Who are the best child actors in our soaps?


Last night’s episode of EastEnders turned in one of the best performances from a child actor that I’ve seen in a long time; Jamie Borthwick who plays Jay played such a convincing and moving part last night when he found out about Billy’s betrayal, I actually cried as he wept on Dawn’s shoulder. I suspect he may be in for an award for that performance, just as he won Best Dramatic Young Actor/Actress at the British Soap Awards in 2008…

Here’s a clip from last night’s show when Phil has to help Dawn get Jay to the café…

However, I can’t help but find Molly Conlin as Dotty not only unbelievable but a tad wooden too although to be fair, given that a lot of her lines and scenes are with John Altman – who is equally as wooden a lot of the time – that’s perhaps why.

And of course, little Maisie Smith who plays Tiffany Dean does a fantastic job of portraying the urchin-like Tiff who’s forever getting into scrapes and schemes, but her performance when Wellard died was another that got me blubbing. She very deservedly won an award at this year’s British Soap Awards for her consistently excellent performances. Here’s a clip from the very emotional exit of EastEnders best-loved pooch and Tiffany’s lovely role during his farewell…

liam_butcher_james fordeI think another child actor on EastEnders who’s rather underappreciated is James Forde as Liam who shared part of that scene with Maisie.

He’s not often given much by way of lines in the show but I think he could well contribute some great performances if the writers gave him more to do.

However, another child soap actor who often gets to play very emotive scenes is Sam Aston as Chesney in Corrie, and like Jamie, he always makes a good job of them. He too has won awards for his performances over the years and he’s one of those kids who’s growing up on the set as did Kelvin Fletcher as Andy in Emmerdale.

Kelvin’s been in the show since he was 12 years old and has literally grown up before our eyes. His on-screen brother Daz played by Luke Tittensor was all set to do likewise but of course, since his conviction for assault, he’s now been fired. He and his twin brother Elliott began their TV careers in Channel 4’s Shameless in the role of Carl Gallagher, but since Luke left to work on Emmerdale, Elliott’s played Carl alone.

However in Emmerdale, if I were handing out awards for best child actor, it’d go to Eden Taylor-Draper for her part as Belle Dingle. And actually, she has won awards for her role, most notably at the British Soap Awards. She really is a little trouper and her character is totally believable as the precocious, wily and street-wise Belle.

Here’s a clip showing Eden accepting her 2007 award…

She’s grown a lot in the couple of years since then hasn’t she?!

I’ve noticed in Emmerdale lately that they’re starting to give Annelise Manojlovic as Gabi some lines, but I think it’s a tad early; she clearly not quite ready to be a full-on actress.

So who’s your favourite young actor or actress and equally, who do you think doesn’t quite cut it as a soapy kid?

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.