As EastEnders celebrates its 25th anniversary we look back at some of the folk who got their big break in Albert Square…
SEAN MAGUIRE as Aidan Brosnan (1993-1994)
During his time in Albert Square, the Irish footballer romanced Mandy, became homeless and attempted suicide. After his character returned home to Ireland, Sean became a pop star, releasing three albums during the 90s. He appeared in the BBC1 dramas Dangerfield and Sunburn, and more recently ITV1’s Mr Eleven (with Michelle Ryan), comedy Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire and hit movie, Meet The Spartans. A decision has yet to be made on whether there’ll be a second series of Krod.
MICHELLE GAYLE as Hattie Tavernier (1990-1994)
Teenager Hattie moved to Albert Square with the rest of the Tavernier family and went on to work with Ian at The Meal Machine, and fell pregnant with chef Steve’s baby. Michelle quit EastEnders to launch a music career and scored six Top 20 hits during the 90s. Her song Woo (U Make Me) was runner-up in the Eurovision 2008 contest, and this year she will appear on BBC1’s Dancing On Wheels.
NICOLA STAPLETON as Mandy Salter (1992-1994)
The teenage tearaway was at the centre of storylines about homelessness, child and drug abuse during her time in Albert Square. Nicola went on to star in C4’s The Young Person’s Guide To Becoming A Rock Star and as inmate Janine in Bad Girls. More recently she’s guest-starred in Hollyoaks Later and as Eli’s old flame, Danielle in Emmerdale. She recently finished filming Hands Solo, a mockumentary about the world’s most famous Deaf Porn Star!
PAUL NICHOLLS as Joe Wicks (1996-1997)
EastEnders tackled the issue of schizophrenia through the character of Joe Wicks, who first arrived in Albert Square to find his dad, David. Since his days on the soap, Paul has continued to appear on TV in dramas including The Canterbury Tales, A Thing Called Love, Clapham Junction and ITV1’s Harley Street (with Suranne Jones).
MICHELLE COLLINS as Cindy Beale (1988-1998)
The ultimate soap villainess, Cindy had a secret affair with Simon Wicks and plotted to have her own hubby, Ian killed by a hitman! She eventually died in childbirth in prison. Michelle has kept busy since Walford with BBC drama series, Real Women, Sunburn and Two Thousand Acres Of Sky. She also appeared in ITV1’s Rock Rivals and has recently filmed an episode of Marple to be shown later this year.
JOE ABSOLOM as Matthew Rose (1997-1999)
Poor Matthew was wrongly imprisoned for the infamous ashtray murder of Saskia at nightclub, e20. He later returned for revenge against the real killer, Steve Owen. Since EastEnders, Joe has been a regular face on TV in Doc Martin, Vincent, Casualty, New Tricks, Personal Affair and Silent Witness. He also stars in a recently completed film The Story Of, set in the music industry.
TAMZIN OUTHWAITE as Melanie Healy (1998-2002)
Her character Mel famously walked out on Ian just moments after they were married. She eventually fled to Portugal to escape a prison sentence. Red Cap, Hustle, Frances Tuesday, Hotel Babylon, The Fixer and Paradox are among Tamsin’s TV credits since she left EastEnders. She’s currently appearing in stage play Sweet Charity until 7th March.
MICHELLE RYAN as Zoe Slater (2000-2005)
Who can forget the infamous moment when Zoe discovered that her sister, Kat was actually her mum! After leaving EastEnders, Michelle moved to America and landed the lead role in the action series, Bionic Woman. She’s since guest starred in Merlin and Doctor Who, and will next be seen in the drama One Night In Emergency with Grey’s Anatomy star Kevin McKidd.
JESSIE WALLACE as Kat Moon (2000-2005)
The ‘tart with a heart’ enjoyed an on/off romance with Alfie Moon. The pair eventually got hitched and left Walford. Jessie has since played Marie Lloyd in the BBC4 drama Queen Of The Music Hall, competed in Strictly Come Dancing and joined the cast of Wild At Heart. She is currently touring in the play, Stepping Out and appears in the film, Amoc, which is due for release this year.
ROSS KEMP as Grant Mitchell (1990-1999)
The famous Mitchell hardman cheated death on several occasions, married Tiffany and was caught up in the famous ‘Sharongate’ love triangle when he discovered the truth about his brother Phil’s affair with Sharon. Ross went on to star in ITV1’s action series, Ultimate Force. But for the last few years he’s been behind such BAFTA winning documentaries as Ross Kemp on Gangs and Ross Kemp in Afghanistan. He is due to film further documentaries for Sky between now and 2011.
NIGEL HARMAN as Dennis Rickman (2003-2005)
He arrived as the long-lost son of Dirty Den and soon fell in love with his adopted sister, Sharon. After his character was stabbed to death, Nigel appeared in Lark Rise To Candleford, comedy Plus One and the most recent series of Hotel Babylon. Watch out for him in an episode of Marple later this year.