Major soap character recasts from Ben Mitchell and Jamie Tate to Tracy Barlow and Lauren Branning

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When it comes to long-running soaps like Coronation Street, EastEnders and Emmerdale, it doesn't come as a surprise that a few actors playing regular characters get swapped out over the years.

Whether it's because they've been playing the role since they were a child like Ben Mitchell or Peter Beale, or an actor decides to leave the show but soap bosses still want the character like Martin Fowler's James Alexandrou.

It's become a running joke on EastEnders the amount of time Phil Mitchell's son has been recast, but Coronation Street's Peter Barlow has pipped him to the post with six different actors playing the character!

Let's take a look at the major soap recasts over the decades our favourite programmes have been on air…

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Ben Mitchell

EastEnders' Ben Mitchell is one of the most recast roles in soapland, just behind Peter Beale and Corrie's Peter Barlow.

Phil Mitchell's meddling son was first played by Matthew Silver when he was born in 1996, then Morgan Whittle appeared between 1999 and 2001.

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After staying in South Africa with his mum Kathy Beale, played by Gillian Taylforth, Ben returned in the form of Charlie Jones who played him until 2010. Joshua Pascoe then took over until he left the show in 2012 when he went to prison for Heather Trott's death.

Ben Mitchell returned and was played by Harry Reid in 2014, but was then written out in 2018, and came back for a fifth time as current actor Max Bowden who is in an onscreen relationship with Callum Highway, played by Tony Clay.

Jamie Tate

Emmerdale's Jamie Tate is played by actor Alexander Lincoln, who first joined the show in 2019, and is the sixth actor to play the character.

Kim Tate's son first appeared in the ITV soap in 1996 and was played by Jake Meays and Elliott Suckley. The next year, the role was taken over by Sam Silson and Oliver Carroll. From 1997 until 1999 when his onscreen mum left Jamie was played by Bradley White.

Todd Grimshaw

Todd Grimshaw was previously played on Coronation Street by actor Bruno Langley but the part disappeared from the cobbles in 2017 as Todd then fled Weatherfield while on the run.

Bruno, the well-known face behind character Todd, was sacked by Coronation Street bosses after he was accused and later found guilty of sexually assaulting two women in a Manchester nightclub.

Now, the part is being played by Welsh actor Gareth Pierce – who returned to the soap to demand money from his family.

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Nick Tilsley

Ben Price is the third actor to play fan-favourite character Nick Tilsley on Coronation Street.

Leanne Battersby's former flame has featured in Coronation Street since 1981, with two other different actors playing the role over the years.

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Nick was played by Warren Jackson as a child before he stepped down to concentrate on his GCSEs, then soap bosses recast his role hiring Adam Rickitt until 2004. Ben took over on Nick Tilsley's return in 2009, leaving the show briefly in 2017, before reprising his role again.

Peter Barlow

Coronation Street has been on our screen since 1960, so it's no surprise that Ken Barlow's eldest son has been played by seven different actors.

We're most familiar with Chris Gascoyne, who has played the character since on and off since 2000. But before him Peter was played by John Heannau, Christopher Dormer, Mark Duncan, Bill Roache's own son Linus and Joseph McKenner all between 1965 to 1977.

Nine years later David Lonsdale picked up the role, before Chris became Peter.

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Tracy Barlow

Who knew that any one other than Kate Ford played Tracy Barlow in Coronation Street? Well, before the actress joined the soap as Ken Barlow's daughter in 2002 the character was played by three other people.

Tracy was played by Christabel Finch from 1977 until 1981 and 1982 until 1983, before Holly Chamarette took over in 1985, appearing on-off until 1988.

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Dawn Acton then went on to play Deidre Barlow's daughter from 1988 until 1995, reprising the role in 1996 and 1997, before returning in 1999 in her final appearance.

Kate Ford has played Tracey until 2007 when she left, before returning for a brief stint in early 2010, and then at the end of that year full-time ever since.

Martin Fowler

Martin Fowler was the youngest son of the late Pauline and Arthur Fowler, and was played as a child by Jon Peyton Price until 1985.

By 1996 he was recast as James Alexandrou who went on to play Martin for a decade, when the actor decided to leave.

Martin was brought back by EastEnders bosses in 2019, but Alexandrou wasn't interested in coming back and James Bye was cast instead.


Lauren Branning

Jacqueline Jossa was the second person to play Lauren Branning in EastEnders, when she took over the older version of the character in 2010.

From 2006 to 2010 Max and Tanya’s eldest daughter was played by Madeline Duggan.


Robert Sugden

Emmerdale character Robert Sugden has been played by four different actors between 1986 and 2020.

First up was Richard Smith who starred in the soap between 1986-1989, then Christopher Smith stepped in for 12 years until 2001, when he was swapped for someone older and Karl Davies took over until 2005.

Ryan Hawley has only been playing the role since 2014, but he recently left. So who is next?

Peter Beale

Ian Beale's son Peter Beale in EastEnders has been played by a whopping six different actors over since the character was first introduced in 1993.

First as baby Peter, played by Francis Brittin-Snell until 1996, then Alex Stevens, Joseph Shade played him from 1998 until 2004 and James Martin between 2004 and 2006.

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Thomas Law played Peter between 2006-2010 and Ben Hardy stepped into the role in 2013 unti l2015, before the bright lights of Hollywood came calling and he joined the cast of X-Men.

After five years without Peter in Albert Square, Ian Beale, aka Adam Woodyatt, welcomed his son back as a considerably taller Dayle Hudson.

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