BACK in the Nineties, Hollyoaks’ Jeremy Edwards was one of Britain’s most lusted-after soap hunks, working out daily to hone his six-pack and frequently accosted by adoring fans.
Now, he’s weeks away from turning 50 — and determined to overhaul his look after being trolled for his dad bod on The X Factor: Celebrity.
Hollyoaks star Jeremy Edwards, pictured in 2004, was one of Britain’s most lusted-after soap hunksCredit: Xposure
Of the cruel jibes, Jeremy said: “It affected me massively. It did upset me because my weight wasn’t something I’d really thought about.
“When it started, I thought, ‘Oh come on, I’m a dad, everyone puts on a few pounds’. Then I thought, ‘Wow people actually expect me to rock up with a six-pack’.
“I’ve had a back problem and as you get older, your metabolism changes.”
Jeremy appeared on the ITV talent contest spin-off in October 2019, in a much-maligned duet with former Strictly star Brendan Cole.
Jeremy, pictured in 2020, is determined to overhaul his look after being trolled for his dad bodCredit: Getty Images
In the social media storm that raged afterwards, Jeremy was branded a “hot mess minus the hot” and a “fat pig”.
He says: “I’ve trimmed down since then — I’ve lost a stone and a half — but it was horrible as I genuinely didn’t think people would be mean about my appearance.
“I thought people might be mean about my singing and I was alright with that, because that was what I was there to do. But I never saw the trolling coming.”
It was a far cry from the glory days of his twenties, when Jeremy — who played Kurt Benson in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks — toured the country with Ant and Dec’s SM:TV Live, as well as now-defunct teen mags Mizz and Smash Hits.
Jeremy played Kurt Benson in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks
Admitting there were “so many” screaming girls throwing themselves at him, he says: “You’d get some filth at personal appearances in clubs, girls would offer you literally anything and try to pass you notes.
“Once a girl turned up to the club in a bra and thong — she had a chain wrapped around her body with a padlock and said to me ‘Here’s the key’.
“People get hyped up but I never took it seriously. It was just because I’d been on TV. I never thought I was anything special.”
After leaving Hollyoaks in 1999, Jeremy moved from Liverpool to London to play healthcare assistant Danny Shaughnessy in Holby City for four years.
Jeremy is dad to daughter Scarlett, threeCredit: Instagram
Early in 2004, his three-year on-off engagement to S Club 7 singer Rachel Stevens ended, and shortly after he met wife Lydia Metz, then an office manager at a PR company, while shooting film Lost Dogs.
The pair wed in 2009. Lydia, 36, is expecting their second child in March, and recently left her job as a teacher to become a full-time mum to their daughter Scarlett, three.
But despite his popularity with the ladies, Jeremy insists he’s always been a relationship man.
He says: “I’ve never really been a womaniser, I’ve always had long-term relationships.
Jeremy, pictured with Hollyoaks co-star Will Mellor, admits screaming girls threw themselves at him during the glory days of his twentiesCredit: Alamy
“Some of the guys on Hollyoaks enjoyed the ladies in the clubs, but that was never for me. I meet women now who say, ‘Oh my God, I had your poster on my wall’.”
Now, he’s determined to get back in shape once again and get down to 14 stone, but not because of those body-shaming trolls.
“I’m going on a bit of a drive because I’m turning 50 on February 17,” he says.
“It’s for my own sake — I didn’t want to do it for the bullies but I think it’s quite nice to start 50 like, ‘Boom!’.
Jeremy appeared on The X Factor: Celebrity in a duet with former Strictly star Brendan ColeCredit: Rex Features
“I’m going to drop another stone, stone-and-a-half. I’ve signed up to this ridiculous bootcamp programme, which is going to kill me.
“I know if I drop a stone it will make a big difference and that’s cool, but I’m not really bothered about what people think I look like.”
As well as dieting and gruelling early morning CrossFit-style workouts, Jeremy has ditched booze.
He says: “I used to party in the Nineties, everyone did. But I never pushed it to the point I had to go to rehab.
Jeremy’s three-year on-off engagement to S Club 7 singer Rachel Stevens ended in 2004Credit: Getty Images – Getty
“Now I’m all about family and I’m just very happy that I’m here and have a beautiful wife, a beautiful daughter and another baby on the way.
“I want to live for as long as humanly possible, I’m not as rock ’n’ roll as I used to be, because I want to be around.”
Jeremy is looking forward to the arrival of his second child, after a two-year struggle with IVF, made more difficult by clinics closing in lockdown.
“IVF is a very stressful process,” he says.
Jeremy is looking forward to the arrival of his second child with wife Lydia MetzCredit: Twitter
“We went through it with Scarlett but because there’s nothing medically ‘wrong’ with either of us, we were hoping the second time would happen naturally.
“That wasn’t the case, unfortunately. As a guy you’re expected to put on a brave face so much in life, and IVF is the same.
“You feel responsible for what she’s going through, and there’s nothing you can do. If there’s any blip then you’re looking after your wife and nobody’s looking after you.
“It sounds a bit selfish but after a while you’re like ‘Actually, I could do with a bit of help because I’m trying to carry everything here’.
The couple, who wed in 2009, have had a two-year struggle with IVFCredit: Instagram
“It is tough, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone but I do think IVF is a miraculous thing. I want to give people hope because IVF could change your life.
“Now I’m going into my 50th year with a new baby — and a new body.”
Following that appearance on X Factor, Jeremy came back from the dead in Hollyoaks last October, to mark the soap’s 25-year anniversary.
He says: “Apart from coming in on my motorbike with my leather jacket, I didn’t want to replicate the Nineties too much.
Jeremy came back from the dead in Hollyoaks last October, to mark the soap’s 25-year anniversaryCredit: Channel 4
“I don’t know anyone who looks like they did 25 years ago so we changed up Kurt’s look — I was very happy we managed to put him in a suit.”
Jeremy has had it tough financially. He says: “A couple of years ago, I was helping my friend with some landscape gardening and I got papped.
“I’ve done painting and decorating as well, I’ll do anything, I don’t have an ego about stuff like that.
“I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had hard times financially over the two decades I’ve been doing this kind of work, but a few days of labouring isn’t going to solve all my financial problems.
Jeremy admits he has had it tough financiallyCredit: Alamy
“There’s nothing wrong with it, it keeps you fit and helps you save on the gym membership.
“I have a successful consultancy business in public speaking and presentations now too.”
There had been talk of a return to Hollyoaks but Jeremy wants to focus on his consultancy work and being a dad.
He says: “With the imminent second baby due and being away for long periods I was always going to be on the fence about returning to Hollyoaks.
Jeremy is determined to get back in shape once again and get down to 14 stoneCredit: Rex Features
“People being mean on Twitter just makes me question what is the point? Sometimes it’s better just to step away and regroup rather than struggle on.
“It’s the smart thing to do. Especially with everything else going on.
“You have to look out for yourself and your family.”
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