Emmerdale icon John Middleton looks so different with giant beard five years after soap exit

Emmerdale icon John Middleton looks hugely different in recent photographs, with the soap star now sporting a large grey beard.

The 69 year old, who portrayed Ashley Thomas in the hit ITV soap from 1996 until 2017, looked nearly unrecognisable in new videos and photographs shared on social media.

John is currently starring as Colonel Pickering in the UK tour production of the musical My Fair Lady, and he's appeared on the official Instagram account for the musical on a handful of occasions.

Recent posts showed the former soap star has swapped his usual clean shaven look for a full beard and grown his hair out slightly since exiting Emmerdale.

John was a favourite among Emmerdale fans during his 20-year stint on the soap, but he left the show in 2017 after his character succumbed to the dementia that he had been suffering from for two years.

John won huge praise for his portrayal of village vicar Ashley, and a special episode of Emmerdale, filmed through Ashley's eyes as his dementia progressed, was previously aired.

He's not the only soap legend starring in My Fair Lady, as EastEnders star Adam Woodyatt, who is famed for his portrayal of Ian Beale, is also part of the cast.

Adam, 54, stars in My Fair Lady as Alfred P Doolittle and the soap legend has also joined John in growing out his beard while away from EastEnders.

In a photo shared on his Instagram account, Adam could be seen looking worlds away from his usual look as he sported a long grey beard.

The I'm A Celebrity star looks to be enjoying his time away from Albert Square and has said he "couldn't be happier" to be starring in My Fair Lady.

"I’m enjoying every minute of it, but then how could I not performing in this show, with its iconic songs – I couldn’t be happier with the opportunity,” Adam told Sunderland Echo.

Adam took a break from playing Ian Beale over two years ago and is yet to reveal when he'll reprise his soap role.

He returned to Walford extremely briefly in December 2022, with Ian making a surprise appearance at the funeral of Dot Branning (June Brown) but he said goodbye and no other Albert Square residents spotted him.


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