Soap operas have for many years brought in ‘big names’ for a quick ratings boost or publicity stunt, but what about those who went from saga to stardom? Here is our pick of former soap stars who went onto ‘bigger’ things.
From Dark Shadows to Dynasty. Geoffrey Scott (right) became a household name as Mark Jennings in the American supersaga Dynasty. He got his television break in the creepy daytime serial Dark Shadows. Other appearances include Dallas, Murder She Wrote and Baywatch. Scott has made returns to daytime soap with appearances in more recent years in General Hospital and Guiding Light.
Malcolm McDowell may be an international film star now, but one of his earliest television roles was in Midlands soap opera Crossroads as solicitor Crispin Ryder – the son of murderous Malcolm Ryder. McDowell played the part for a few weeks as a favour to one of the producers, Peter Rogers. Best known these days for A Clockwork Orange and IF.
Another from the Crossroads Motel was Elaine Paige. Now a global singing sensation she checked into ATV’s nightly serial in the sixties fresh from drama school. Playing waitress Caroline Winthrop who became the girlfriend of regular character Sandy Richardson played by Roger Tonge. Elaine is best known for several roles in musical theatre in the UK and America including Chess and Cats as well as a regular radio show on BBC Radio 2. Paige is also a popular concert performer and has had pop chart success too.
Sean Maguire was the cute child actor of Grange Hill playing cheeky cockney boy Teggs who moved onto EastEnders as Irish trainee footballer Aiden Brosnan for 70 episodes. His sport career was cut short after an accident and later became addicted to drugs. Maguire has been a Hollywood darling appearing in movies such as Meet The Sparticans and television stateside including CSI: NY, Cold Case and L.A. Blues. Another who did well after EastEnders is Jonny Lee Miller, playing the son of dirty old Christine Hewitt who was having an affair with Arthur Flowler. Jonny has starred in the big budget remake of Dark Shadows as well as Dexter and Elementary to name a few.
‘Neighbours, everybody needs good Neighbours’. And if they can sing it certainly helps. Kylie Minogue (left) was the larger than life motor mechanic Charlene Ramsay who’s romance with Scott Robinson (Jason Donovan) became a must-see for fans of the soap in the UK and Australia. Kylie went on to become a pop queen with numerous hits to her name including Spinning Around and I Should Be So Lucky. Minogue has also fronted World tours and several television specials. On-screen partner Jason Donovan didn’t do too badly himself with a stint as a pop star and theatre actor after life in soap.
The cul-de-sac has also unleashed a few other names into the wider world of showbiz. Guy Pearce, Delta Goodrem, Jesse Spencer and Natalie Imbruglia became notable personalities after quitting their soap roles. And having seen Russell Crowe’s short appearance in Neighbours who would have imagined the movie success that would follow there? Kylie’s sister Dannii also has had success after a stint in Home and Away, with music and television appearances, including as judge on the UK’s X Factor talent show.
Kate O’Mara became an American personality when she joined the cast of Dynasty playing Cassandra Morrell. The show had plenty of bitch, but it was as much sweeter character in ITV’s first medical soap opera that she made her television debut. From Emergency Ward 10 she later starred in the network’s first rural saga too – Weavers Green was putting sheep, cows and farmyard drama on-screen years before Emmerdale.
Kate also starred in a host of dramas after her stint in America, appearing in BBC’s highbrow drama Howards’ Way and cult classic Doctor Who. She’s also returned to daytime soap with Doctors and Crossroads in more recent times.
Matthew Maude (right) became a bit of a teen heart-throb in the later years of Crossroads playing Scott Booth. Since then he’s forged a career behind the scenes in visual effects working on such movies as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Friday the 13th and Unstoppable. Others who went from in front of the cameras to behind the scenes include former Grange Hill and EastEnders actress Susan Tully who works now as a director while former ‘Enders co-star Ross Kemp has moved from actor to documentary maker for Sky Television.
Finally Alan Dale was the permed Doctor Forrest in Aussie saga The Young Doctors, created by our president here at ATV Alan Coleman. Alan went on to play Jim Robinson in Neighbours for nine years before quitting Australia for America where he’s starred in ER, The Practice, CSI: Miami, 24 and a starring role in The O.C.
Anyone we’ve missed? Why not let us know below…