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Ian Albert Beale is the son of Pete Beale and Kathy Cotton, father of Peter, Lucy and Bobby Beale, and adoptive father of Steven Beale and Cindy Williams Jr. He is also the half-brother of David Wicks, Donna Ludlow, and Ben Mitchell. He is portrayed by Adam Woodyatt and made his first appearance on 19 February 1985.


1985-1989: Teenage years[]

As a teenager, Ian argues with his father Pete over his desire to become a caterer - but his grandmother Lou Beale encourages him.

When his cousin Michelle Fowler falls pregnant, Ian is initially suspected to be the father and gets confronted by his parents about it.

He starts a relationship with Tina Hopkins in 1987 and the pair decide to move in together, renting one of Tony Carpenter's flats. Ian eventually loses his virginity to her, to his glee. Ian and Tina break up when Tina's parents make an unannounced visit and are unhappy with their living conditions, so they take Tina away from Walford.

In 1988, Ian's uncle Kenny Beale and cousin Elizabeth Beale visit from New Zealand Ian and Elizabeth taking a liking to each other, but they break up when Elizabeth constantly flirts with men and she returns home. Ian then begins to develop a relationship with Donna Ludlow, not knowing she is his half-sister until Kathy reveals the truth to him; Kathy was sexually abused as a teenager and gave Donna up for adoption. Ian later supports Kathy when she gets raped by her former boss James Willmott-Brown in his pub, The Dagmar.

After graduating from catering college, Ian buys Ali's café. Ian has several failed romances, including one with his childhood friend, Sharon Watts. As such, he and Sharon remain close friends even though she became romantically interested in barman Simon 'Wicksy' Wicks - who was believed to be Ian's half-brother at one point.

1989-1990: Relationship with Cindy and birth of Steven[]

Ian meets Cindy Williams in 1988 and soon they get engaged in the following year. However, Cindy has a one-night stand with Simon beforehand and she ends up getting pregnant as a result of this. Cindy marries Ian and claims that the baby she is expecting, Steven Beale, is his, resulting in Ian attempting suicide when he learns the truth. He recovers and causes Simon to have a car accident in revenge so Simon, Cindy and Steven leave Walford together in December 1990.

1991-1995: Reconciliation and birth of twins[]

Soon enough, Ian immerses himself in his catering business. As time goes on, his exploitative working practices cause him to alienate his family, along with his friends and employees altogether.

He and Cindy later reconcile in 1992 and Ian is overjoyed to become a father to twins, Peter and Lucy Beale in 1993.

After opening a fish and chip shop, Ian becomes so obsessed with building his business empire that he partially neglects Cindy.

1996-1998: Cindy's affair, custody battle and Cindy's 'death'[]

Their marriage collapses when Ian finds out that Cindy has been having an affair with David Wicks. Thereafter, a custody battle ensues and Ian is on the verge of winning. Cindy decides to have Ian killed and hires a hitman named John Valecue to shoot him dead. Ian is shot but is only clipped by the bullet and recovers.

Cindy flees the country in 1996, fearing arrest by the police for Ian's shooting. She takes Steven and Peter with her, but is forced to leave Lucy behind. She spends a year in Italy before Ian traces them and kidnaps the boys back.

Cindy returns to Walford and wins back custody of the children but is implicated in Ian's shooting. She is jailed on remand in April 1998. Several months later, Ian finds out that Cindy died in prison during childbirth.

1999-2000: Relationship with Mel and bankruptcy[]

In 1999, Ian has a serious romance with the manager of his bric-a-brac shop: Mel Healy. Eventually she proposes to Ian but ends up developing platonic feelings with gangster Steve Owen in the process. Mel and Steve end up sleeping together in the build-up to her wedding with Ian.

Towards Christmas that year, Ian suspects that Mel is planning to leave him. Not wanting to lose her, and in an act of desperation, Ian resorts to tricking her into staying with him by falsely claiming that Lucy is dying from lymphoma. They marry on New Year's Eve 1999, shortly before the Millennium celebrations occur, but she leaves him during their wedding reception after discovering that Lucy is fine.

In 2000, Ian pursues a new business venture - development of high-market flats. At the same time, he hires childminder Laura Dunn as the new nanny for his children. In November 2000, however, Ian's businesses financially collapse and he finds himself on the verge of bankruptcy unless he manages to acquire £13,000 that would prevent this from happening. Unfortunately, Ian fails to get the full money he needed and is later declared bankrupt.

