EastEnders

What EastEnders’ Wicks family stars are doing now – from hunk’s horror fall to Strictly romance & surprise Wembley gig

One actor battled alcohol and drug abuse for years

EASTENDERS fans are in for a shock when Walford stalwart Dean Wicks returns to the Square after a seven year absence.

The BBC has announced the return of Matt Di Angelo in the role of the East End bad boy, who has been taken on as a new business partner to the Beales.

Matt joined the show as a baby-faced 19-year-old but left in 2016 after a controversial rape storyline

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Matt joined the show as a baby-faced 19-year-old but left in 2016 after a controversial rape storyline
Matt competed on Strictly and fell for his dance partner Flavia Cacace on the show

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Matt competed on Strictly and fell for his dance partner Flavia Cacace on the showCredit: WENN

Dean – the brother of Danny Dyer’s Mick Carter –  was driven out of  Walford by his family after a rape storyline involving Mick’s wife Linda (Kellie Bright) in 2016.

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He’s set to cause a stir among the family as he makes his presence in Walford known – and protests his innocence to anyone who will listen.

Away from the Square, Matt starred on Strictly in 2007, making it to the final and finding love on the dance floor with his partner Flavia Cacace.

The romance – which allegedly caused the split between Flavia and her long term partner Vincent Simone – lasted three years and ended when the pro dancer waltzed off with her then Strictly partner Jimi Mistry in 2010.

Matt is now happily settled with wife Sophia Perry; they married in 2021 and the couple share one-year-old twins Raphael and Daphne.

As well as EastEnders, Matt, 36, has starred in the drama Hustle and, more recently, played Francesco Alidosi in the historical drama Borgia and starred in the 2016 drama Ordinary Lies.

While Dean’s mum Shirley – Linda Henry – is still a resident, many of the Wicks clan have long since disappeared.

Here’s what happened to the stars who played the rest of the soap family.

Blur legend

Phil performed at Wembley earlier this year

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Phil performed at Wembley earlier this year

Actor Phil Daniels shot to fame in the Mod movie Quadrophenia in 1979, along with Brit movies Scum and Breaking Glass.

He is also a legend in the world of Britpop, after providing vocals for the Blur 1994 hit Park Life, and starred in the music video as a dodgy double glazing salesman.

In 2006 he joined EastEnders as Kevin Wicks – the ex-husband of Shirley and dad to Jimbo and Carly. He stayed for two years before he was killed off in a New Year’s Eve car crash.

The actor, now 65, didn’t take his fatal exit well, complaining in a 2015 interview that EastEnders had “run its course” and should be axed.

Phil was first out of Strictly after taking to the floor in 2008, and has also appeared on Celebrity Masterchef.

His association with the Blur anthem has led to an enduring relationship with the band, and he appeared on stage to voice Parklife during their sellout shows at Wembley Stadium earlier this year.

Phil was in a 30-year relationship with record company executive Jan Stevens until her tragic death from pancreatic cancer in 2012, and has a daughter, Ella, 33.

Horror accident and addiction

Paul went from teen soap star to addict

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Paul went from teen soap star to addict

Paul Nicholls was just 17 when he took on the role of Joe Wicks in 1996, and was an instant hit with teen fans.

The son of David and Lorraine, he took on a dramatic storyline when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and attempted suicide.

After leaving in 1997, Paul starred in the movie Goodbye Charlie Bright and appeared in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and numerous TV dramas, including Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

He went through some serious personal drama of his own; in 2017 the actor almost died after falling from a waterfall in Koh Samui, Thailand.

He was stranded at the bottom for three days before finally being rescued by police and medics, after locals found his motorbike abandoned nearby. He suffered broken legs and a shattered knee.

According to Paul, now 44, he battled 37 different infections including malaria, cholera and dengue fever.

A year later he suffered a stroke, which caused depression and led to an addiction to painkiller dihydrocodeine and cocaine.

He told The Sun: “At certain points I’d be gone for three or four days and not sleep at all. I stopped caring, I pressed the ‘f*** it’ button.

