Soap stars with side hustles – from Emmerdale icon who flogs ‘sex spells’ to Corrie legend’s cafe & couple’s toy company


GIVEN they’re on our screens up to five times a week, it’s hard to imagine soap stars have time for a cheeky side hustle.

But this week Emmerdale actor Jonny McPherson, who plays Dr Liam Cavanagh, revealed he did a stint as an Airbnb host.

Jonny McPherson used to rent out his canal boat home on Airbnb

He shared the narrowboat with his dog Mollie

The 41-year-old rented out the 60ft narrowboat he used to live on before he moved to his countryside home in the Dales.

Jonny told OK! Magazine he became a landlord to raise extra cash and it “really took off”, but after a while it became difficult to manage.

He said: “I was having to check in guests at 10pm on a Friday evening on top of my full-time role in Emmerdale and I decided to sell.”

He added: “A few people got very giddy standing on Dr Liam’s boat.”

Jonny’s not the only star of Hollyoaks, Emmerdale, Corrie and EastEnders to have taken on a lucrative side-line career that’s totally different to their day job, as we reveal…

Matthew Wolfenden and Charley Webb – Toy company

Charley Webb has now quit Emmerdale, but her husband Matthew Wolfenden, 43, is still on the ITV soap as David Metcalfe.

He also plays an active role in the eco-friendly, Scandinavian-inspired toy company they set up in 2020.

Matthew Wolfenden and Charley Webb have an eco-friendly toy company off-screen

Matt and Charley launched Nördi Bäbi in 2020, selling wooden kids toys

The couple announced their venture, Nördi Bäbi – which Charley said translates as “Northern Baby” – in 2020, and have been very successful.

The baby brand sells solid, chunky wooden toys ranging from pull-alongs to reading blocks and playsets.

Charley, 35, said: “We’ve wanted to do this for years and we’ve finally got to the stage where we can make it happen.

“Scandinavian style is my favourite, whether it’s toys or decor, and with Nördi Bäbi we hope to bring you a little bit of what we love.”

Roxy Shahidi – Yoga teacher

Roxy Shahidi teaches yoga away from her acting on Emmerdale

Actress Roxy Shahidi is best known for playing Leyla Harding in Emmerdale, but she is also a qualified yoga teacher. 

The 40-year-old has been in the soap on and off since 2009, and combines her acting career with teaching regular classes in Nottingham.

Roxy also regularly shares short classes on her Instagram page, which is littered with snaps of her in impossibly bendy poses.

Jennie McAlpine – Runs a cafe

Jennie McAlpine owns a cafe in Manchester with her husband Chris Farr

Jennie McAlpine is one of Corrie’s best-loved stars, having played Fiz Stape on the cobbles since 2001 – though she’s set to depart this year to go on maternity leave.

Off-screen, she’s owned Manchester tearoom Annie’s with her husband Chris Farr since December 2012.

Like most restaurants, the charming tearoom – located in the Royal Exchange building in the city centre – was forced to close at the start of the pandemic.

Jennie, 39, spoke of how pleased they were to be able to reopen the venue on May 17 2020, writing on Twitter: “So pleased our brilliant restaurant team can get back to doing what they love.”

She also shared a tweet from the restaurant two weeks after their busy reopening, saying: “We’re loving seeing all our old friends and lots of new ones!”

Samantha Giles – Magic spells

Samantha sells magic spells and charms online

Samantha Giles left Emmerdale in November 2019 after playing Bernice Blackstock on and off for two decades.

The actress went on to launch a website selling £16.99 spells and £18 magic kits, some of which claimed to help you sell your house or have safe sex.

She also published a children’s novel in lockdown, called Rosemary And The Witches Of Pendle Hill.

Samantha, 51, is now back on the soap, but still runs her website selling a range of spells and charms.

Jaz Singh Deol – Property business

Jaz Singh Deol is the owner of a property company away from his life on EastEnders

Jaz shared pictures of his work renovating properties

Jaz played Kheerat Panesar on EastEnders from 2019 until his shock exit in November.

Fans previously feared he was about to quit when he revealed he’d launched a property company in 2021.

The star, 34, shared Instagram updates on the houses he was renovating. Alongside a picture from his first project, he wrote: “And so it begins! Here is the my first BTL [buy-to-let] property in my portfolio.”

Stars who quit soaps for ‘normal’ jobs

Tony Discipline – Fireman

Tony Discipline played Tyler Moon on EastEnders, but is now a firefighter

Tony Discipline played Tyler Moon, the cousin of Alfie Moon, on EastEnders from 2011 until he was written out in 2013.