2001-2004: Relationship with Laura, feud with Phil and infidelity[]

Ian has developed a casual relationship with Laura. He initially dismisses her, but is forced to rely on her support after being declared bankrupt. Soon he warms to Laura and they eventually commit to one another. Furthermore, she buys back the fish and chip shop for Ian. Ian proposes to her, despite fearing that Ian is only interested in an inheritance she has received from her late grandmother, Laura eventually marries Ian after he proclaims his love for her.

By 2001, the conflict between Ian and Phil stems from Phil's disastrous marriage to Kathy and at one point Phil humiliated Ian by bogging his head in a toilet for badmouthing him. Moreover, Ian blames Phil over the bankruptcy ordeal - Ian had pleaded with Phil for help, but Phil refused and took delight in watching Ian's misery. Soon they clash again at Mel's wedding to Steve, in which Ian finds out that Phil slept with Mel in a one-night stand. Phil taunts Ian that Mel was good, but not as good as Kathy. Shortly afterwards, Ian attempts to attack Phil with a pipe. However, Phil quickly overpowers Ian and begins to throttle him until both Ian's cousin Mark Fowler as well as Mel stop him. Following the incident, Ian declares, "I just want to kill him!"

Later on that night, Phil is shot by an unknown assailant. Ian is questioned by the police about this, but he denies any involvement and suggests that Steve could be responsible. Ian then gets hassled by Phil's cousin Billy Mitchell, who believes that either Ian or Mark is the culprit. Mark defends Ian from Billy at one point, especially when Billy attempts to blackmail Ian for money. However, Ian eventually stands up to Billy in the fish and chip shop before throwing him out.

Laura finds blood stains on Ian's clothes that he wore on the night Phil was shot. She confronts him and he admits to seeing Phil lying unconscious after the shooting, but chose to leave Phil for dead over their animosity towards one another. Laura is angry that Ian lied to her, but she forgives him after Ian insists that he didn't shoot Phil. Not long afterwards, however, Phil finds out that Ian left him for dead and confronts him. Ian expects Phil to get payback, but Phil just leaves Ian after throwing salt all over him. Ian then tells the police that he left Phil for dead and is later arrested under suspicion of Phil's shooting, but he ends up getting released when Phil frames his nemesis Dan Sullivan for the crime and tells the police that Ian had nothing to do with it. Phil then forces Ian to act as a witness as part of his plan to get Dan wrongfully sent to prison for the shooting. Ian complies, but the plan fails and he later gets punched by Phil's mother Peggy Mitchell when she finds out that he left her son for dead.

In 2002, Ian's marriage with Laura begins to deteriorate after he attempted to kiss Mel. Soon, complications further erupt when Ian refuses to have a child with Laura, who frequently belittles him. Later on, Ian secretly begins visiting Janine Butcher for her prostitution services. Steven eventually discovers this and informs Laura, who threatens to break up with Ian for his actions. Steven, who is also equally appalled with Ian, starts writing poison pen letters and, when Ian finds out, Ian and Laura argue thinking Steven is in his room, however Steven overhears Ian say that he isn't his real son. Ian is forced to reveal the truth about his paternity and Steven leaves the Walford to live with his real father, Simon, in New Zealand. Ian later manages to convince Laura to give him another chance, and she agrees on the condition that they have a baby.

However, Ian goes against his promise to Laura by having a secret vasectomy. Laura finds out about this and turns to mechanic Garry Hobbs for support. They later begin a platonic relationship behind the backs of both Garry's wife, Lynne Slater, and Ian. Ian soon discovers the truth and throws Laura out when she becomes pregnant later that year. Afterwards, he cons her into signing over control of their businesses.

In 2003, Laura's son Bobby Beale is born. She later discovers that Bobby requires a blood transfusion following his birth, thus making her realise that Ian is the child's father. Ian and Garry later discover the truth as the latter attempts to raise the baby with Laura without Ian finding out.

2004-2007: Bobby's father, relationship with Jane and Ben's return[]

A year later in 2004, Laura dies after falling down the stairs and breaking her neck. Ian is guilt-ridden for his bad treatment towards Laura and vows to honour her legacy by raising Bobby well. After arranging Laura's funeral and taking custody of Bobby in the end, Ian appoints Sharon's adopted father Den Watts to be Bobby's guardian. It is then he starts dating Phil's former spouse Kate Morton, but they break up when he discovers that Kate and Den are having an affair - with Ian punching Den after his betrayed wife, Chrissie Watts, tells him the identity of Kate's "mystery man".

