Top 10 British Soap Stars On Film

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Top 10 British Soap Stars On Film

The worlds of small-time gangsters and burnt-out City Boys collide in the hugely entertaining, fast-paced crime thriller The Smoke, arriving on DVD and digital platforms from October 20th, 2014 courtesy of Signature Entertainment. The Smoke stars Matt Di Angelo and Anna Passey who are famous for their roles in classic British Soap Operas Eastenders and Hollyoaks¸ respectfully. Here we look back at other Soap-stars who have attempted to make the big leap to The Big Screen. Some successfully, others not so…

Matt Di Angelo and Anna Passey – from EastEnders and Hollyoaks to The Smoke

After entering their careers as soap stars on EastEnders and Hollyoaks, respectfully, Matt Di Angelo and Anna Passey make their film debuts in the new gangster crime thriller, The Smoke. In Hollyoaks Passey played Sienna Blake, a beautiful, clever and calculating character who entered the village with her controlling father, Patrick, but stays with her estranged twin brother, Dodger. Di Angelo began on EastEnders as Dean Wicks in 2006, a dark, brooding man with a chip on his shoulder, leaving in a whirlwind of violence and drama in 2008, but returning to Walford this year. After his further successes on TV in Hustle and Brogia, Di Angelo has landed the starring role in The Smoke as city lawyer Brad Walker. In the worst day of his life, Brad’s high-maintenance girlfriend Sasha (Passey) has unceremoniously ditched him for his so-called friend Tom (Christian Brassington) and to add insult to injury he’s just been fired. On a night out drowning his sorrows with old friend Dean (Jeff Leach), he happens to overhear a conversation between Phil (Darren Ripley) and Ben (Stephen Marcus) – two drug dealers working for small-time gangster Jack (Alan Ford). In no time at all, Brad manages to make off with a sports car, a call girl and £400,000 in cash… But that’s just the start.



Martine McCutcheon – from EastEnders to Love, Actually

Martine McCutcheon first starred in the role of Tiffany Raymond, the abandoned child of Louise, on the popular BBC Soap Opera EastEnders. As the role of Tiffany grew, so did McCutcheon’s popularity, and 22 million viewers tuned in to see her final scenes in Albert Square on New Year’s Eve in 1998. In this episode McCutcheon’s character was run over and killed by one of Frank Butcher’s dodgy used cars, thereby killing her EastEnders career. In 2003, after a brief and failed attempt at a pop music career, McCutcheon featured in her first major film role. She appeared as tea-lady Natalie in the Richard Curtis romantic comedy Love Actually, now a Christmas-classic, where the British Prime Minister (played by Hugh Grant) falls in love with McCutcheon’s character. McCutcheon and Grant’s budding relationship is exposed when a curtain is raised on them kissing at big finale of a school play.

Jude Law – from Families to The Talented Mr. Ripley

Arguably Britain’s biggest soap-star-to-movie-star success is Jude Law, now one of Hollywood’s finest actors. Unbeknownst to most, Law began his acting career rather unglamorously with a two-year stint as Nathan Thompson in Granada TV’s ill-fated and little-watched Soap Opera, Families. This weekly Soap Opera told the relationship of two families, the Thompsons (in England) and the Stevens (in Australia). The main storyline concentrated on Mike Thompson leaving his family to move in with Diane Stevens and the complications that ensued. Law was one of the few cast-members of Families to go on to bigger and better things, since starring in Hollywood blockbusters The Talented Mr Ripley, Alfie, Enemy at the Gates and most recently Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Sir Ben Kingsley – from Coronation Street to Gandhi 

Like Jude Law, many forget that acting legend Sir Ben Kingsley CBE began his career rather unglamorously on a Soap Opera. In Kingsley’s case, he played Coronation Street’s Ron Jenkins from 1966-7, a character who courted the attention of Irma Barlow. Irma encouraged his attention, but when Ron stole her compact and refused to give it back until she agreed to a date, the only way she could get rid of him was to introduce him to her husband and face the consequences. Since Coronation Street, Kingsley has won an Oscar, Grammy, BAFTA, two Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards. He is most famously known for his starring role as Mohandas Gandhi in the Richard Attenborough 1982 film Gandhi, however he also went on to feature in award-winning blockbuster films Schindler’s List , Sexy Beast, Lucky Number Slevin, Shutter Island, and Iron Man 3.

