Usually, you either get actors who have appeared in soap operas that then follow it up one of two ways. Either they spend a little bit of time in soap land and go on to do other things before enough time has passed for them to get typecast, or they decide to stay in their soap, and risk getting typecast forever, ending up as “Barry from Extras”.
But then there’s that rare third option when an actor swans into a different direction; deciding to walk away from acting to do something you never expected.
And this list is about those actors who, whether by design or accident, have gone on to do something completely different.
Former Emmerdale actors who have had a massive career change:
6.Ursula Holden-Gill (Alice Dingle)
It was one of the most devastating soap storylines ever, and it ended in tragic fashion when Alice Dingle, played by Ursula Holden-Gill, left fans traumatised upon being diagnosed with life-threatening cancer.
The sweet Alice was married to Sam Dingle during her short-lived stay in the village from 2004 until 2006, and sadly as it transpired, their happiness was just as brief as her stay.
As the powerful storyline progressed and as Alice’s cancer increasingly ravaged her body, Sam had to make the hardest decision with which anyone could ever be faced, and he helped his wife put an end to her life.
In her final scene, as husband Sam and his toddler son Samson said their tearful goodbyes, Alice took an overdose of morphine and gently slipped away.
It was one of the most heart-wrenching storylines in soap history, as fans across the nation were left in tears, but for the actress behind the character, huge things seemed destined for her future.
Instead of capitalising on her nomination at the National Television Awards that year, she instead took a completely different career turn, and it came as a shock to everybody that upon her character’s death in Coronation Street, the actress left the limelight completely.
She decided to become an author and a storyteller.Along with her work in the world of literature, the former actress also runs workshops for aspiring writers.
Her Twitter bio now reads: “Award Winning Storyteller, Performer, Educator & Writer.”
5.Kelvin Fletcher (Andy Sugden)
Kelvin Fletcher spent 20 years playing groundskeeper and farmer Andy Sudgen in Emmerdale. He played the character from 1996 until 2016, when Andy went on the run after being framed by his girlfriend (played by Chrissie White) for the attempted murder of his adopted father Lawrence White (played by John Bowe).
And after Kelvin left Emmerdale, you might have thought that he would make the most of the huge fame a soap opera would afford him, but instead, he decided to take a completely different career route.
In a complete 180 degree turn, Kelvin is now a racing driver!
And this year, Kelvin will team up with Tamworth racing driver Martin Plowman to make a challenge for the British GT4 Pro-Am title.
Speaking on the event this year, Plowman said: “I’m genuinely excited for the year ahead.
“As long as we put the work in during the off-season, I know that we have every chance to fight for podiums or even wins this year.
“I think that we will make a formidable duo and I will do everything in my power to repay the belief in us to make UltraTek successful this year.”
4.Adele Silva (Kelly Windsor)
Former Emmerdale actress Adele Silva played Kelly Windsor made her appearance in 1993. From having a relationship with her stepbrother to running off with one of her school teachers, Kelly Windsor had some of the most dramatic stories on the ITV soap.
Adele first showed up in the village in 1993 at the tender age of 12, and left for the first time in 2000. She returned in 2005 and promised to be the “biggest b****” in soap opera land.
Silva has left and returned to the show a number of times – leaving again in 2007 and then making her last appearance in the Boxing Day 2009 episode before jetting off to America to pursue a dream of appearing in Hollywood films.
However, her Hollywood dream seemed to falter, and once she’d moved stateside in 2010, Adele launched her own dog walking service with her actress friend Ceri Bethan, and an article that was published around that time said: “Walkies of Fame is owned by British actresses Ceri Bethan and Adele Silva, better known for her long-standing role as Kelly Windsor in the UK’s BAFTA-winning serial drama Emmerdale.
“Ceri and Adele moved to Los Angeles in 2009 in the hopes of launching their careers Stateside. Whilst their dreams have not faded, we all know that Hollywood is a tough nut to crack so, never ones to rest on their laurels; they set about building a career that would allow them to call the shots. Walkies of Fame was born.
“Ceri and Adele are both down-to-earth, adventurous, active animal lovers who love nothing more than an early morning hike in Runyon Canyon with a pack of canine companions.
“Dog owners themselves, they really understand the needs of both owners and their pets and how hard it can be catering to both whilst living a hectic Hollywood lifestyle.”
In 2011, Silva returned to Emmerdale but it was only a brief run. After short-lived appearances in shows such as Hollyoaks before moving back to LA, she was seen working in a Ted Baker shop in Hollywood.
3.Roxanne Pallett (Jo Sudgen)
The beautiful Roxanne Pallett made a name for herself on Emmerdale playing Jo Sudgen, and was a favourite with the men of the village from her arrival in 2005 until her departure in 2008. Upon joining the soap, Pallett said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining Emmerdale. Jo is a bit of a minx and a great character for me to get my teeth into!”
Besides her work on Emmerdale, Roxanne also has a number of credits to her name, including Soapstar Superstar, Dancing On Ice and Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes. She also made an appearance on Waterloo Road, playing a teenager, when she was actually 29. Not only that, but she also has film roles to her name including Lake Placid 3, Wrong Turn 6: The Last Resort, and Devil’s Tower, which gave her the reputation as something of what horror film fans call a “scream queen.”
