Adam Woodyatt has made a surprise return to EastEnders as Ian Beale for the funeral of old friend Dot Branning.


The character was last seen in January 2021 when he left Albert Square after a dramatic showdown with former best friend Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) over the death of her son Dennis.

In the aftermath, Ian left his family and businesses on the Square behind without much explanation, as Adam Woodyatt stepped away from the soap for the first time in over 30 years.

During Monday’s funeral episode (12th December 2022), as the guests for Dot’s funeral arrive at the church to say their goodbyes, we see a figure watching the churchyard: Ian Beale.

Sporting some facial hair and hiding behind trees and fencing, Ian looks on at the events and emotionally says: “Goodbye, Dot.”

After a look of contemplation, Ian takes a call on his mobile phone and mysteriously speaks to someone he refers to as “love” and informs that he is now on his way “home”.

After this, Ian swiftly departs.

Describing how Ian Beale’s quick return came about, executive producer Chris Clenshaw told and other press at an event last week that Adam Woodyatt was keen to be back for the episodes.

Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale in EastEnders.
Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale in EastEnders. BBC

Clenshaw revealed: "Yeah, I called Adam, told him our plans, and I said, 'Ian has to be there,' and he agreed. It was kind of as simple as that. Ian would not miss it. Obviously, he didn't make it into the church, but he said his own private goodbye to Dot.

"So, yeah, that's how it came about. It was just that Adam wanted to be there for June and he knew that Ian should be there for Dot."

When pressed on the identity of the person who Ian referred to as "love" in his phone call before heading "home", Clenshaw was more secretive.

Is Ian Beale returning to EastEnders after Dot's funeral cameo?

Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale walking away in EastEnders
Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale in EastEnders. BBC

It seems that yes, we will likely see Ian Beale again.

On the potential return of Ian Beale in the future, Clenshaw teased: “Well, he's on the phone to someone, we know who. I think Adam is a little bit busy at the moment. But he is, you know, Adam is Ian Beale."

So, when will we see Ian Beale again?

Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide or Streaming Guide, or visit our Soaps hub.


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