Last night's episode of EastEnders was an emotional one for soap fans, with Albert Square residents attending the funeral of Dot Branning – including Ian Beale, who made a surprise cameo despite leaving Walford in 2021.


We last saw Ian, played by Adam Woodyatt, heading into Walford train station after a fiery showdown with Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) over the death of her son Dennis, but could this cameo mark a bigger return for the EastEnders icon?

There are rumours that Woodyatt could be back at the Queen Vic on a more permanent basis, with The Sun reporting that his Dot's funeral cameo is setting up a "top secret" plotline for the former Albert Square regular.

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

"Ian’s comeback storyline is in the works," a source told the publication. "Fans of the show don’t know who Ian was talking to yet but it won’t be long until all is revealed.

"While the plotline is top secret, it’s a given that viewers will not be disappointed by what they see when Ian does return."

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While the BBC has declined to comment, executive producer Chris Clenshaw didn't rule out Woodyatt's return to and other press.

"Well, he's on the phone to someone, we know who," he said. "I think Adam is a little bit busy at the moment. But he is, you know, Adam is Ian Beale."

In last night's episode, fans saw Ian Beale look on at the funeral from behind a tree, saying: "Goodbye, Dot."

He then picks up his phone and speaks to a mysterious person on the end of the line, saying: "Hi love. Yes, I'm coming home."

Clenshaw added that the cameo came about after he reached out to Woodyatt, who was keen to be back for the episodes.

"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."

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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