Every child star that EastEnders and Coronation Street was forced to replace – and where original stars are now

SOAP fans have got used to show bosses chopping and changing its young actors over the years.

As we know, many of the BBC soap’s child stars have gone on pursue careers in very different fields – take little Janine Butcher, who’s ended up working at Google.

But what about the original Ben Mitchell, and the original Hope Stape?

Here we take a look at some of the soap kids whose once familiar faces you may have forgotten all about…

Peter Beale

Believe it or not, the character of Peter has actually been played by seven different actors – at the moment it's the hunky Dylan Hudson but before that it was Ben Hardy, who went on to make a name for himself in Hollywood, landing the role of Angel in X-Men: Apocalypse.

When Peter was a wee nipper the role was taken on by Francis Brittin-Snell between 1993 and 1996 and Alex Stevens from 1997 to 1998.

Joseph Shade took over in 1998 and is still the longest serving Peter, departing the Square in 2004.

One of the most popular Peter Beale actors is Thomas Law, who continues to work as an actor.

He has appeared in Simon Pegg film The World's End, as well as Casualty and TV short The Inner.

In 2021, Thomas joined the cast of the ITV crime drama The Bay for its second series on as DC Eddie Martin.

Lucy Beale

Poor old Lucy met a grisly end as part of one of soap’s most talked about (and longest running) storylines ever.

Hetti Bywater was the most recent actress to play Ian’s golden girl, but the first ever Lucy was Eva Brittin-Snell (the original Peter’s real life sister).

Casey Anne Rothery then took over the mantle for eight years.

She now lives in Marbella, Spain, and has a very edgy haircut, paired with fashionable thick-rimmed glasses.

Steven Beale

Aaron Sidwell reprised his role as Steven Beale after an eight-year absence – only to be killed off from the show in 2017.

During his absence, he filled his time by starring in various West End shows, getting married and having two kids.

Prior to Aaron, Steven was played by Edward Savage.

After Edward left the Square he played professional football for the Wycombe Wanderers Youth Team and the senior club in 2008/2009, but his career was cut short after having eight operations on his knee.

He most recently worked as a personal trainer and was formerly general manager at budget gym group Xercise4Less in Sunderland.

Martin Fowler

Lifelong EastEnders fans will remember James Alexandrou, who played Pauline Fowler’s son for 11 years until 2007.

Since leaving the soap, James has continued to work in the acting industry, picking up guest roles in TV dramas such as Silent Witness and Casualty.

He’s also carved out a successful career for himself on stage, taking on Shakespearean roles in London’s West End and at the Globe Theatre.

Now working behind the camera, James has directed a variety of his own short films.

He's also been studying for an MA in Directing Fiction at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield.

The role was taken over by James Bye in 2014.

Ben Mitchell

Current actor Max Bowden is actually the sixth to take on the role of Ben Mitchell.

Many will remember fresh-faced Charlie Jones, who played the troublesome lad between 2006 and 2010.

Charlie’s most memorable storyline was the physical and mental abuse he suffered at the hands of his dad Phil’s girlfriend Stella Crawford.

On the day of Phil and Stella’s wedding, Ben spilled the beans about what had been going on – prompting Stella to hurl herself off a roof.

Charlie is still acting and in 2020 appeared in the BBC adaptation of Noughts + Crosses, as well as Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey in the same year.

Lauren Branning

Prior to Jacquelina Jossa taking on the role, Max’s eldest daughter Lauren was played by Madeline Duggan.

She joined the soap at the same time as Lorna Fitzgerald, who plays her screen sibling Abi Branning.

One of her juiciest scenes was when she exposed Stacey and Max’s affair during a Christmas special in 2007.

Madeline now looks super glam and is still acting, having appeared on Silent Witness in 2012, Channel 4 drama Dates in 2013 and Sky Atlantic’s The Tunnel: Sabotage.

Last year she told fans she was working part-time in a doctor's surgery as "being an out of work actress doesn't pay".

