Celebs who went back to normal jobs – from pulling pints to making cheese


Always under the watchful gaze of the public and with intense workloads, it’s hard to get a work life balance.

It’s not always glamorous and doesn’t always guarantee steady money either.

So many turn their back on fame, or instead juggle another job to keep funds topped up whilst on the screen.

Some have thrived in their new careers and have found a whole new beginning away from stardom.

So from Emmerdale to X-factor, who left the spotlight behind?

To a former Corrie star winning awards for his cheese, with another household name giving back to society launching an addiction recovery charity, here’s some faces who went for a more mundane lifestyle.

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Tony Discipline – EastEnders

Former EastEnders actor Tony Discipline has left the showbiz world behind to bravely become a firefighter.

Tony, who played Alfie Moon’s cousin Tyler Moon from 2011 until 2013, unveiled the move on Instagram by sharing a snap in his London Fire Brigade uniform in October 2020.

The former actor, who previously dated Jacqueline Jossa, had previously hinted at his new job back in March of the same year when he posed in his uniform.

However fans at the time wrongly assumed he was dressed for a new acting role.

In light of his new career move, fans flooded to the comments section to congratulate Tony.

Fellow former EastEnders star James Forde, who became a builder after leaving the show, commenting: “Fair play geeza good on ya! We’ve both gone back down to reality!”

Tony Discipline

Hetti Bywater – EastEnders

Hetti took over the role of Lucy Beale in 2012, but didn’t last long as the character was killed off two years later in a gripping whodunnit storyline that went on for a year.

Her last appearance as a soap regular was in April 2014, but she returned for the explosive live flashback episode where viewers discovered Lucy was murdered by her little brother Bobby.

After her soap exit, Hetti appeared in Death in Paradise in 2015 and Sky One drama series Delicious in 2016.

While in between acting jobs in April 2017, she was spotted pulling pints at a North London pub.

In October 2020, Hetti admitted she was “glad” that Lucy was killed off when someone commented on one of her Instagram snaps.

She agreed with one of his points, writing: “I’m glad Bobby killed Lucy too, I hated her.”

Hetti Bywater
Hetti Bywater

Ray Quinn – X Factor

At the height of his fame, Ray Quinn was watched by 12.6 million ­people on the X Factor in 2006.

After finishing runner up to Leona Lewis, the star, 32, has released two albums, appeared in a host of stage shows and was a regular on Hollyoaks in 2018.

He also made British music history as the youngest male ­artist to ever enter the UK album chart at No1 without having released a single.

When the pandemic hit, Ray was appearing in a play at Liverpool’s Royal Court but it was forced to close its door, leaving him without any work or income for months.

Hard-working Ray didn’t want to sit around feeling sorry for himself so got a job as a Hermes delivery driver for three months.

“It just didn’t stop,” he said. “You can have up to 150 parcels in your van and you’re out from 8am to 6pm.

“It helped put food on the table at the time, but it was ­reported I was earning £11.40 an hour… I definitely wasn’t on that much!”

It was a humbling experience for the former Dancing on Ice champion, who admitted he had to leave his ego at the door.

Ray’s father died of cancer in November during what he describes as a “nightmare” year, but the singer believes his dad would be proud he has now joined his brothers Robin and Darren in the carpet fitting business.

Ray, who will appear in a Rat Pack-inspired UK stage show later this year, explained it was good to have another trade under his belt during these times and said you shouldn’t “pigeon-hole yourself”.

Ray Quinn
Ray Quinn

Adam Thomas – Emmerdale

Adam Thomas spent nine years playing Adam Barton in the Dales before leaving in 2018.

He then took on three days a week of work at a property management company owned by a businessman friend.

“I’ve made a fortune. I’m in between jobs,” he told The Mirror in 2018.

“I was just at home, waiting for a phone call to do an audition – I needed something to tick me over.

The actor, who has two children with wife Caroline added: “I’ve got a family to support at the end of the day, so I needed some sort of income.

“It’s great for my own sanity to get out there and start working.”

Adam has since gone on to become a property executive for Kamani Property.

But last year he was back on telly with his brothers for Absolutely India: Mancs in Mumbai.

Adam Thomas
Adam Thomas

Sean Wilson – Coronation Street

Former Coronation Street star Sean Wilson played Martin Platt for two decades in the soap before leaving to pursue cheesemaking.

He set up the Saddleworth Cheese Company in 2009, whose products are stocked in Asda, and now makes an award-winning blue called Smelly Ha’peth.

Sean then returned to the school in Nantwich, Cheshire, where he learnt his trade as a lecturer in a bid to pass on his cheese expertise.

He has won a gold medal at the British Cheese Awards and was on the judging panel at the International Cheese Awards and The Global Cheese Awards.

In 2017 he landed a lucrative deal with Asda to supply supply his award-winning product to nearly 200 branches.

“My products are going ­nationwide. We supply 180 stores with delicatessens, so we’re very honoured,” he said.

“I walk down the street and most people acknowledge I’m one of them, which is great when you’re selling something.”

Sean made a brief return to Corrie in 2019 when Martin came to help son David.

