Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) made a sensational return to EastEnders recently, happily reunited with first wife Cindy (Michelle Collins) despite the fact that he had spent decades believing she was dead! And that's not the only unlikely part of their renewed romance.
While we must wait until later this Summer for Ian to make a full-time comeback to Walford, Ian's surprising decision to go back to Cindy got us thinking about his unlucky history in love. The character has clocked up more failed marriages than most in Soapland, after all!
So, who are the Wives and Girlfriends of Mr Beale, and what happened to them? Well, take a trip down memory lane as we remind you who's who, and just how Ian fared in each of his relationships over the years...
The WAGs of EastEnders' legend Ian Beale, from Cindy to Jane
1. Cindy Williams (Michelle Collins)
Of course, we have to start with Cindy. The pair wed in 1989 when Cindy was pregnant with her son Steven. But when she later confessed to a fling with Simon Wicks (Nick Berry), confirming that Steven was not Ian's son, Ian was devastated. He eventually forgave Cindy, and they became parents to twins Peter and Lucy.
But this is where Ian's now famous obsession with building his business empire began, as he neglected Cindy in favour of making money. Cindy left Ian for his half-brother David Wicks (Michael French), but Ian won custody of their kids. Cindy later hired a hitman to have Ian killed, but although he was shot, he made a full recovery.
Cindy took Steven and Peter and fled to Italy, later being tracked down by Ian. Cindy ultimately won custody of all three of her children, but her hit on Ian was later proved and she was arrested, charged and jailed. But, pregnant with a new man's baby, Cindy was said to have died in childbirth in 1998, survived by Cindy Junior (Mimi Keene).
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25 years later, Cindy was seen alive and well and living in France, having inexplicably reconnected with Ian. With Steven and Lucy sadly long dead, Cindy and Ian have been living with their son Peter (played by returning actor Thomas Law). When Ian suffered a heart attack, he lovingly told Cindy that she had always been the one for him - but we can't help but recall that Ian has made this claim before...
2. Melanie Healy (Tamzin Outhwaite)
Ian's next serious relationship was with Mel (Tamzin Outhwaite), but it became clear that she wasn't nearly as keen on him as he was on her. Despite this, Mel proposed to Ian - only to cheat on him with Steve Owen (Martin Kemp). Ian soon realised that she was planning to leave him, so he told a massive lie - saying that his daughter Lucy was dying from cancer!
Ian and Mel got married in 1999, but during the reception, she discovered that Lucy had never been ill, ultimately leaving Ian and telling him that she had never loved him. Mel eventually wed Steve, but after he was killed, she started a new life in Portugal. In 2018, Mel returned to Walford with her son by Steve, Hunter (Charlie Winter).
Hunter was a troubled teen, though, and after committing murder, he was killed mid-siege, leaving Mel broken. She stepped out in front of a lorry and was killed instantly. Ian was among those who mourned her death in the days that followed, having always kept a place for her in his heart.
3. Laura Dunn (Hannah Waterman)
After his split from Mel, Ian hired nanny Laura (Hannah Waterman) to care for his children. They began a relationship, but Ian only fully committed to Laura after he was declared bankrupt. Laura bought back the fish and chip shop for him, but she feared Ian was only interested in her for her inheritance.
Still, Ian and Laura became husband and wife in 2001. But, as we've already mentioned, Ian had always held a torch for Mel, and he tried to kiss her even after marrying Laura. Ian also refused to have a baby with Laura, and when Steven, who Ian and Laura had been raising as their own, discovered that Ian had been seeing Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks) who had turned to prostitution, he told Laura.
Laura forgave Ian on the condition that they had a child together. Although he agreed, Ian had a vasectomy in secret! So when Laura announced her pregnancy, he revealed that he couldn't be the father and threw her out - but not before conning her into signing over control of their businesses to him!
Laura later realised that Ian, not her one-night-stand Garry Hobbs (Ricky Groves), was the father after all - only to trip and fall down the stairs to her death just as she was desperate to tell him the truth. When tests proved he was the dad, Ian took custody of Bobby, finally feeling guilty for his treatment of Laura.
4. Jane Collins (Laurie Brett)
Ian and Jane's (Laurie Brett) relationship would be tested many times. Initially, Ian supported Jane through the loss of her husband David, who died from Huntington's Disease. Jane later had an affair with Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp), but she married Ian in 2007 after he forgave her. When Steven returned to Walford, he stalked Ian and ended up shooting Jane, who needed a hysterectomy, leaving her devastated.
