Ex-Brookside and Hollyoaks star Kristian Ealey dies aged 38

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Soap stars have paid tribute to Brookside and Hollyoaks actor Kristian Ealey after reports he has died at the age of 38.

Kristian was best known for his character Matt Musgrove, who appeared in Brookside between 1998 and 2000, and also Hollyoaks from 2000 to 2004, as well as the spin-off Hollyoaks: After Hours.

His Brookside co-star Suzanne Collins said Ealey had been working in Italy.

She said: "I'm very privileged to have called him a friend. There were a gang of the young ones who grew up on the set of Brookside - we called ourselves the Brooki Brat Pack and have an incredible bond. We were together nearly every day on set and we socialised out of work together, we became family."

She added: "It has shocked us all to the core. Kris was full of life, full of smiles and so full of music."

Collins said she understood he had gone to sleep with a pain in his arm and had not woken up, while co-star Jennifer Ellison posted this picture of her friend.

Kristian was a popular musician in Liverpool as a member of the band Tramp Attack. He also appeared as Ringo Starr in the film In His Life: The John Lennon Story.

Former Hollyoaks star Helen Noble, who is now an agent, wrote:

Hollyoaks production company Lime Pictures told Digital Spy: "Many crew worked with Kristian on both Hollyoaks and Brookside and enjoyed following his musical success after leaving the show.

"The news has been met with shock and sadness on set and everyone's thoughts are with his family at this time."