What ever happened to the child stars of these classic 90s TV ads?

What ever happened to the child stars of these classic 90s TV ads? From the Milkybar Kid to the Hovis biker boy and the Dairylea lads who dared each other to kiss ‘Veronica Dribblethwaite’

  • Many famous adverts feature child actors who grow up to be normal people 
  • Here MailOnline takes a look at the careers of those who were in iconic adverts 
  • Read more: As M&S launches new campaign, what type of model do we want?

Many children dream of ending up on stage or screen and for many stars of the future their very first jobs are in famous adverts. 

From the Hovis baker boy to the infamous Milkyway kid, children in adverts often capture the imagination of millions. 

With witty one-liners and catchy slogans, popular advertisements remain in the national psyche for decades as people often quote their favourites.   

But while some child stars make big names for themselves as actors, others choose quieter lives after finding fame early on.  

Here, MailOnline finds out where some of the child actors featured in the nation’s favourite adverts have ended up a few decades later… 

Nestle: Milkybar Kid

The former child actor is now a photographer, having stepped behind the lens in 2016 to pursue the new career 

He rides into town on a horse to save the townspeople from an evil sheriff before handing out Milkybar bars, shouting: ‘Milkybars are on me!’

The real life Milkybar Kid, Conrad Coleby, 43, son of British actor Robert Coleby, has enjoyed a varied acting career since his stint with Nestle. 

The character has been portrayed by a succession of blond child stars in Australia, with Conrad playing the lead role throughout the nineties.

Saving the day! Conrad’s adverts took place in a Wild West setting, with the Milkybar Kid bursting into a saloon to buy everyone Milkybars as the patrons cheered 

The character has been played by a number of blond child stars since it was created (pictured, Conrad in the iconic role)

After his time in the Western-inspired ads, Conrad launched a successful acting career, starring in Disney’s Sabrina Down Under and Home And Away. 

He played heartthrob Dylan ‘Dutchy’ Mulholland in Sea Patrol and even shared a screen with Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.  

Conrad said in 2020 there was a downside to being so famous.

Conrad pictured with his partner, Natalia Ladyko in 2021. The actor enjoyed a successful career on screen before picking up a camera himself 

Conrad played heartthrob Dylan ‘Dutchy’ Mulholland in Sea Patrol in a successful acting career which spanned all of Australia’s major networks

‘As the Milkybar Kid in my younger days, I copped quite a bit of bullying for being one of the only kids in my neighbourhood to be on TV,’ he said.

‘I obviously enjoyed being teased so much that I decided to give everyone more ammunition and become a professional actor later on!’ 

He stepped away from acting in 2016 to pursue life as a photographer and snaps action sports, portraiture and property. 

Hovis: ‘Boy On The Bike’

Carl Barlow returned to the Dorset hill in 2017 to attempt the climb on an electric bike, which he said was much easier 

The Hovis advert was shot on Gold Hill in Shaftebury in Dorset and poor Mr Barlow had to drag the bike up the hill more than 20 times during filming 

The toils of the hardworking Hovis Boy, pushing his bike up a seemingly never ending hill, were featured in an iconic 1973 advert for the baked goods, directed by Ridley Scott. 

The advert, which is set in an industrial town but was actually filmed on Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset, has been voted the nation’s favourite of all time. 

In 2017, Carl Barlow, 63, conquered the steep hill with the help of an electric bike – just 44 years after the short originally aired. 

Mr Barlow, who enjoyed a thirty-year career as a firefighter after starring in the advert, said it was ‘strange’ to be back after all that time. 

The 1973 advert, which was directed by Ridley Scott, who would go on to direct classics including Gladiator and Alien 

‘I remember I had to push the bike up the hill many times for the best part of the two days filming on Gold Hill.

‘It was much easier this time around. I just glided up the hill,’ the former child actor explained. 

The advert had such an impact when it was first released that it was later spoofed by The Two Ronnies. 

Mr Barlow had been asked to audition when he was 13 and got the job because he could ride a bike and was happy to cut his hair. 

‘After the advert I had some teasing at school due to the pudding basin-type haircut, but it was mostly in good fun.

‘Whenever I see the advert I find it quite fascinating to see my younger self, and it feels somewhat surreal.’

Dairylea: Would You Kiss Veronica Dribblethwaite? 