Sean Wilson
Sean Wilson

Same Difference – X Factor

Brother and sister pop duo Same Difference went all the way to the final and finished in a very respectable third place in 2007.

Sarah and Sean Smith, from Portsmouth, were the siblings with cheesy grins who signed a record deal and released two albums.

After their brief music career, the pair decided to disband in 2014 and went in very different directions.

Sean actually stayed in the industry and went on to have a solo career making music, while also occasionally appearing on Loose Women to discuss his life.

While Sarah took a step back from the spotlight and opened a performing arts school, SD studios, in their hometown.

Jeremy Edwards
Jeremy Edwards

Jeremy Edwards – Hollyoaks

Jeremy played Kurt Benson in Hollyoaks from 1995 to 1999, and then went on to play Danny Shaughnessy in Holby City.

He also enjoyed stints on CelebrityBig Brother and Dancing On Ice and appeared in a Corrie spin-off.

But when job offers failed to come in he insisted he was “happy to graft” after becoming a labourer to make ends meet.

In 2011 he was pictured throwing dirt into a skip for a friend’s gardening business.

He said: “I don’t see the shame in manual labour. I don’t know any actors who work consistently without other work. There’s a lucky few, but not many. I had a good 10-year run.”

And Jeremy revealed he has found a big plus to labouring – the exercise – adding: “I’m gaining muscles.”

Jeremy was back on our screens in 2019 to sing in the Celebrity X Factor with former Strictly star Brendan Cole.

The actor briefly returned to Hollyoaks last year, which he later dubbed “a bit of a s*** show”.

Opening up to podcast Soap From The Box, he said: “It all became a bit of a s*** show, for want of a better word.

“I was going to be going back for a lot longer, doing more episodes, open-ended. Then COVID struck.

“Rather than sacrifice me coming back at all – because they didn’t want to expand it. If anything, they needed to reduce the cast because you can only shoot with certain people. They had to scrap 30 episodes and change the way they were shooting.”

He added: “But Bryan [Kirkwood] still wanted me back and he phoned me and apologised and we just did a short stint.

“In hindsight, it probably would have been better to leave it alone, to be honest. It was neither one thing nor the other.

“I didn’t feel comfortable, we didn’t know where we were going with it, they didn’t know where they were going with it.

“We had subsequent chats about it and I just thought… I’ve got a daughter now, I’ve got a wife and it was hard being away. I was all prepared to [stay] for six months and possibly a year, but doing three months and then not knowing my future?”

Frankie Cocozza
Frankie Cocozza

Frankie Cocozza – X Factor

Frankie was just 18 years old when he shot to fame as an X Factor hell raiser in 2011.

He caused a stir right from the very start by flashing his bum to the judges because he had the names of seven girls he had slept with tattooed there.

In one of the show’s biggest ever scandals, Frankie was booted off by X Factor bosses after production staff overheard him bragging about taking cocaine.

Frankie admitted his life had “got out of control” while taking part in the live shows but he carried on with his music career.

In 2012, he finished in second place in Celebrity Big Brother and then released a single that only reached No. 89 in the UK singles chart.

Since finding fame on the talent show, Frankie admitted he’d blown £200,000 on booze and by 2017, he was earning minimum wage working on a building site.

The singer went on to meet wife Bianca Murphy, who he married in 2018, just one year after he went looking for love on E4 show Celebs Go Dating.

The former musician now resides in Sydney, Australia with Bianca and their their son Frankie, who they welcomed in 2019, living a far quieter life.

Katie Waissel
Katie Waissel

Katie Waissel – X Factor

Despite only finishing in 7th place, Katie Waissel was one of the standout stars from the 2010 series.

The former receptionist and waitress made it through to the live shows but was eliminated at the quarter final stage.

While rumoured plans to join Jay Z’s record label never materialised, Katie released an album and joined new band ‘Red Velvet Lovers’.

Katie appeared in the 2016 series of Celebrity Big Brother, then abandoned her singing dreams for a very different job.

She was seen in the fourth series of American reality show Vanderpump Rules in her role as an office manager of a tattoo removal company in Los Angeles.

Now Katie works as a health and fitness specialist and mental health campaigner.

James Forde
James Forde

James Forde – EastEnders

Actor James Forde was watched by millions in the UK as he played troubled teenager Liam Butcher.

The young actor appeared in EastEnders from 2008 to 2015 as the son of Bianca Jackson and Ricky Butcher.

However, he swapped Albert Square and acting for a new life as a builder and announced the news to his fans via an Instagram post in February 2020.

The caption read ‘Bob the builder’ alongside a hammer emoji and a picture of him wearing a hard hat and high-vis vest.

James received an outpouring of love from his fans who were excited about his new job development.

“Lovely pick of you” (sic) and “I want to come vist y’all man!” were some of the comments left on the post by followers.

“Another person posted: ” Can we fix it” to which James responded: “YES WE CAN”.

A fourth commented on the surprising career change saying: “Life after Eastenders lol a full time job’ (sic), to which James defended the move by responding: “yeah, it’s called normality mate”.

