HE was a Hollyoaks hunk and a nineties pin-up once voted Britain’s sexiest star and known for his high profile relationships.
But now life couldn’t be more different for Jeremy Edwards who has ditched showbusiness to become a teacher – preferring to live a life outside of the spotlight.
The 52-year-old dad-of-two – who played Kurt Benson on the hit Channel 4 soap – parted ways with his agent earlier this year so he could focus on teaching kids drama at Film UK in Hampshire.
He explains: “When Rishi Sunak was chancellor in lockdown he was saying that actor’s should look at other skills they could do.
“I agreed with him. I think that people don’t use their transferable skills enough.
“During Covid the simple fact was there was no work.
“And now there is an actor’s strike in America.
“There are so many reasons why you can be out of work and I thought, this is so unpredictable and I have a family. I thought I’ve got thirty years of experience here, what am I doing?
“I could be helping people. So I started doing some classes with people helping them with scripts and speeches and then it slowly developed into a business and now I work with various groups and I’m teaching kids in Hampshire.
“Sometimes I do five or six classes a week. Sometimes I will only do one or two.”
Jeremy’s mum has been a teacher all her life and he used to assist in her classes.
But he says helping young people is more fun and rewarding than acting.
He continues: “We are giving kids confidence which takes them forward in life. I’m not just teaching. I’m helping people.
“It’s a safe space for them.
“You get to pretend to be someone else for a bit and it’s fun.
“They know they aren’t going to get picked on, they know they are going to learn skills, and they are going to have fun on stage and they get to work with someone who was on TV.
“Even if they don’t go into acting they would have built up their confidence.”
At the height of his fame, Jeremy was engaged to S Club 7 star Rachel Stevens with their relationship documented heavily before they split in 2003.
The couple were offered £2 million for their wedding photos but turned the deal down, with Jeremy admitting it was a decision he regretted.
Jeremy revealed in May that he had suspicions Rachel may have had a fling but the S Club star came out and vehemently denied that.
I never enjoyed being famous or enjoyed the attention
Jeremy Edwards, 52
He went on to meet wife Lydia Metz and they married in 2009.
They now have two children together.
He quit showbiz to work as a builder in 2011, before rejoining the arts and taking on roles in several plays. It was then that he decided to move into the world of education.
And he admits some of the parents at Film UK had “a bit of a shock” seeing him in the classroom.
But he’s proud of the new direction his life has taken.
He says: “Afterwards some of them were like ‘oh I had you on a poster on my wall’. That’s all fun and games isn’t it.
“I think people get hung up on being the person they were when they were 25 and I think that’s bullshit. You’re not that guy. That’s a different time. Who knows in the future, I might be a famous film director, but acting, no.
“I never enjoyed being famous or enjoyed the attention.
“I loved meeting people, but you know people think they own a part of you when you are that famous, but now I just want to be with my children.”
Since leaving Hollyoaks, Jeremy played regular Danny Shaughnessy in Holby City and Mike Taylor in Millie Inbetween, as well as being a panellist and guest host on The Wright Stuff.
In October 2019, he appeared on the ITV series The X Factor: Celebrity, with ballroom dancer Brendan Cole.
But he says he was treated so badly on a job last year – he had to quit the profession for good.
He continues: “I’ve just left my agent. I’ve told them that I don’t want to do it anymore. I’m halfway through my working years so why not do something different? See what else you can do with your life.
“First time I got rid of them was last year but then a few months ago, I said: ‘I’m done.’
“I felt like I was wasting their time.
“They wanted to put me up for stuff and I wasn’t interested. I was saying I don’t want to be put up for something that is far away because then I’ll be away from the kids.
“There’s no money in it. No one is coming out to the theatre because no one’s got any money.
I really like acting but I don’t like the business. People are mean. You are just a product
Jeremy Edwards, 52
“People are barely going to the cinema. People are just streaming stuff.”
His last acting job was for six months in a play until July last year where Jeremy says “I worked my nuts off” but adds: “I got paid a pittance. Got treated appallingly.
“It doesn’t matter how much you have done in the past, they treat you like s***.
“You are playing to half empty theatres and you think, what are you doing with your life?”
He adds: “I really like acting but I don’t like the business. People are mean. You are just a product.
“It is dog eat dog.”
Now he says he gets more nervous walking into a classroom than he ever did performing on stage in front of six thousand people.
He says: “When I go on TV my heartbeat doesn’t move but when I go in front of a class the nerves are unbelievable. Kids don’t suffer fools. If you’re not on top of your game, the kids see it.
“Acting isn’t as creative as people make out. You are saying other people’s words. But with teaching it’s never the same with each class.”
He admits having a mortgage and kids spurs him on to keep working adding: “I’m terrified.
“I’ve always been freelance. Duncan Bannantyne said “if you want motivation, take on a load of debt”.
“I’ve got kids and a mortgage. I do get up early and put in hours of work but sometimes I struggle. I have to keep going and keep fighting and now I’m doing something I love again.”
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