British Invasion: UK soap characters that stole our hearts

Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2016 11:31:18 AM
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Brexit has Great Britain on the world's stage, but our bows are still heading toward these beloved British soap characters.

Gobsmacked might bloody well be the best term to describe the world's reaction to the United Kingdom's historic decision to leave the European Union last week. It was a surprising political move that has left the markets in shambles and the media drooling over the scrummy ("delicious" in Brit slang) ratings gold. As for Soap Central, Brexit has us reliving our favorite daytime British invasions. Try as they might, these saucy characters could never leave our hearts -- referendum or not! Read on to find out which Brits we're wild about then let us know which UK-born soap characters you love the most.

Shane Donovan, Days of our Lives
(Played by Charles Shaughnessy)
While most of the nation knows Charles Shaughnessy as The Nanny's Mr. Maxwell Sheffield, daytime fans know the charming Brit as Theresa's adventure-loving father, Shane Donovan. The ISA agent -- who's as much like James Bond as Roger Moore and Sean Connery -- hit the canvas in the mid-80s, when soap operas were cashing in on the appeal of Luke and Laura-like action heroes and heroines. To complete the blockbuster-worthy pairing, DAYS had Shane fall in love with former prostitute Kimberly Brady, and the match was ratings gold. Sadly, Shane hasn't been seen often since those glory days, but he and Kimberly will be back this fall to help usher Jen Lilley's Theresa off the screen.

Aidan Devane, All My Children
(Played by Aiden Turner)
All My Children was no stranger to foreigners, having established a ridiculously rich and equally good-looking Hungarian family who took up residence at Wildwind. But heads definitely turned when hunky Brit Aidan skulked into town, searching for his Aunt Anna (Finola Hughes). Not only did he find his mother's sister, he also found himself in the middle of passionate romances with most of the town's leading ladies, including Kendall Hart (Alicia Minshew), Annie Lavery (Melissa Claire Egan), Maria Santos (Eva LaRue), Mia Saunders (Amerlia Heinle), and Greenlee Smythe (Rebecca Budig). Ah, what we wouldn't have given to be on the list, as well.

And let's not forget those rumors that Aiden Turner was going to play James Bond. What's more British than James Bond?

Jenna Bradshaw, Guiding Light
(Played by Fiona Hutchison)
Dripping in diamonds is an understatement for Springfield's notorious jewel thief, Jenna. The woman practically caused epileptic seizures from all her bling when she sneaked into town in the early 90s with her sights on the Spaulding jewels. Jenna entertained GL fans on-again, off-again for a good part of the decade, but her value as a vivacious vixen plummeted when she was "domesticated" by good guy Buzz Cooper (Justin Deas), leading to a tragic car accident that wiped her off the canvas. Fortunately for fans of the British bad girl, the powers that be brought her back several years later -- albeit, in dream form -- for a story that led to the reveal that Jenna was Cyrus Foley's (Murray Bartlett) mother. Considering Cyrus was also was a jewel thief, it seems the apple didn't fall far from the tree.

Anna Devane, General Hospital and AMC
(Played by Finola Hughes)
Try as you might, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone as exciting as Anna Devane in the entire soap community. Brilliant, gorgeous, and tough-as-nails, the formerly London-based WSB agent stormed into Port Charles in 1985 for a storyline that began her and her former husband, Robert Scorpio's (Tristan Rogers), adventure-filled romance that gave Indiana Jones a run for his money. True, Anna has had some less-than-stellar moments over the years (um, anyone remember Casey the alien?), but it hasn't seemed to lessen her appeal, as she's still going strong 30 years later and even successfully brought the character to All My Children's Pine Valley.

Runner-Up: GH's Holly Sutton (Emma Samms), who was the ABC soap's earlier British lead.

Sabrina Fullerton, As the World Turns
(Played by Julianne Moore)
Long before Julianne Moore became an Oscar-winning Hollywood star, the The Fugitive and Boogie Nights actress played As the World Turns' Frannie Hughes and her long-lost British sister, Sabrina -- a dual role that landed her an Outstanding Younger Actress nomination. While Frannie undoubtedly had a larger presence on the canvas, you couldn't help but love Sabrina, who initially appeared somewhat mousy but showed her true colors when she seduced Frannie's fiancÚ, Seth (Steve Bassett), while pretending to be her American sister. It was pure soap genius: twin sisters, seduction, and all.

Jana Hawkes, The Young and the Restless
(Played by Emily O'Brien)
If Y&R's former baddie Jana Hawkes had a middle name, it would have been "Illegal Activities." Not only did the rather unlikeable Brit murder Carmen Mesta (Marisa Ramirez), she conspired to steal Nazi treasures; tried killing her future husband, Kevin (Greg Rikaart), and Colleen (Adrianne Leon) in a warehouse fire; faked her own murder; and kidnapped Lucy and Delia Abbott. She died of an aneurysm during a fight with Chloe (Elizabeth Hendrickson), which is a blessing for Britain, as the country probably would have had to add her to the long list of trade agreements they have to renegotiate before she could have returned to Genoa City.

Ivy Forrester -- The "Almost Brit," The Bold and the Beautiful
(Played by Ashleigh Brewer)
Yes, we know that Ivy was Australian. But what many viewers don't know is that the character was originally written to be British, and it was only a last-minute, behind-the-scenes decision that changed her fate. The resulting story has been more than worth the loss of a potential British character on the canvas, but we can't help wondering how things might have been different had Ivy been from the UK. Who knows -- perhaps she could have mastered a British accent that gave Jackie (Leslie-Anne Down) a run for her money.

E.J. DiMera, DAYS
(Played by James Scott Brewer)
"Great Scott!" may not be a British term, but it is for daytime fans who obsessed over Salem's former leading man E.J. DiMera and his handsome portrayer, James Scott. The Emmy-nominated actor hit the canvas in 2006 and quickly became a raging success -- no matter that the character had a wacky beginning as a little boy named "Elvis" who disappeared in 1997 and reemerged nine years later as a 20-something swoon-worthy villain. Scott's decision to walk away from DAYS along with his on-screen lover, Alison Sweeney's (Sami Brady), decision to leave the canvas sent shock waves through the daytime community from which the NBC soap is still trying to recover. We wouldn't be surprised if some soap fans who experienced the heartbreaking departure think Brexit is small beans in comparison.

Which British soap character has been your favorite? Is there someone else you think should have made our British Invasion list? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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