Louise Mitchell

Louise Mitchell has also been played by four actresses in her time on the Square.

Rachel Cox played the role of little Lou, with Danni Bennatar and Brittany Papple filling in when Louise visited the Square.

Tilly Keeper then landed the role of Louise in 2016 and completely transformed the character from sassy teen to a young mum with some big storylines.

Bex Fowler

Bex Fowler, who was known as Chloe Jackson when she was born – is the daughter of Sonia Jackson and Martin Fowler.

Baby Chloe was played by twins Alex and Vicky Gonzalez.

Chloe was adopted by a family who renamed her Rebecca but when her adopted parents died, she came back to the Square played by Jade Sharif.

Jasmine Armfield took on the role in 2014 and put her stamp on the character.

Dotty Cotton

Dotty Cotton arrived in Walford with her dad Nick Cotton as part of his plot to con poor mum, Dot Branning.

Dotty, then played by Molly Conlin, thought her mum Sandy had died, and went along with Nick’s plan.

When Sandy arrived looking for her daughter – Kirsty – the little girl said an emotional goodbye to Dot.

Dotty reappeared in Walford in 2019 played by feisty Milly Zero. Meanwhile original actress Molly recently showcased her glamorous transformation on social media.

Many of Corrie fan-favourite characters grew up on the soap and donned several faces over the years as bosses switched up the actors playing the roles.

Peter Barlow

Peter Barlow has had several different faces over the years. 

The fourth actor to play Peter was Bill Roache’s real life son, Linus Roache, who appeared on the soap in 1973.

Linus quit Corrie in 1975 and went on to become a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

He then made his way into film and played Batman’s dad Dr Thomas Wayne in 2005 flick Batman Begins and Michael Cutter in the American TV series Law & Order. 

But he couldn’t keep away from the cobbles forever and returned in 2010 as Laurence Cunningham, Ken’s long-lost son.

Hope Stape

Fiz Brown and Tyrone Dobbs troubled daughter has been the centre of recent storylines for her fire starting habits.

But did you know that she has been played by several actors since her 2010 arrival on the cobbles.

As a baby she was played by Harriet Atkins, Sadie Pilbury, and twins Ava and Isla McCulloch, followed by another set of twins Faith and Nicola Holt.

Simon Barlow

Young actor Alex Bain joined the cast of Coronation Street back in 2008 as five-year-old Simon Barlow. 

Alex has had a number of challenging storylines over the years including bullying his mum Leanne when he discovered she’d previously worked as a prostitute. 

Alex, now 19, is still on the soap, having bagged Best Young Performance at the British Soap Awards in 2011 and 2012. 

Sarah Platt

Sarah Platt, currently played by Tina O’Brien, was previously played by Lynsay King. 

Lynsay departed from the soap in 1999, having experienced bullying at school as a result of her fame. 

In 2004, she revealed she’d quit a drama course and was working behind the counter at Greggs in Manchester suburb Droylsden. 

Tracy Barlow

The role of troublesome Tracy Barlow, now embodied by Kate Ford, was originally played by child star Dawn Acton. 

Dawn played the part from 1988 until 1995, with a number of guest appearances during the following years. 

She eventually lost out to actress Kate after re-auditioning for the part in 2002, and tried her hand at being a nightclub DJ instead.

Chesney Brown

Sam Aston first appeared on Coronation Street in 2003 and is now one of the nation’s favourite soap stars after 17 years of playing lovable Chesney Brown.

Sam has tackled storylines including his relationships with Katy Armstrong and Sinead Tinker as well as the death of his beloved dog Schmeichel. 

But his biggest challenge came at the end of 2019 when on-screen girlfriend Gemma Winter gave birth to quads while stuck on a cable car high up above the Welsh town Llandudno. 

Sam welcomed his own little bundle of joy last year.

In August 2020 the actor announced that he and wife Briony had welcomed son Sonny six weeks earlier than planned.

The pair previously shared that they had only been trying for a baby for four or five weeks before falling pregnant.

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