EastEnder Ian Beale is headed back to Walford, having gone AWOL – wearing pyjamas, a dressing gown and slippers – after his fiancé Mandy Salter (Nicola Stapleton) ditched him on what should have been their wedding day.
Since he went walkabout, his daughter Lucy (Hetti Bywater) has been holding the Beale fort, and has been taking care of young Bobby…
However, when an overwhelmed Lucy finally admits that she can’t cope, she and friends Lauren Branning (Jacqueline Jossa) and Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty) tell Lauren’s dad Max (Jake Wood) the truth of the situation, which is that Lucy has no idea where her dad is, or even if he’s alive.
So, Max organises a group of the Square’s residents to start looking for Ian at homeless shelters and soup kitchens, and it turns out his instincts about where Ian might be were correct because it will transpire that he’s been dossing with tramps and alcoholics while living on the streets…
And when Ian does return to the Square, his appearance shocks everyone.
A show insider told the Daily Mirror, “Lucy has been trying to keep things going in Walford by saying Ian was away on honeymoon.
“But when he returns she is barely able to recognise him. He is in a right mess and looks like a tramp.”
EastEnders’ executive producer Lorraine Newman has previously stated that he and the show’s writers had “worked closely” with mental health charities in order to portray Ian’s breakdown in a realistic manner.
Jenni Regan, of charity Time to Change, told the paper, “We set up a meeting between the scriptwriters and someone who has suffered from depression so they could reflect accurately what Ian has been going through.
“Mental health problems can happen to anyone and we hope EastEnders will help eliminate the stigma and taboo that still surrounds the issue.”
Adam Woodyatt, who of course plays the role of Ian, is the only – current – cast member who has been in the show continually since it launched in 1985. However, Letitia Dean, who is back on the show to reprise the role of Sharon, was also one of the original cast members, but unlike Adam, she has of course had extensive time away from the soap on a number of occasions.
Are you excited to see where Ian’s storyline is going now he’s back?