EastEnders legend is unrecognisable with huge beard and grey hair 18 years after quitting fame to be a stay at home dad

EASTENDERS legend Nick Berry was spotted on his local high street today looking unrecognisable with a huge beard and grey hair.

Nick played heartthrob Simon "Wicksy" Wicks on the BBC One soap – but quit fame 18 years ago to be a stay at home dad.

The 58-year-old looked stylish in a yellow puffer coat and aviator sunglasses, and sporting a new hair do.

He carried two fresh loaves of bread home and appeared to be enjoying his walk in the sunshine.

His former EastEnders co-star Sid Owen recently heaped praise on him for taking him under his wing when Sid first played Ricky Butcher.

He wrote in biography From Rags to Riches: "Nick was such a lovely, modest guy.

"As soon as he discovered I was living in a squat in Islington, quite close to the posher bit where he'd bought a flat, he offered to drive me up to work and back again.

"Nick used to be really into classic cars and I'll never forget the first time he turned up outside the squat in a gleaming Jaguar E-Type, ready to drive me to work.

"He was a big star, a proper household name, and when we arrived at the studio gates there were hordes of fans waiting.

"As soon as they spotted him the screams went up: 'Wicksy!' 'Nick!'

"'I love you, Nick!' The car was mobbed. Screaming girls waving banners, begging for autographs."

The dad-of-two played Simon from 1985 to 1990.

He then went on to star in ITV's police drama Heartbeat as the equally handsome PC Nick Rowan in 1992, staying on the show for six years.

After his stint on Heartbeat, Berry moved back to the BBC where he starred in the show Harbour Lights.

The show was less successful than his previous roles, with the coastal drama being axed after two series.

He also had a role on the BBC's In Deep, a crime drama where he starred alongside Stephen Tompkinson.

Aged 39 he turned his back on acting for good and focused on being a stay-at-home father to his two sons.

In 2011 he told the Daily Mail he had no regrets nor any desire to throw his hat back in the ring.

Nick said: "I chose to be a stay-at-home dad and have loved it.

"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."

True to his word, Nick made his last TV appearance back in 2012 in a one-off EastEnders episode for the funeral of his on-screen mother Pat Butcher.

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