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Hollyoaks: What happened to the original cast from 20 years ago?

As Hollyoaks prepares to celebrate turning 20, we look at what its first stars are up to now

Hollyoaks creator Phil Redmond, centre, with the cast of Hollyoaks in 1995

Hollyoaks is set to celebrate its 20th anniversary - yes 20th! - this autumn.

And with 50 regular characters, there’s sure to be a huge celebration to mark turning the big 2-0.

But surprisingly the soap which is set in the fictional village of Hollyoaks in Chester started out by focusing on the lives of just seven main stars.

Following its launch on Channel 4 in October 1995 with just one episode per week, Hollyoaks built up a loyal teenage fan base.

It followed the adventures of three lads - Kurt, Jambo and Tony - and four lasses - Louise, Maddie, Natasha and Dawn.

But what happened to Hollyoaks’ magnificent seven?

One of the actors Nick Pickard, who played Tony, went on to become the soap’s longest serving cast member (the Ken Barlow or Ian Beale of the show if you will).

But what about the others?

Nick Pickard (Tony)

Where do we start with Nick? As his original castmates all waved goodbye to the fictional village, he’s stuck around in his popular role as Tony Hutchinson for the past two decades.

The cast were interviewed on This Morning before the first episode was aired and a viewers’ poll named Tony as most likely to be the favourite with fans - and they weren’t wrong. But who could have predicted his position as the show’s longest serving star?

Originally introduced as a loveable geek, Tony has since developed into one of the village’s stalwarts - and gained much more confidence when it comes to the ladies. He’s had marriages, affairs and a handful of embarrassing moments in the love department.

In the past couple of years Tony’s battled testicular cancer, had an affair with his stepdaughter, and found out his baby daughter was switched at birth.

Not surprisingly, the actor will play a central role during the special week Hollyoaks’ bosses have planned to mark the soap’s 20th anniversary. Fans will see the show’s founding cast member organise a Pride festival when he decides that it could be a lucrative money-making opportunity.

Jeremy Edwards (Kurt)

Former model Jeremy Edwards played Hollyoaks’ Mr Cool.

Kurt was best known for his love of his motorbikes and music. He was also a bit of a ladies’ man but eventually settled down with Ruth Osborne, played by Terri Dwyer.

Fans watched him speed off on his bike after their marriage hit the rocks, and he was killed off in a jet-ski accident six months later, in 1999.

But thankfully things were a lot brighter from Jeremy. He went straight into Holby City, playing nurse Danny Shaughnessy for four years.

He also popped up on reality shows such as Celebrity Big Brother in 2005 and Dancing on Ice in 2009.

Jeremy, who was also engaged to S Club 7’s Rachel Stevens, briefly returned in 2013, when Kurt appeared before Tony as a guardian angel figure in Hollyoaks Later.

Since then he’s been a frequent panellist on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff and can be seen in CBBC’s Millie Inbetween.

This Christmas you can catch him in panto in Snow White in Telford, starring alongside Nicole Faraday from Bad Girls.

Will Mellor (Jambo)

Everyone remembers joker Jambo, right?

James ‘Jambo’ Bolton, was an individualist, often seen pondering life’s little mysteries and was known for his devotion to Margaret the cow.

Viewers saw him leave in 1998 after struggling to get over the death of his love interest Dawn Cunningham, played by Lisa Williamson.

Like Jeremy, he did return again - briefly in 2004, appearing before Tony as a vision at Christmas.

Away from Hollyoaks, Will enjoyed a short-lived pop career, scoring a top 5 single with his cover of Leo Sayer’s ‘When I Need You’.

But the comedic actor went on to become better known for his longest-running role as Gaz in Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.

His TV credits also include parts in Casualty, The Street, Merlin, Waterloo Road, Broadchurch, White Van Man, No Offence, and EastEnders.

Now you’ll hear him doing voiceover work and narrating Tattoo Disasters UK on digital station Spike.

Lisa Williamson (Dawn)

Lisa spent two years in the show before Dawn was diagnosed with leukaemia.

After filming a tragic episode which saw Dawn’s death on Christmas Day, the actress moved into commercials and theatre tours, including the role of Mrs Dewinter in ‘Rebecca’.

She now works as a writer and hypnotherapist.

Yasmin Bannerman (Maddie)

Yasmin Bannerman’s character Maddie Parker was another of Hollyoaks' original stars who met an untimely death.

Her alter ego’s biggest storyline saw her being held hostage (alongside Jude Cunningham, played by Davinia Taylor) by her obsessive ex Michael in a dramatic 1997 siege.

This ultimately resulted in Michael’s death and Maddie leaving the village. It was the first time that Hollyoaks had devoted an entire episode to a single storyline.

Yasmin went on to land guest roles in Red Dwarf, Cold Feet and Holby City. She was a regular in police drama Merseybeat and appeared as a humanoid shaped tree called Jabe in the 2005 series of Doctor Who.

She was later involved in the Doctor Who audio dramas and spin-off Torchwood.

Shebah Ronay (Natasha)

Shebah Ronay’s character Natasha Andersen was the original Hollyoaks girl - feisty and glamorous.

And it was another first for her as Natasha was at the centre of the soap’s first issue-based storyline, then bringing in the highest ratings since the launch episode.

Fans watched as Natasha suffered a drugs overdose after her drink was spiked at a party, becoming the first Hollyoaks regular to be killed off in 1996.

Shebah gave up acting to concentrate on modelling, presenting and journalism.

The actress went from being in the headlines - thanks to her hard-hitting storyline - to writing them, spending four years as a film columnist for the News of the World. She also worked as the lifestyle editor for Wedding Day magazine.

Brett O’Brien (Louise)

Brett only appeared on the show for two months longer than Shebah, packing her bags and leaving the soap in May 1996. Her kooky character Louise Taylor left Hollyoaks village with a New Age traveller called Tree.

Although Brett didn’t leave the world of television completely, securing guest roles in programmes such as Dream Team, Doctors, The Bill and Law and Order.

Who was your favourite Hollyoaks character? Let us know in the comments below

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