The most bizarre soap recasts from EastEnders’ Peter Beale ‘growing 2ft’ and Hollyoaks fave becoming an adult over night

THE worlds of Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks are places where people change heads every now and then.

Mostly the characters look somewhat similar to their last incarnation – but sometimes they change beyond all recognition.

From Peter Beale growing almost a foot overnight to the adult actress cast as a 14-year-old, we look at the soap characters who have dramatically changed over the years.

Peter Beale – EastEnders

EastEnders fans were left baffled in February when Peter Beale returned from New Zealand, significantly taller than when he left.

Actor Dayle Hudson replaced original Ben Hardy, who quit for a Hollywood career and roles in Bohemian Rhapsody and X-Men: Apolocalpyse.

The trouble was that newcomer Dayle, a statuesque 6ft 3in, towers over 5ft 8in Ben.

One fan tweeted: "Good god peter Beale wasn’t 7ft when he left #EastEnders."

Sonny Valentine – Hollyoaks 

Ex-EastEnder Devon Anderson played the teenage Sonny from 2006 to 2007, when he was reportedly sacked for time-keeping issues.

The character stayed away from the Dog and Pond for seven years before returning as a very grown up and considerably hotter Detective Sergeant, played by Aaron Fontaine.

Peggy Mitchell – EastEnders

When the former landlady of the Queen Vic is mentioned, EastEnders fans fondly remember screen legend Barbara Windsor.

But Babs wasn’t the first Peggy Mitchell – she was originally played by actress Jo Warne.

She first made an appearance in 10 episodes broadcast in 1991 but returned to the Square, in the form of the Carry On star, in 1994.

Nick Tilsley – Coronation Street

Warren Jackson played Gail’s oldest son from the ages of 14 days to 15, when he disappeared off to Canada to live with his uncle.

On his return, a year later, he had transformed from a skinny teen into a floppy-haired Adam Rickitt, with rippling biceps and an impressive six pack.

Adam left in 2004 and five years later yet another non-lookalike was cast and current Nick, Ben Price, took over.

Holly Cunningham – Hollyoaks

Viewers were bemused when original actress Lydia Waters was replaced in the role of 14-year-old Holly by Wallis Day.

At 18, she was four years older than the character – and looked even older.

She left after a year and was replaced by a third actress – Amanda Clapham who made the role her own.

Ben Mitchell – EastEnders

Cutie turned killer Ben Mitchell wins the prize as the most recast of all the soapies, having been played by SIX different actors.

As a baby and toddler, Phil’s son was played by Matthew Silver and Morgan Whittle and baby-faced Charlie Jones took over as 10-year-old Ben in 2006 – introducing the famous glasses that went on to grace the face of three more actors.

Joshua Pascoe played Ben for two years from 2010, but was sacked over an alleged sex assault, although no charges were brought.

Ben then left the square and returned two years later, all grown up, in the guise of Harry Reid.

But the biggest transformation came in 2019, when the current Ben Mitchell, Max Bowden, stepped in, ditched the glasses and looked as far from the cute, bespectacled kid as it’s possible to be.

Max Turner – Coronation Street

It comes to something when the most shocking recast is the one that leaves viewers wondering if they need their eyes testing.

Last week in Corrie, David Platt's adopted son got a brand new face – but was so similar to the last that fans didn't know if he'd just had a growth spurt.

Actor Paddy Bever took over the role from Harry McDermott who had played Max for 11 years.

Derek Branning – EastEnders

Hardman Derek – played by Jamie Foreman – terrified and intimidated the residents of Albert Square when he moved back in 2011.

But his previous incarnation in 1996, in the form of Terence Beasley, was not quite as scary – and got beaten up by David Wicks before ending up in prison.

The spell inside not only hardened him up but completely changed his looks.

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