But he’s now quit acting for firefighting.

Hunky Tony, 34 – who once dated Jacqueline Jossa – often shares photos of himself proudly posing in his uniform at work on Instagram.

Gemma Merna – Personal trainer

Gemma Merna was bubbly Carmel McQueen in Hollyoaks and is now a yoga teacher

Gemma Merna is best known for playing Carmel McQueen in Hollyoaks.

The actress starred in the Channel 4 soap from 2006 to 2014, but has since taken a different career path.

Gemma, 39, is now a personal trainer and yoga teacher with her own yoga app.

Working from a studio, she regularly keeps fans updated on her Instagram page.

Sean Wilson – Cheesemaker

Sean Wilson is now an award-winning cheesemaker since leaving Corrie

Sean Wilson, who played Martin Platt in Coronation Street for 21 years, now has a completely different career – as an award-winning cheesemaker.

After leaving the soap in 2005, Sean, 58, fulfilled his lifelong passion of becoming a chef, training for a year.

He then founded the Saddleworth Cheese Company with his best friend Mark Revell in 2009.

Adam Thomas – Bar owner

Adam Thomas owns a bar with his friend now he’s left Emmerdale

Adam Thomas played Adam Barton on Emmerdale between 2009 and 2018.

After he left the soap, he opened a restaurant and bar with his school friend Scott Graham in September 2019.

The Spinn is located in Stockport near Manchester and specialises in burgers, wings and wraps.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Adam, 34, and Scott managed to keep the restaurant going thanks to a delivery service.

Adam also did his bit by offering up free food to NHS staff at the start of the lockdown back in March 2020.

Adam Rickitt – Craft beer shop

Former Corrie and Hollyoaks star Adam Rickitt and his wife own a bar in Cheshire

Adam Rickitt shot to fame when he took over the role of Nick Tilsley in Coronation Street back in 1997.

After leaving Corrie in the late Nineties, he had a hit song with I Breathe Again.

And then he returned to Soapland in 2017 when he joined Hollyoaks as Kyle Kelly, where he remained until June 2020 when his character took his own life in harrowing scenes.

Away from the limelight, Adam, 44, and his presenter wife Katy bought popular craft beer bottle shop, gin specialist and micro bar Dexter and Jones in Knutsford, Cheshire, at the end of 2019.

Alfie Brown-Sykes – Roofer

Since leaving Hollyoaks, Alfie Brown-Sykes has become a roofer

Alfie Browne-Sykes, 28, played Jason Roscoe on Hollyoaks until 2016, but he’s now working as a roofer.

And he hates it when people recognise him at work.

On Joseph James’s Just Real podcast, he said: “Going to work every day, working on people’s roofs and them recognising you from Hollyoaks is a hard thing to deal with at first – especially when they make comments and don’t realise what they are saying to you.”

Alfie’s also still acting; he landed a part in the Tracy Beaker spin-off Dumping Ground in 2017, followed by a theatre tour of Sebastian Faulks’ war drama Birdsong.

Charlie Clements – Chef

Since leaving EastEnders, Charlie Clements has become a chef

‘Enders fans were left heartbroken in 2010 when lovable Bradley Branning, played by Charlie Clements, plummeted to his death after falling off the Queen Vic roof.

Last year, the actor – now 35 – revealed he had been working as a chef in order to make ends meet during lockdown.

Charlie proudly posted a photo in his uniform, and recently revealed he was making sushi at work.

He’s still acting too, starring in a West End production of The Mousetrap last summer.

Hetti Bywater – Pub worker

Former EastEnders star Hetti Bywater has been seen pulling pints in a London pub

Stunning Hetti took over the role of Lucy Beale in 2012, and was central to a huge whodunnit? storyline two years later.

The nation was rocked when it was revealed that the character’s little brother Bobby had murdered her.

The 28-year-old has had other acting roles since leaving Walford, but has also been spotted pulling pints in a London pub while between jobs.

Music career

Bethannie Hare played Cher McQueen on Hollyoaks before launching a singing career

Last year we revealed Bethannie Hare – who played Cher McQueen on Hollyoaks – started a music career.

She often shares home videos of her cover versions of songs, from Kings of Leon’s Sex on Fire to Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles tracks, and has been doing gigs while acting for a while.

The 23-year-old had her first show since leaving Hollyoaks at The Domino Club in Leeds in February last year, and has since sang at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.