Actor who played EastEnders 90s favourite Nigel still has his trademark curly locks 25 years later

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
4 Min Read

The bumbling East End misfit known to millions as ‘Nigel Bates’ might have left Albert Square a quarter of a century ago, but it seems actor Paul Bradley hasn’t entirely left his character behind.

Bates, the loveable loser who captured our hearts in the 90s, exited East London for the Scottish highlands after falling head over heels for daughter Clare’s schoolteacher Julie Haye. But his departure hasn’t altered one trademark feature – those unforgettable curly locks.

Now 68, Bradley’s distinctive curly mop-top is as vibrant as ever, as recent snaps show the actor looking splendid with his unmistakable mane. Indeed, Paul’s hair might have greyed, but its iconic bounce has stood the test of time.

Paul Bradley as Nigel Bates with Peggy Mitchell played by the late Barbara Windsor

Paul, who first hit our screens as Nigel in 1992, charmed us with his clumsy but kind-hearted antics until his character was given a fairytale exit in 1998. And while Bradley might have moved on from his East End days, fans will be pleased to see Nigel’s spirit lives on in his recognisable curls.

Nigel, best remembered as the bosom buddy of hard-nosed Mitchell brothers Grant and Phil, was a key player in some of EastEnders’ most memorable plots. After his mother passed away, he became a lodger for Walford’s veteran resident, Dot Cotton, whose son Nick resented Nigel for his relationship with his mother.

With his quirky attire and wild hair, Nigel was the jester of Albert Square, a character Bradley described as “harmless and amiable.” In a 1994 interview, Bradley said, “Nigel is very well-meaning. He was best mates at school with Phil and Grant. Where they would use their fists, he would use jokes to get out of trouble.”

The character’s storyline took a dramatic turn when Nigel’s wife Debbie tragically passed away, and he found love in an unlikely place – with Clare’s teacher Julie. They decided to begin a new life together in Scotland, leaving an indelible mark on Albert Square.

Paul still has his curly hair, albeit a lot thinner 25 years later, as expected

Post-EastEnders, Bradley has enjoyed a varied career. Fans may remember him from iconic TV shows such as ‘The Young Ones,’ ‘Red Dwarf,’ and ‘Bottom.’ Notably, he successfully ran on ‘Holby City’ as Dr Elliot Hope from 2005-2015 and again in 2019.

Beyond acting, Bradley has showcased his musical talent as the co-lead guitarist and vocalist for the band The hKippers alongside Stephen Warbeck, the Academy Award-winning composer of ‘Shakespeare in Love.’ In 2021, he appeared on the West End stage as Major Metcalfe in the long-running play ‘The Mousetrap.’

25 years may have passed, but it seems Paul Bradley is still very much channelling the lovable loser we all fell in love with – at least when it comes to his signature curly hair.

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