EastEnders star Adam Woodyatt on Ian Beale’s mental health storyline and his Doctor Who ambitions!

by Lynn Connolly

adam woodyatt

As fans of EastEnders will know, Ian Beale suffered a nervous breakdown following the end of his relationship with former stripper Mandy Salter (Nicola Stapleton) and after running up huge amounts of debt…

And in May of last year, on what should have been Ian and Mandy’s wedding day, after Mandy ditched him, we saw Ian wandering away from the Square wearing just his dressing gown and slippers.

He then went missing and only returned to Walford after Lauren Branning (Jacqueline Jossa) spotted him at a shelter for the homeless during the summer and he went to stay with the Branning family while they broke the news to his daughter Lucy (Hetti Bywater) that he was back.

But of course, Ian was almost unrecognizable with overgrown hair and a beard, and he was – at the time – almost catatonic.

However, he made a rather rapid recovery, and subsequently, Adam Woodyatt – who’s played the role of Ian since the show began in 1985 – has been nominated for a National Television Award in recognition of how sensitively he portrayed Ian’s mental illness.

Speaking to Radio Times magazine, Adam said of being nominated for an award, “I was pleased just to get onto the longlist, so I’m stunned to get off that and onto the shortlist. I’m well happy.”

And when asked how the viewers had responded to Ian’s mental health plotline, Adam said, “You wouldn’t believe the amount of people who messaged me to say that they’d been in the same situation.

“Some people had done their best to cover up what happened to them. Others had gone public and spoken about it.

“I had people from quite high profile jobs contacting me, not just in the industry in which I work, but also from sport and the world of business.


“It’s opened my eyes because I hadn’t realised how big the issue of mental health actually was.

“It is still slightly taboo. But I reckon a lot of the boundaries have been broken down in the last couple of years.

“So in 2012 we had Ian’s story in EastEnders and also Zak Dingle’s in Emmerdale – and with soaps being in the mainstream, they show that mental health problems can happen to anyone.”

Adam was then asked what lies ahead for Ian in 2013, and if there’s to be a romance with Denise Fox (Diane Parish) to which he replied, “Well, it seems like there is a spark there, but you’ll have to wait and see if it goes anywhere.”

The RT interviewer then remarked on the fact that Adam’s a sci-fi buff, about which the actor commented, “I do like Star Trek – I watched the original series, Next Generation and Deep Space Nine but I think it was wearing a bit thin by the time it got to Voyager.

“I think they pushed the franchise to the absolute limit.”

And when asked, “But if you could be in any other show, would it be Star Trek?” Adam replied, “I think I would have to say ‘yes’ to that.”

He added, “I also fancy Doctor Who – I want to be an alien, heavily made up so people wouldn’t be able to tell it was me.

“I think everyone of my generation would like to do Doctor Who because we all have something significant from the show that we remember from childhood.

“For me it was Jon Pertwee, the Brigadier and these giant maggoty slug things [The Green Death].

“I have this memory of watching it when I was off school ill. So it must have been repeated in the daytime. Or maybe it was the school holidays.

“I do like the new series as well though – I enjoyed the Christmas special and I think Matt Smith is brilliant.”

As mentioned, Adam’s nominated in the Best Serial Drama Performance category at this year’s National Television Awards, and if you’d like to vote for him, visit www.nationaltvawards.com

For now, here’s a reminder of the episode in which Ian’s mental health issues became too much for him to bear…

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.