EastEnders star Jack Ryder looks unrecognisable now...

Gemma Strong

Jack Ryder shot to fame playing the floppy-haired blond heartthrob Jamie Mitchell in EastEnders. Fast forward 15 years, and the star looks very different – as his former co-star Dean Gaffney revealed this week.

Dean uploaded a recent photograph of Jack on his Instagram page, showing the 34-year-old sporting a shaved head, facial hair and glasses. "Wow what a change…. Love this guy…. But how many of you will know who this is….#ryder!" Dean told his 10,000 followers.

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Jack Ryder as he looks now

Jack appeared on EastEnders between 1998 and 2002. During that time, his romance with Sonia (actress Natalie Cassidy) played a big part in his storylines – right up until he was tragically run over by Martin Fowler (James Alexandrou) on Christmas Day.

Off-screen, meanwhile, Jack gained further attention through his marriage to Kym Marsh. The couple first met in the canteen at the BBC when she was appearing in Top of The Pops with Hear'Say and he was filming for EastEnders. They tied the knot in in St Albans in August 2002, but announced their separation in March 2008 and were divorced the following year.

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The former EastEnders star pictured back in October 2000

Since leaving EastEnders, Jack has gone on to establish himself in the world of directing for film and theatre. He is currently working as the director of The Full Monty as it tours the UK, and last summer he made a brief return to TV to direct an episode of Casualty.