Chris Hoyle stars as the ringleader in the advert and would go on to score an ongoing role in Coronation Street as Mark Redman

He would later be fired from Corrie after being found with a small amount of cannabis but found fame again later in life as a playwright 

The actor and playwright has recently been cast in a new BBC drama, Boat Story, which is being made by the studio that produced Fleabag

The kids would do anything for Dairylea, this advert says, as three young boys having a sleepover in a tent look at their haul of food for a midnight snack. 

One says he would even kiss Veronica Dibblethwaite for the cheesy snack, although he looks much less keen when he’s told by his friends they’ll watch him do it. 

Chris Hoyle – previously known as Chris Cook – was the ringleader in the advert and would go on to score an ongoing role in Coronation Street as Mark Redman. 

He told I Love Manchester in 2018 that his life had been ‘completely changed’ by the instant fame. 

‘I went from being a shy lad to having a bit of confidence. I’d never got a Valentine’s card in my life, and the year I was in Corrie I suddenly got loads in the post from fans.’

But the teenager ran into trouble after he was discovered with cannabis, making national headlines and losing his Coronation Street role. 

The advert features three young boys who claim that they would do anything to get their hands on some Dairylea, although they look less than pleased at the idea of kissing Veronica Dibblethwaite

‘I was devastated. It was a lot to handle. And it was difficult at the time to shake off the drugs thing. People used to shout things at me walking down the street. It went on for years.’ 

The actor found a second calling as a playwright, and his play The Newspaper Boy debuted in 2009 and was revived in a production for Queer Contact 2018. 

‘I trained as an actor and I love being in the rehearsals, but writing gives me so much more creative freedom and control,’ he said. 

‘Also, writing means I get to play every character in my head.’

Chris is currently filming in Yorkshire for a BBC drama, Boat Story, which is being made by the studio responsible for The Tourist and Fleabag. 

Nestle: Breakaway Kid  

The Breakaway kid thinks the chocolate bar is ‘wicked’. Played by Matthew Shaw, the child has stolen the chocolate from his sister

Matthew Shaw has had a varied career following his stint in the Breakaway adverts, including appearances on Shameless and Children In Need

The Breakaway bar, with its layers of chocolate and biscuit, was launched in 1970 and has been a pantry staple for families ever since. 

And in a 1986 advert, Matthew Shaw plays a young lad who has stolen one of the chocolates from his sister. 

‘It’s wicked,’ the child actor says at the end of the advert. 

But Mr Shaw has continued performing since his turn as the hat-wearing chocolate thief and has had an extensive career in smaller productions. 

He attended the Elliot Clark School of Dance and Drama before landing jobs at Children in Need and on Shameless. 

The Merseyside based singer has featured in countless pantomimes and starred on cruise ship productions of West End favourites, including Cinderella. 

Nestle: Rolos Are Too Good To Share

Cees Molenaar starred in the 1995 award-winning Rolo elephant advert, refusing to share his sweets with a baby elephant 

Philip Childs plays the older version of the selfish chocolate-lover, who gets his comeuppance because ‘elephants never forget’

Cees Molenaar starred in the 1995 award-winning Rolo elephant advert as a child, where he refuses to offer a young elephant one of the caramel chocolates. 

But the selfishness comes back to haunt him (or Philip Childs, who plays the grown-up chocolate lover) when the elephant smacks him in the face during a parade. 

The advert was originally supposed to be for Dutch audiences but was used internationally after it proved very popular. 

Philip Childs (left) and Cees Molenaar on the twentieth anniversary of the filming of the Rolo Elephant advert 

Mr Molenaar is now a father and works in his home country of the Netherlands at a construction wholesalers

Philip Childs is a stage actor with credits on and off the West End. He has also scored roles in Emmerdale, Eastenders and The Bill.

In a piece written in 2015, Mr Childs described how he got the job and his joy when the advert was popular. 

‘I have lost count of the number of people asking me if I got regular free samples or the times that children would shout “neh neh neh neh neh!” at me in the street, but I loved it. 

‘The story still continues with a joyful reunion with the some of the creative and production team and the grown-up Cees, now 27 and fluent in English, to celebrate 20 years since the making of the ad. 

‘And the news that it had won an award for being the best Dutch commercial of all time made me very proud indeed.’

Mr Molenaar is now a father and worked for Klaas Puul in the Netherlands in fish processing.

The pair reunited in 2015, 20 years after the advert was filmed to celebrate its success.  

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