “I went to Thailand and I didn’t come back for 10 years. I met my wife Josie and we’ve been together for four years. But I wanted her to be educated over here.

“I wanted to get her a visa but it was hard so I had to come back here. Being out of the industry for so long, the work dried up so I went back to driving an executive car, a Mercedes, to do it. I only saw my baby on the phone for two years, I was a Skype dad.”

Thankfully, Patrick’s hard work paid off and the family were reunited in the UK. He has since revealed he’s been fighting lung cancer in a series of tweets earlier this year, though thankfully a tumour in his lung was caught early and removed. He wrote: “Thanks to my ultrascan I have a fighting chance. It showed my organs needed further investigation and tumours were spotted. This led to a PET scan which covers a much larger area.

“To my wonderful surprise these lesions were not cancerous but the scan did find an early-stage cancerous tumour in my lung. This has since been removed. A lot of people put these symptoms down to age and the discomfort to simply having a weak stomach. Please don’t ignore it if it persists. As for me, and thanks to the NHS, I can now see the same beautiful horizon as you.”

Michelle Herbert

Michelle Herbert as Trisha Yates in Grange Hill (Image: BBC One)

Michelle Herbert, now 56, is best known for playing fiercely independent and boisterous Trisha Yates on Grange Hill. However, since the 1990s, she has lived in Dundee with her family where they run a double glazing business, All Glass and Glazing.

In 2015 she had to have a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer, but has since been given the all clear.

Katie Jarvis

Since appearing as Hayley Slater, Katie Jarvis has worked a number of roles between acting gigs including as security at B&M Bargains (Image: BBC)

Hayley Slater, cousin of Kat, appeared on EastEnders in 2018 and 2019 played by Katie Jarvis. After her run on the soap Katie Jarvis, now 30, revealed that she was working in B&M Bargains as a security guard, in their Romford store.

She insisted that she had always worked ‘normal’ jobs alongside acting such as working on a doughnut stand and as a waitress. “That’s the life of an actor – I like to be busy and learn new things,” Jarvis said on the Victoria Derbyshire show in 2019.

“As long as you’re working, that’s all that matters, no-one should be shamed for what they do. Security guards put themselves at risk, there’s a lot goes into it.” Katie is also set to star in the upcoming film Rise of the Footsoldier Origins.

Tom Watt

After leaving to forge a career in sports journalism that took him all the way to ghostwriting David Beckham’s biography, Tom Watt returned to Albert Square as Lofty Holloway in 2019 (Image: BBC)

Tom Watt, now 66, is one of the original EastEnders’ actors, playing Lofty Holloway from the start of the soap in 1985 until April 1988. Since his departure from the show, he had various acting roles such as a minor part in 1992 movie Patriot Games, and Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movie.

He also played various other TV roles including Space Precinct (1995), Happy Birthday Shakespeare (2000), TLC (2002), Doctors (2009) and New Tricks in 2010. However, he also went on to become a successful sports journalist, working for talkSPORT, BT Sport and BBC Radio 5 Live.

He was a ghostwriter for David Beckham’s autobiography in 2003, has authored several other books and is now a writer and consultant for EA Sports.

Donald Waugh

After his run on Grange Hill, Joseph ‘Hughesy’ Hughes actor Donald Waugh had a successful stage career, including performing in the original West End cast of Cats. He then went on to work in a range of creative industries before a battle with alcoholism left him homeless. He lived on the streets for several years.

Happily, he is now back on his feet. He founded his charity, Pavement2Catwalk, to use creativity to help those struggling with homelessness, addiction, and mental health, or living with a disability.

Hetti Bywater

Hetti (on the right) is now fundraising for an epic adventure for charity (Image: Instagram)

Hetti Bywater, 27, played Lucy Beale from 2012 until she was murdered in 2014, sparking the hugely dramatic whodunnit storyline ‘Who Killed Lucy Beale?’ which ran until the killer was revealed to be her younger brother Bobby. She’s since been in one episode of Death in Paradise, and had a role in Sky One series Delicious, but was spotted working behind the bar in an Islington pub in 2017.

This year she’s setting off on a 20,000km fundraising drive, as she and a friend self-dubbed as the Blonde Bush Bashers, are looking to travel that mammoth distance in just five weeks, through 30 countries in a tiny one litre car, “all in the name of mother nature, mental health research, and adventure.” You can follow her journey or sponsor the pair here.

Charlie Clements

Charlie most recently starred as Sergeant Trotter in West End show The Mousetrap (Image: Instagram)

Charlie Clements is best known for playing Bradley Branning on EastEnders from 2006 to 2010, when he was killed off by falling from the roof of the Queen Vic on the show’s 25th anniversary. The 34-year-old revealed last year on Instagram that he had been working as a chef during lockdown to make ends meet, before joining the cast of the Mousetrap on the West End.

Lee MacDonald

Lee McDonald played Zammo in Grange Hill, and in 2019 also appeared in EastEnders as Terry, taking time out of his day job as a locksmith (Image: BBC)

Zammo had arguably one of the most memorable plotlines in Grange Hill – a battle with heroin addiction. Actor Lee MacDonald was on the show for six years, and later made cameo appearances in the likes of Birds of a Feather, The Bill and a television version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He has now worked for many years as a locksmith in Wallington, Sutton.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button