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Where are they now? Jack Ryder Looks very different from his days on EastEnders

Former EastEnders actor Jack Ryder couldn’t look any different than he did in his days playing Jamie Mitchell in the long-running BBC soap opera.

Ryder first joined the show in November of 1998 and lasted until December of 2002, when the Woolwich-born actor decided to leave. In his final appearance on Christmas Day special, his character was killed off.

Whilst on the show, Jack Ryder’s character was involved in many high-profile storylines, such as his on-off relationship with Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy), his tumultuous relationship with his uncle Billy Mitchell (Perry Fenwick) in which Ryder’s character was subjected to violence, but later forgave Billy for his wrong doings, and his relationship with Zoe Slater (Michelle Ryan).

His final storyline ended with his character being run over on Christmas day and dying in hospital due to spleen damage.

A storyline he was involved in which prompted third-party complaints from the Broadcasting Standards was the issue of his character being taken in by Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) after the realisation that Billy had been beating him. Sometime later however, Phil Mitchell put him through the same violent scenario, wherein the complaints were raised.

Upon deciding to leave EastEnders, executive producer John Yorke assured Ryder that the door would always be open for a return for Jamie Mitchell, however, when Yorke was succeeded in the position by Louise Berridge, the decision was made to kill the character off.

In 1999, Ryder won the ‘Best Newcomer’ award at the British Soap Awards, and in 2003, he was awarded with the ‘Best Exit’ honour.

Upon leaving EastEnders, Ryder, then 21, had many years ahead of him in which to forge a career. He performed as Justin Timberlake in Celebrity Stars in their Eyes (a contest which he won) and appeared in pantomime Sleeping Beauty at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury.

After a recurring role in the ITV crime drama MIT: Murder Investigation Team, and after a starring role in the British film Popcorn in 2006, Ryan found a home for himself in the theatre for the next few years. It was here that he’d find his true place in the business of show.

In 2007, now aged 26, Ryder appeared in the play The Safari Party by Tim Firth and in Kenneth Branagh’s production of The Play What I Wrote, a celebration of famed comedic duo, Morecambe and Wise, which toured the UK extensively.

He also starred on stage opposite Nigel Havers in Alan Bennett’s Single Spies, as well as playing Romeo in Michael Bogdonov’s production of Romeo and Juliet alongside Sara Lloyd-Gregory as Juliet. In 2008, he also joined the famously long-running radio drama The Archers, in which he played the character Ryan.

As well as starring in the West End production of Calendar Girls, Ryder wrote and directed his first short film called Act of Memory, an adaptation of Mary Grace Dembeck’s short story of the same name. It was shot in London and debuted at the renowned Cannes Film Festival in 2011.

After this, Ryder’s career took a turn into directing, as he went onto be an associate director of the stage play The Full Monty, an adaptation of the Academy Award nominated film, which opened at the Lyceum Theatre in Leicester. After this, he directed his second short film, DOG, and in July of 2015 he directed his first red button episode of Casualty for the BBC.

After a brief return to acting, as he played a new character Gareth in Kay Mellors’ BBC drama In the Club which aired in May 2016, Ryder became the assistant director to Tim Firth on his and Gary Barlow’s new musical “The Girls” which will open at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End on February 21st of this year.

After an initial sticky spell in panto, the fallow fields for many an actor, Ryder successfully transitioned into directing, the calling for most actors who feel that there may be more to the profession of film and television than inhabiting a character. Indeed, the auteur in Jack Ryder has come to the surface during the course of his career, and who knows where it will lead him.