Actor Adam Woodyatt has spoken about his return to EastEnders as Ian Beale for the first time.


The long-running EastEnders star stepped away from the soap in late 2020 after Ian fled Walford in January 2021 following an epic confrontation with then-wife and former best friend Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) after she tried to kill him in revenge for the death of her son Dennis Rickman, Jr (Bleu Landau).

Now, a shocking twist at the end of the episode on Wednesday (21st June 2023) saw Ian's presumed dead first wife Cindy (once again played by Michelle Collins) being revealed to be alive and well and that she had previously lived a life as Rose Knight, the wife of new Queen Vic landlord George Knight (Colin Salmon) and mother to his two daughters.

However, it can be confirmed that Ian will be returning alongside Cindy Beale, having not been seen on the soap since a surprise cameo in December to pay tribute to close friend Dot Branning outside of her funeral.

Speaking to and other press at an event this week, Adam Woodyatt discussed reuniting with co-star Michelle Collins.

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"Working with Michelle has been – no offence – like putting on an old pair of slippers. It’s comfortable," revealed Woodyatt to laughs from Collins and the audience.

However, there have been some other very big changes at the show's studio in Elstree and Borehamwood.

The actor continued: "The weirdest thing for me – since I've been gone, they've rebuilt the lot. I got out the car yesterday morning, on the right-hand side was the Square – I've looked and it's literally just disappeared! That was the weirdest thing for me. Nicest things have been going back and seeing all the faces."

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Woodyatt added: “I'm amazed we got anything filmed on that first morning because I was just chatting."

However, Woodyatt confirmed that as he’s only just started filming once again on the set of the Square, he’s not seen some of his fellow cast members yet.

Michelle Collins as Cindy Beale holding a rose with Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale beside her in EastEnders.
Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt, right) is back alongside 'dead' ex-wife Cindy Beale (Michelle Collins). BBC

The soap veteran also revealed that he always knew who Ian was calling "Love" over the phone when he made that quick surprise cameo for Dot's funeral in December.

On when he knew about Cindy’s return, he explained: "It was when we did Dot's funeral. There was a need to know, there were eight people and just basically the heads of departments.

"They were the ones who came out and did that shoot because I flew back from doing My Fair Lady, landed on the Monday, shot it on the Tuesday morning, and flew off to my daughter's wedding on the Wednesday. We literally sneaked in on the Tuesday morning – no one knows.

"And also when filming it, Mark – who's one of my oldest mates on set, he's the sound boy – ended up on episode 2 but didn’t get to do episode 1, and he just looked at me and said, 'You know... who is it?' And I said, 'I’m not telling.'"

Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale in EastEnders.
Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale making a mysterious call outside Dot's funeral in EastEnders. BBC

It’s not the first big secret that Woodyatt has had to keep in relation to the show either, having been at the forefront of one of the soap's biggest mysteries: who killed Lucy Beale?

"I'm brilliant," proclaimed Woodyatt. "I was one of the few people who knew who killed Lucy."

Of course, the show's 30th anniversary week in 2015 revealed that Ian and Cindy's daughter Lucy Beale was killed by Ian's youngest son Bobby Beale, with Ian's fourth wife Jane Beale (Laurie Brett) helping to cover it up.

What will Cindy and Bobby have to say to each other when they come face to face?

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EastEnders airs Mondays to Thursdays at 7:30pm on BBC One and from 6am on BBC iPlayer. 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 and Streaming Guide.

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