Who'd be a child in the soap world? If anything remotely interesting happens (as it often does...), you can bet your life that you'll miss out through being ushered upstairs to brush your teeth. Then, years later when you're finally old enough to properly take part, chances are that some pushy producer will decide it's time to axe or recast you. Where's the justice?
But what happens to soap kids after they're finally free of their feckless on-screen parents? Here, we reminisce over some of the most memorable and reveal what they look like now...
1. Charlie Jones (Ben Mitchell, EastEnders)
With the iconic "slapping down" moment and the Lady Gaga dance routines, there's no way we'll ever forget this version of Ben Mitchell. We may not have heard from him for a while but Charlie Jones, who played Ben between 2006 and 2010, seems to have grown up into quite a handsome chap.
According to his Twitter page, the experience of playing this often-bullied version of Ben hasn't scarred him for life, either. Turns out he's still quietly training as an actor (now going by the name Charlie Chambers), so could another soap snap him up? Stranger things have happened...
2. Sebastian Elmaloglou (Max Sutherland, Home and Away)
Remember little Max? He was one of the few soap kids who actually had some decent storylines, including love triangles, boxing showdowns, his girlfriend's untimely death, and even a shock mineshaft collapse. Blimey – and he was only there for less than three years!
Max may now be a distant memory since his 2004 exit was so long ago, but Sebastian has since worked behind the scenes at Home and Away and recently completed work on a short film. He's also seemingly quite the photographer and adventurer, so his @intepic Instagram account – that's a mix of "intense" and "epic", if you were wondering – is worth a look too.
3. Brittany Papple (Louise Mitchell, EastEnders)
Louise may have returned to EastEnders in 2016 with new recruit Tilly Keeper taking over the role, but we still haven't forgotten the stress of worrying about the last version, who was memorably tormented by Ben Mitchell.
Despite EastEnders producers opting for a recast when bringing back Louise, we may not have seen the last of Brittany as she's been training at Millennium Performing Arts (and graduated in 2017).
4. Jay Duffy (Declan Brady, Hollyoaks)
When it comes to fathers, Jay must be counting his lucky stars. Not only is he the son of Boyzone favourite Keith Duffy, he also got the chance to play the offspring of Hollyoaks ledge Brendan Brady in 2011. His character Declan's storylines ranged from slightly dull (having a kickabout at the park) to bloody bonkers (being kidnapped by his dad's mortal enemy and only just living to tell the tale).
Since leaving Hollyoaks and finishing school, Jay has taken on theatre projects, as well as filming a guest appearance on Vikings. And if Hollyoaks ever want him back, his Instagram implies he's prepared himself well for those topless scenes, just in case...
5. Madeline Duggan (Lauren Branning, EastEnders)
She may have fallen victim to the recast rigmarole in 2010, but at least Madeline can say that she has an iconic EastEnders moment under her belt. It was Madeline's version of Lauren who memorably exposed Stacey and Max's affair in THAT unforgettable Christmas double bill in 2007 – and few festive specials since have matched it for unmissable drama.
These days, glam Madeline looks like she'd fit right in on any of the soaps – but she's mainly concentrated on TV dramas in recent years, with guest roles on the likes of Silent Witness, The Tunnel and The Smoke.
6. Oscar Lloyd (Will Wylde, Emmerdale)
As the only Wylde who wasn't too involved in outlandish murder cover-ups or vengeful schemes in 2010, little Will is probably the forgotten member of the clan. And that madam Belle Dingle certainly forgot about him quickly, since they were declaring their undying love for each other when he left.
We'd barely recognise Oscar these days, but he's been keeping busy. After leaving Emmerdale, he became a regular on children's series The 4 O'Clock Club and made guest appearances on other shows like Doctor Who and The Coroner. We've always held out hope that Will's scheming brother Nathan will return to Emmerdale at some point, so perhaps he could bring his younger sibling along too?
7. Thomas Law (Peter Beale, EastEnders)
Thomas's exit as Peter always seemed a bit of a shame. Just as he was coming into his own as an older teen character in 2010, he was off to join his twin sister Lucy in Devon. This left Ian lacking direction on the Square without his family around.
We'll be honest – we wouldn't be opposed to EastEnders "doing a Sam Mitchell" with Peter by swapping his head back to Thomas's, despite Ben Hardy playing him more recently. But if that doesn't happen, Tom's kept busy regardless – starring alongside Simon Pegg in The World's End, touring the country with Beautiful Thing and even playing a handsome prince in a sequel to A Cinderella Story.
8 & 9. Fletcher and Blake O'Leary (Mickey Gannon and Ben Kirk, Neighbours)
These two real-life brothers were on-screen friends on Neighbours. Fletcher played Ned Parker's very annoying (sorry, Fletch!) son Mickey between 2007 and 2009, while Blake portrayed Libby Kennedy's slightly more bearable child Ben between 2007 and 2010.
We hadn't heard too much from the pair since their exits, but they popped up and posed for pictures at Neighbours' 30th anniversary party in Australia in 2015. Fletcher is pretty unrecognisable with his longer hair, but Blake's change is slightly less mind-blowing...
10. Rebecca Ritters (Hannah Martin, Neighbours)
Hannah Martin grew up before our eyes on Ramsay Street between 1992 and 1999. Rebecca may have played one of the most memorable characters from that era, but she's now out of the acting world for good. She's even told her Twitter followers that she barely remembers her time on Neighbours as it was so long ago. (We can send you the Defining Moments DVD for a refresher, Bec!)
Now looking very sophisticated, Rebecca is working as a producer and journalist in Berlin. Her on-screen newsagent dad Philip would be proud...
11. Megan Jossa (Courtney Mitchell, EastEnders)
Nope, Lauren Branning star Jacqueline wasn't the first Jossa to make an impact in Walford. In 2006, her cousin Megan played the role of Grant Mitchell's daughter Courtney, who fitted right in with the Mitchells thanks to her outspoken attitude.
After leaving EastEnders, Megan appeared in The Bill, Coming of Age and The Take. Her Twitter bio reveals that she's still in the acting game, but EastEnders still opted to recast the role of Grant's daughter when he returned in 2016, with Alice Nokes briefly taking over the part.
12. Maisie Smith (Tiffany Butcher, EastEnders)
Maisie always stood out as one of the most natural performers in EastEnders' young cast during her original six-year stint on the Square between 2008 and 2014. Patsy Palmer's exit from the show meant that little Tiff had to leave before she got the chance to explore some more grown-up storylines, but it wasn't the last we'd see of young Maisie.
Now queen of the Instagram selfie, Maisie managed to get herself trending on Facebook in 2015 when everyone suddenly spotted that she looks a bit older these days (who knew?). She also has her own YouTube channel where she interacts directly with her fans. And even more excitedly, she's found time to release a single called 'Good Thing', as well as returning to EastEnders briefly for Whitney's wedding in 2016 and as a show regular in 2018. Busy girl!
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