Judi Shekoni – Eastenders to Garfield 2 and Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Judi Shekoni first starred on TV as Marjorie “Precious” Hudson, the glamorous girlfriend of Angel Hudson (Goldie) on EastEnders. Following her experience on EastEnders Shekoni moved to LA in search of work on the big screen. Whilst she was initially unsuccessful, playing small parts such as a tour guide in Garfield 2, Shekoni recently landed the role of Amazonian vampire Zafrina in Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2. Interestingly, Shekoni only landed her Twilight audition after spotting an advert for the role in a trade magazine, going to show that you need luck as well as talent to make the leap from Soap Opera to film.

Louisa Lytton — from EastEnders and The Bill to American Pie: Book of Love

Louisa Lytton starred in two Soap Operas before her efforts to make it in film. Lytton went from playing much-troubled teenager Ruby Allen in EastEnders to being Sun Hill’s young and cautious PC Beth Green in The Bill. In between EastEnders and The Bill, Lytton starred successfully in the 2006 TV dance competition Strictly Come Dancing. Off the back of The Bill, Lytton played a British exchange student in the painfully contrived and unwatchable seventh straight-to-DVD American Pie instalment, Book of Love. Louisa Lytton’s case is certainly an example of how not to make it onto the big-screen.

Alan Cumming – from Take the High Road to GoldenEye, Spy Kids and The X Men

Part-time Scot, naturalised American and respected film, TV and theatre actor Alan Cumming OBE is known for his political activism as well as being an established Hollywood actor. Cumming can often be seen campaigning and promoting rights for LGBT, but he established his career appearing in the likes of The X Men (and its sequels), bond film GoldenEye and the Spy Kids movies. However Cumming’s roots also lie in Soap Opera – remembered by those north of the border as evil woodcutter Jim Hunter in Scottish soap Take the High Road in the early eighties. Take the High Road started in February 1980 as an ITV daytime soap opera, but was dropped by most stations in the 1990s, although Scottish Television, Grampian Television, Border Television and Ulster Television continued to screen the programme until the last episode.

Jimi Mistry – from EastEnders to East is East, Blood Diamond, 2012, Coronation Street

Jimi Mistry is most readily recognised for playing Dr. Fred Fonseca in EastEnders during the late 1990s, a role that began his career on TV and enabled him to make the big jump to Hollywood. In 2006 Mistry starred opposite none other than Leonardo Di Caprio in Blood Diamond, and then alongside John Cuszack in apocalyptic film 2012. After experiencing a taste of Hollywood, appearing in these impressive film roles, Mistry has uniquely made the return jump back to Soap Operas and can now be seen as former army soldier and personal trainer Kal Nazir in Coronation Street. Mistry’s career path goes to show that some actors cannot help but return to their Soap Opera roots.

Many film actors and actresses begin their careers on Soap Opera sets, learning their craft through hard graft and tough hours. Few make it to the big screen, but occasionally British soap stars break through and become film stars. In The Smoke, available on DVD from 20th October, Matt Di Angelo and Anna Passey attempt their breakthroughs onto the big screen. High-octane, gritty, and with its tongue firmly in its cheek, The Smoke holds its own as an action-packed British gangster thriller that keeps its sense of humour – while showing just how quickly your luck can change in the Smoke…

The worlds of small-time gangsters and burnt-out City Boys collide in the hugely entertaining, fast-paced crime thriller The Smoke, arriving on DVD and digital platforms from October 20th, 2014 courtesy of Signature Entertainment.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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