Ruxandra Porojnicu
Ruxandra Porojnicu

Ruxandra Porojnicu – Coronation Street

Corrie star Ruxandra had just £300 to her name when she first moved to the UK.

The actress then bagged the job of a lifetime as trafficked worker Alina Pop on the ITV soap.

While she was filming, tough Ruxandra carried on working in a café alongside her prestigious acting gig.

“I worked all summer in a café and I will keep this job for as long as I can while also going up to Manchester and film,” she explained on Twitter in 2019.

“And yes, it wasn’t easy after 6 months of living any actor’s dream to work on set full time. I wanted to quit and I cried a lot because it’s so stressful working in customer service!

“Also, I couldn’t believe I have to do it again. Imagine having a family to take care of! Is not easy being constantly with or without job. Is true it affects your mental health as an actor!!

“But hey! There was no other alternative right away, didn’t know what the future will bring and I couldn’t just wait without doing anything.

“There’s no shame in working. I would rather feel ashamed being lazy and complain I don’t have money or ask my family to provide for me.”

Andy Abraham
Andy Abraham

Andy Abraham – X Factor

Andy Abraham used to work as a refuse collector and bus driver in London before his rise to fame.

During the 2005 series of X Factor he narrowly lost out to Shayne Ward by 1.2% of the public vote in a tense final.

Andy released four albums, sang at former Arsenal footballer Theo Walcott’s 21st birthday party and had a number of Christmas songs.

In 2008, Andy represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest, unfortunately coming in last place with just 14 points.

After touring and appearing on stage, worked dried up and Andy decided to return to his old job collecting refuse

“I’m literally singing out there as I was during the X Factor show. I’m back to being the official singing binman, which is kind of cool,” he told the Metro.

“I’m just enjoying keeping my feet on the ground.”

Kevin Kennedy
Kevin Kennedy

Kevin Kennedy – Coronation Street

Kevin Kennedy played the lovable Curly Watts for 20 years on Corrie.

After leaving the cobbles in 2003, Kevin launched an addiction recovery charity to help others with addictive and mental health disorders after being on his own journey of recovery from alcohol addiction for 22 years.

He set up the Kennedy Street Foundation to help hundreds of people across the country on their own road to recovery.

They have a helpline manned by trained coaches all in active recovery who offer free virtual recovery coaching support, signposting and virtual workshops.

“The Kennedy Street Foundation is my passion; all we want to do is help people who find themselves in the desperate situation I was in 22 years ago,” Kevin told Manchester Evening News in August 2020.

“Our national recovery helpline is receiving calls every day and we really need to raise as much money as possible in order to be able to help each and every one start their own Road2Recovery.”

Peter Dean – EastEnders

Peter Dean played cockney fruit and veg seller Peter Beale on the EastEnders market from 1985 until May 1993.

Peter’s contract was reportedly terminated after irreconcilable differences with the show’s producers, who he slammed in an expose with The Sun.

His character was killed in a car crash off-screen in December that year.

Peter, who is now a practising Buddhist, has been a security guard and worked at a furniture yard to pay the bills.

But he also went on to make guest appearances in Bo’ Selecta and Little Britain and in 2018 he took part in BBC series, The Real Marigold Hotel.

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Chloe Jasmine – X Factor

Chloe Jasmine had already appeared in modelling show The Face, where she was mentored by Naomi Campbell, before auditioning for The X Factor in 2014.

Chloe was booted out of the contest in the second week of live shows but is known for dating fellow X Factor singer Stevi Ritchie.

The couple went into the Celebrity Big Brother house together in 2015 and finished in fifth place, but they sadly split up the following year.

Since then, Chloe has gone back to modelling and has walked down the runway at London Fashion week for designers such as Vivenne Westwood and Prophetik.

Gemma Merna
Gemma Merna

Gemma Merna – Hollyoaks

Former Hollyoaks star Gemma Merna played glamorous McQueen sister Carmel from 2006 until 2014.

She won Best Comedy Performance at the British Soap Awards in 2007 and was nominated for Best Female Soap Actress at the 2007 NTAs.

After leaving the Channel 4 soap, Gemma decided to step out of the spotlight and fulfil a long-term dream of teaching yoga.

She quit acting and now works as a yoga instructor and personal trainer.

“I teach 10 classes a week and I love it,” he told Manchester Evening News in August 2016.

“It’s great to find a passion in life and I find that yoga helps with the nerves with auditions.

“I did a stage project last year and it helped to do yoga backstage. Yoga gets you very very toned but in a different way to the gym.

“My body is in better shape than it has ever been and it’s better because I do yoga. And I feel a lot better.”

Tom Watt
Tom Watt

Tom Watt – EastEnders

Tom Watt played lovable Queen Vic barman Lofty Holloway from the start of the soap until 1988.

He had a minor role in 1992 movie Patriot Games and Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movie.

In an unexpected twist, Tom went on to become a sports journalist, working for talkSPORT, BT Sport and BBC Radio 5 Live.

He was ghost writer for David Beckham’s 2003 autobiography and is now a writer and consultant for EA Sports.

Tom also made a very brief return to EastEnders for Dr Legg’s funeral last year and was seen at the wake at the Queen Vic.

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