Soap stars who quit TV for singing – from EastEnders actor who knocked Madonna off No 1 to Strictly star’s unlikely hit | The Sun

ACTING and singing often go hand-in-hand, but the transition from one industry to the other can be a rocky road.

A number of pop stars have bagged soap roles later in life, but some performers have done it the other way round – with varying success.


The latest soap star to quit to pursue their dream of becoming a pop star is Isobel Steele, 21.

Her Emmerdale character Liv Flaherty was killed off last week in devastating scenes after being crushed by a caravan.

While it remains to be seen whether she makes a success of her music, here we reveal other stars of EastEnders, Coronation Street and Hollyoaks who’ve gone from soap star to superstar (and sometimes back again).

Claire Sweeney 

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She’s now a well-known star of stage and screen, famous for playing Roxy Hart in the West End version of Chicago.

But Claire Sweeney, now 51, first shot to fame in 1991 as Lindsey Corkhill in the now-defunct soap Brookside.

She played the character right up until 2003 when the Channel 4 show ended, but made the move into music the year before, becoming a Forces sweetheart after entertaining British troops serving in Afghanistan.

That same year she released her debut album Claire, featuring a mix of original material and covers, which peaked at number 15 in the UK album charts.

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Nick Berry

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EastEnders star Nick Berry knocked Madonna off the top spot in 1986

Nick Berry played EastEnders' Simon Wicks from 1985, but swapped Albert Square for chart success a year later when he pursued a career in music.

His hit single Every Loser Wins got to Number 1 and was the second-biggest-selling single in the UK that year, remaining at number one for three weeks. 

He even knocked Madonna off the top spot!

Nick returned to EastEnders the following year, after his musical career stalled, but left again at the end of 1990.

His character has only made one brief re-appearance since, in 2012 for the funeral of his on-screen mother Pat Butcher, played by Pam St Clement.

After EastEnders Nick, now 59, went on to play PC Nick Rowan in Heartbeat from 1992 to 1998, and sang the show’s theme tune – a cover of Buddy Holly’s song Heartbeat.

Will Mellor

He’s currently strutting his stuff on Strictly Come Dancing, but actor Will Mellor also enjoyed a brief pop career.

He joined the cast of Hollyoaks in 1995 as James "Jambo" Bolton and stayed until 1998, when he attempted to crack the charts with a cover of Leo Sayer's When I Need You.

The track reached number 5 in the UK Singles Chart. He also had a less successful follow-up single called No Matter What I Do, which only made it to number 23.

Shortly after Will, now 46, went back to acting, starring in Casualty and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.

He did try his hand at music again in 2003, when he took part in Comic Relief does Fame Academy – and won!

Jennifer Ellison

She shot to fame for her role on Brookside, and Jennifer Ellison, 39, also went on to pursue a music career. 

After playing Emily Shadwick for five years she left the soap in 2003, and released her first single Baby I Don’t Care.

It made it to Number 6 in the UK, and the following year, after being brought back into the public eye on Hell's Kitchen, Jennifer released her second single, Bye Bye Boy, which reached Number 13.

Recently she appeared on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins but was rushed to hospital after jumping out of a helicopter.

Adam Rickitt

Having portrayed Nick Tisley on Coronation Street between 1997 and 1999, 90s heartthrob Adam Rickitt left the cobbles with dreams of becoming a popstar. 

With his floppy blonde curtains he certainly looked the part, but despite signing a six-album deal, he released his first – and only – album Good Times in 1999.

Adam’s debut single I Breathe Again reached number five in the UK, but his album peaked at number 41, which saw him dropped by his record label.

In 2010 Adam, now 44, made an appearance at London's G-A-Y club and announced that he was working on a new album. 

But sadly the first single from it, Tonight, failed to chart and the album wasn't released.

Reluctant to let it go, four years later he became part of the supergroup 5th Story on the TV show The Big Reunion, along with Kenzie from Blazin' Squad, Dane Bowers from Another Level, Kavana and Gareth Gates.

Richard Fleeshman

Richard Fleeshman was just 12 when he joined the cast of Corrie as Craig Harris in 2002.

A year later he became the youngest person to win a Stars In Their Eyes celebrity special, and in 2006, he was champion of Soapstar Superstar, a TV singing competition for soap actors.

Later that year, aged just 16, the teen heartthrob left Corrie to launch his singing career, signing a major record deal with Universal Records.

But it wasn’t as successful as he’d hoped, with his debut single Coming Down, from his album Neon, charting at Number 78.

However he did get to support Sir Elton John on tour in 2008, and is now a very successful West End star, aged 33.

Martine McCutcheon

Martine McCutcheon shot to fame in 1994 as Tiffany Raymond – later Mitchell – in EastEnders.

Her character was so popular that 22 million viewers tuned in to see Tiff killed off on New Year’s Eve 1998.

Martine had decided to leave the soap in order to embark on a pop career – and is a rare success story.

Her debut album, You Me & Us peaked at number two in the UK in 1999, and spawned the UK number one single Perfect Moment.

Two UK top 10 tracks followed – I've Got You, and the double-sided Talking in Your Sleep/Love Me. 

Martine’s second album Wishing was released the following year, although it was of a hit. It still produced two UK top 10 singles – I'm Over You and On the Radio, a cover of Donna Summer’s original hit. 

In 2002 her pop career stalled after her third album, Musicality, was poorly received, and turned her head to theatre instead.

She returned to music in 2017 with the album Lost and Found, and also appeared on the Masked Singer in 2021.

Tracy Shaw

Tracy Shaw played Maxine Peacock on Corrie from 1995 to 2003 – when her character was murdered by serial killer Richard Hillman with a crowbar.

During that time, she also had a short-lived pop career.

Tracy released two singles in 1998 – Ridin' High, and a cover of Lonnie Gordon's top 10 hit, Happenin' All Over Again.

Thought her version of the latter only reached number 46 in the UK Singles Chart.

Sid Owen

Sid Owen is best known for playing Ricky Butcher in EastEnders on and off since 1988 – and he’s due to return to the show again very soon.

His first break from the soap happened in 2000, when he decided to try his hand at pop music, releasing his cover of Michael Jackson’s We’ve Got A Good Thing Going.

The song reached No. 14 in the UK Singles Chart. A follow-up single was recorded, but never released, and he returned to EastEnders in 2002.

Michelle Gayle

Michelle Gayle joined the cast of EastEnders as Hattie Tavernier in 1990, and remained on the show for three years.

But music was always Michelle’s first passion, and in 1993 she left to pursue a singing career.

Her foray into the music world went pretty well; Michelle scored seven top 40 singles in the UK charts, including Sweetness and Do You Know.

She went on to release two top 40 albums through RCA Records, but they parted company in 1997.

Although Gayle has recorded other albums, they have not been released.

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In 2008 she competed in Eurovision – Your Decision, a TV show where viewers chose the UK act for that year’s competition.

She came second to Andy Abraham, who competed in Belgrade, Serbia – who scored a grand total of 14 points with his track Even If.

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