When Lucy got pregnant, Jane suggested that she and Ian adopt the baby, but Ian secretly arranged for Lucy to have a termination and lied that she had miscarried. When Jane learned the truth, she planned to take all Ian's money and leave him. But Ian had been arranging for her to adopt Bobby at the time. The pair stayed together, but Ian had an affair with Glenda Mitchell (Glynis Barber) and was forced to confess to Jane.
Jane divorced Ian and left in 2011, but would eventually return, remaining close to Bobby, Peter and Lucy (Hetti Bywater). But when young Bobby accidentally killed big sister Lucy in 2014, Jane made the shocking decision to cover it up, and by the time Ian discovered this he had married Jane for a second time.
Bobby's behaviour got worse and he lashed out at Jane, leaving her severely injured. Although she recovered, Max Branning's (Jake Wood) revenge plot saw her leave Ian and Walford alone, with viewers feeling that Jane and Ian still have unfinished business to this day!
5. Mandy Salter (Nicola Stapleton)
Ian invited old friend Mandy (Nicola Stapleton) to stay with him in 2011, and as she helped him loosen up, Ian fell for her. Both lonely, Mandy and Ian embarked on a relationship and she agreed to marry him. Mandy had a fling with Ricky Butcher (Sid Owen), but Ian became determined to seal his relationship with her all the same.
But when Ian chose Mandy over Lucy and threw his daughter out of the house, Mandy was horrified and, as she admitted she didn't really love Ian, she left him. This led Ian to suffer a nervous breakdown, and he went missing and lived on the streets for a few months before finally reuniting with his loved ones.
6. Denise Fox (Diane Parish)
After a friendly rivalry in business, Ian and Denise (Diane Parish) began dating, despite the fact that Ian had always irritated her! A genuine bond formed, though, and Denise eventually moved in with Ian. But when Ian stole some cash belonging to Derek Branning (Jamie Foreman), it sparked a tale of extortion and violence from Carl White (Daniel Coonan).
Ian's lies made Denise furious, but they soon got back on track and he planned to ask her to marry him. But at the point when Ian was about to pop the question, Jane returned, and it wasn't long before he developed new feelings for his ex.
But Ian remained in a relationship with Denise until was revealed that he had paid Rainie Cross (Tanya Franks) for sex and he was confronted by Patrick Trueman (Rudolph Walker). Patrick suffered a stroke, leaving him unable to communicate with Denise, and Ian took advantage of the situation. It was Rainie who later filled Denise in on the secret, and she dumped Ian, disgusted over his treatment of Patrick as well as his cheating.
7. Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean)
Lifelong friend Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) had been a crush of Ian in his teens, but their bond was tested when Ian discovered that Sharon's son Dennis Rickman Jr (Bleu Landau) had been bullying Ian's son Bobby. While at The Queen Vic boat party, Ian confronted Denny and locked him in one of the cabins on board. When the boat hit trouble, Ian desperately tried to free the youngster, but Denny ended up drowning.
Although Dotty Cotton (Milly Zero) worked out what he had done, Ian concealed his role in Denny's death, and his old romantic feelings for Sharon resurfaced. After buying back the pub for her, the pair moved in and set up a home together, but Sharon secretly learned what Ian had done, and paid ex-husband Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) to attack Ian.
At the hospital, it was touch and go, so an oblivious Ian proposed to Sharon and they wed there and then. But she was plotting to kill Ian, with Phil providing cocaine to mix into Ian's spaghetti carbonara! Ian realised what Sharon was up to before he could eat the meal, and when she confronted him over Denny, Ian agreed that he deserved to die and ate the poisoned pasta.
But Sharon had a change of heart and made Ian throw up the food to save his life. Ian promptly left Walford and annulled his marriage to Sharon off-screen. The pair will soon come face to face for the first time since that surreal storyline, so there's a lot to address!
- EastEnders boss Chris Clenshaw on “different” Cindy and Ian reunion
- EastEnders' explosive Cindy Beale comeback is a campy soap triumph
- EastEnders' Michelle Collins talks Cindy Beale witness protection story
- EastEnders' Ian Beale has heart attack and keeps huge secret from Cindy
- Will Jacqueline Jossa return full-time to EastEnders as Lauren Branning?
- When are Cindy and Ian Beale returning to EastEnders full-time?
- 15 EastEnders questions we still have after Cindy and Ian Beale's return
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