“The last time I ended up in a flat with people smoking stuff, doing this and doing that. They recognised me. I was looking around and I thought, ‘If I don’t stop, I will die’.”

Now sober, Paul recently landed a role in a new drama, aptly titled Phoenix Rising.

House husband

Nick Berry retired from acting

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Nick Berry retired from acting

Nick Berry’s stint as Simon Wicks between 1985 and 1990 propelled him into overnight fame and earned him soap pin-up status, as well as a long romance with co-star Gillian Taylforth, who played his stepmum Cathy.

It also launched a pop career, with his single Every Loser Wins topping the charts for three weeks.

He went on to star as PC Nick Rowan in Heartbeat, and scored another hit with a single of the same name – the show’s theme tune – in 1992.

But after a stint in Harbour lights from 1999 to 2000, Nick, now 60, retired from acting to raise his sons Louis, now 28, and Finley, 25, with wife Rachel Robertson.

“I chose to be a stay-at-home dad and have loved it,” he told the Daily Mail in 2011.

“I always said that when the boys were teenagers I could go back, but the longer you don’t do something the harder it is to do it, and I haven’t really missed it. While I’d never say never, I’m genuinely happy as I am.”

The family live in Epping, Essex.

Corrie star

Jacqueline is now on the cobbles

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Jacqueline is now on the cobbles

Jacqueline Leonard played Lorraine Wicks, ex-wife of David, for a year from 1996. She is also mum to Joe and Karen, who had died in a tragic car crash before the family moved to the Square.

She went on to star in Peak Practice and played Dr Caroline Powers in Doctors from 2000 to 2001.

More recently soap fans have spotted her in Coronation Street in the recurring role of Linda, Chesney’s former mother-in-law and grandma to his son Joseph, and as Lydia Murdoch in River City.

Jacqueline, 57, is married to actor Alex Mansfield.

Retired

Michael now lives a quiet life

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Michael now lives a quiet life

Smooth talker David Wicks was played by heartthrob Michael French, who first appeared at the funeral of screen dad Peter Beale.

Among many explosive storylines he was forced to tell Bianca he was her real father – after she attempted to kiss him while drunk – and he betrayed half-brother Ian by sleeping with his wife Cindy.

David left Walford in 1996 but returned in 2012, before finally leaving after splitting from Carol Branning in 2014.

That same year Michael appeared in a stage version of Sound of Music, but he’s believed to have since retired from acting and lives a quiet life in Essex.

Shock pregnancy

Kellie played Carly in the soap

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Kellie played Carly in the soap

Kellie Shirley, now 41, played Shirley and Kevin’s daughter Carly from 2006 to 2008, leaving to live in Australia before making a brief return in 2012.

She has since starred in Call the Midwife and Doctors, among other shows.

In 2016 she and husband Phil Davies welcomed twins Pearl and Louie at King’s College Hospital.

Seven years later, in March this year, she gave birth to a third child after a shock pregnancy.

The actress, 42, was filming the summer before when she fell ill, telling OK!: “I was literally on my hands and knees feeling horrendous and the on-set medic called John said, ‘Are you sure you’re not pregnant?’

“I was like, ‘Oh no, I’m hardly seeing my husband! It’s just this heat’.”

Two weeks later she got a pregnancy test which was positive, adding:  “It was a really lovely surprise. I feel very lucky.”

Double role

Leslie as Brian and later as Jeff, with Tamzin Outhwaite

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Leslie as Brian and later as Jeff, with Tamzin Outhwaite

Leslie Schofield played Pat Butcher’s second husband Brian Wicks, who caused a stir in 1988 when it was revealed he was Simon’s real father from an affair he had with Pat while she was still married to Peter Beale.

Leslie returned to the Square as a completely different character, portraying the character Jeff Healy – dad to Tamzin Outhwaite’s Mel Owen – between 1997 and 2000.

Jeff had an on-screen affair with Pauline Fowler, played by Wendy Richard, which ended in a rejected marriage proposal – prompting his exit from Walford.

The Oldham-born actor, now 84, previously starred in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and several episodes of Doctor Who.

His last screen role was in Midsomer Murders in 2006.

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