After 13 years of acting, things seemed to be going well for the Emmerdale alumni, but earlier this year, she made a shocking decision, seemingly out of nowhere, to turn her back on the industry.
Her reasons? She believes that show business has now devolved to a point that casting companies are now more bothered about social media fame than talent.
Roxanne told the Daily Star Sunday: “The acting industry has become really fickle and ridiculous (lol, become?) “Roles are going to reality stars and bloggers just because they have loads of social media followers.
“One time, I lost a film role to a WAG because her husband had invested in the film. It’s corrupt. It isn’t even based on a craft anymore.
“I have also been told to lose weight, get Botox and change my accent to get a casting. I wasn’t prepared to do that. I don’t feel appreciated as an actress so I am quitting the industry.”
Roxanne added: “My wish was to move into broadcasting and it’s now come true.The magic of going live in the studio each morning and reaching thousands of listeners is so thrilling.
“Early mornings will be tricky – I may have to drive to work in my pyjamas some mornings as I’m known for sleeping through my alarm.”
2.Kerry Spacey (Toni Daggert)
Kerry Spacey played the barmaid Toni Daggert in Emmerdale from 2005 until 2007. She arrived in the village with Paddy Kirk (played by Dominic Brunt), having met him in Portugal and agreed to pretend to be his “internet girlfriend” (was there ever a more 2005 phrase?)
Pretty soon after, she settles on life in the village and gets a job as a barmaid, and proceeds to have a handful of on-again-off-again relationship ships with some of the resident hunks.
Kerry Spacey left the soap in 2007 when her contract expired and since then she has been in a handful of TV shows such as Doctors, Flutter, The Four O’Clock Club and Jamie Johnson.
However, she made the news recently for rather less flattering reasons, when she revealed that she was living in what some might describe pretty much as squalor.
As well as having stints on other TV shows, she moved to Carlton, Nottingham, with her son and daughter, but it was there that she faced one or two problems.
Recently, she spoke to the Nottingham Post and said that there were two holes in the kitchen of her council house, which were there before she moved in, that she mistook for air vents.
She has said that vermin were able to get in through one of them, and both holes are causing mould and dampness.
Ms Spacey told the newspaper: “There are air vents downstairs that have not been closed. There’s literally a hole outside that you can put your hand in. Every single room in our house is mouldy. We are sat in a house that smells like sewage – it’s been like that for months.
“It’s affecting every single part of our lives. It’s the damp and the mould and now the rodent droppings.
“There’s a big hole connected to the air vents – that’s how they got in. We have had our dinners inches away. I have been reporting a sewage smell for absolutely months.
“The smell has been obscene. I have not had family members round for months We just need to be moved. All my clothes and all the toys stink of faeces.”
Delroy Beverley, director of construction repairs and maintenance services at Nottingham City Homes, said: “We have had numerous reports of repairs from Miss Spacey over the past few days.
“Yesterday was the first time anything relating to vermin had been mentioned. We have attempted on several occasions to visit to assess the situation and carry out any actual repairs.However, Miss Spacey has refused access to both ourselves and pest control. She has informed us that she won’t allow access to the property or the garden until she has moved house.
“We have a duty to maintain this property, and if these repairs are required, it’s important that we gain access to carry out necessary works. We have again made attempts today to visit and speak with Miss Spacey, and we will continue to do so, to try and resolve the situation.
“We will also be offering again to support Miss Spacey in her wish to move house, as despite having a high priority status for a move, she has not been bidding for any new properties, so she may require extra support.”
The reason she is now living in such an awful housing situation is said to be due to a failed drama school business, which she had ploughed most of her money into. The business collapsed and all of Spacey’s hard-earned cash went down the drain.
The earning structure on the top three soaps in the country tend to be pretty similar, and because the BBC have to be more open as a public broadcaster about their wages than the privately controlled ITV, we can get an insight into what they earn.
Many of the EastEnders big hitters, according to Radio Times, earn up to 200,000 quid a year, but as far as the wage structure goes, it can be as high as £200,000 per year, or as low as £400 per episode.
According to IMDB, Stacey was in Emmerdale for 19 episodes, she could have earned as little as £7,600 for two years of appearances. Even if she earned more than that, it might be barely a living wage unless you’re a regular or a star.
1.Kate McGregor (Emily Kirk)
When the shy and retiring Emily rocked up in Emmerdale in 1999, she had always lived quite a laid-back lifestyle before her time in the dales. She then went on to secure a job at the post office and caught the eye of Butch Dingle, whom she went on to marry before he was killed in a bus accident.
It’s amazing to think that someone who is generally considered to be a very shy and reclusive person decided to go into such a public line of business, but there you go.
After her stint on Emmerdale ended, the notoriously shy Kate McGregor decided to step away from show business to focus on raising her family.
Alongside on bringing up children, she also announced that she would be fulfilling her dream of becoming a vicar.