Ian gets acquainted with café worker Jane Collins. They soon embark on a passionate relationship that continues He helps her to come to terms with the death of her husband, David Collins from Huntington's disease.

In September 2004, Ian has a confrontation with mob boss Andy Hunter and calls him a bully boy despite the urges for hardman Dennis Rickman to drop the matter. Andy attempts to smack Ian for the insults, but Ian surprisingly ducks and punches Andy. However, Ian's joy is short-lived when Andy quickly gets up and punches Ian moments later. Towards the end of the year, Ian is given control of Phil's motor garage and the café after his brother Sam Mitchell is tricked by her family lawyer, Marcus Christie, into selling the family businesses - as per-orchestrated by Den. Ian's newfound ownership of the garage displeases both Garry and his colleague Minty Peterson, especially when Ian constantly belittles and humiliates them.

In 2005, Ian is horrified when Phil - having escaped from prison - breaks into his house. Phil punches Ian and again dunks his head in the toilet to silence him. When Phil leaves, Ian calls the police and is delighted when Phil gets apprehended by the authorities. Ian then proceeds to give Sam a hard time, which later prompts her friend Danny Moon to threaten Ian.

Months later, Ian enters a business deal with both Chrissie and crime boss Johnny Allen for the ownership of The Queen Victoria; Chrissie plans to sell the Vic to Johnny in order to escape the country for killing Den. However, Johnny has planned to act for a third party - Ian himself. As the mystery buyer for the pub, Ian faces the wrath of Phil and his family when the Mitchells plan to retake ownership of the pub. Ian's plan eventually fails when Sharon informs him that Chrissie forged her signature to Ian when she sold the pub to him, thereby nullifying Ian of becoming it's new owner.

In February 2006, Ian is devastated to find out that Kathy has died in a car crash. He goes over to South Africa and returns with Ben in March. Ian and Phil's feud starts up again as they each fight for custody of Ben. Soon the two are forced to get along with each other for Ben's sake, but this is nearly threatened again when the three go out for a camping trip with Billy and Peter. An argument between Ian and Phil on the way back to Walford ends with the car crashing with them inside. Luckily, everyone survives.

Ian and Jane get engaged although this is nearly ruined when Ian finds out that Jane had an affair with Grant Mitchell. Ian forgives Jane and the pair end up getting married in July 2007.

Ian briefly threatens to take custody of Ben again after finding out that Phil's fiancé, Stella Crawford, has been abusing Ben behind their backs before she died.

2007-2011: Steven's return, marriage trouble and murder suspect[]

In September 2007, Ian notices that Lucy is behaving weirdly and finds out that she is convinced that her mother is alive. Soon he finds out that Steven has returned and has been stalking him, up to the point when Steven ends up holding Ian hostage for several weeks. Steven then brandishes a gun and threatens to kill Ian, before summoning Lucy and Jane over to the place where Ian is being held hostage. A struggle ensues over the gun and Steven accidentally shoots Jane, which results in her needing a hysterectomy. Ian forgives Steven for his actions, but a year later discovers that Steven has been gas lighting Lucy to the point of attempting to turn her against Ian. Soon the last straw comes when Ian finds out that Steven had attempted to smother his grandmother, Pat Evans, to death with a pillow after she had been hospitalised. Ian confronts Steven for what he has done and disowns him, which prompts Steven to leave the Square once again.

Ian and Jane find their marriage in trouble. Jane wants to adopt a child for her and Ian to have, but his reluctance to agree with her suggestion results in the pair breaking up with each other. Soon Ian manages to convince Jane to give him another chance and she agrees after adopting Bobby.

In December 2009, Ian is seduced by Janine into sleeping with him again. He soon realises too late that Janine has done this as part of her conspiracy plan with Peggy's villainous ex-husband, Archie Mitchell, to blackmail Ian into giving them ownership of the Queen Vic as a result of the Mitchells' financial problems - Sam has lost her bail money over Den's murder, whilst Phil is forced to get a loan from Ian in order to surmount the debts that he owes to a loan shark named Isaacs. When both Archie and Janine threaten to tell his family about his infidelity, Ian is forced to give them ownership of the pub.

On Christmas Day, Archie tells Ian that he plans to expose the truth to Jane. Ian later breaks into the Vic to find a DVD containing footage of him sleeping with Janine, but he is caught by Archie and thrown out of the pub. Ian then threatens Archie, telling him "You pick up the phone - you're gonna wish you were dead!" Later, Archie is murdered by an unknown assailant. Ian becomes a suspect and is arrested by the police when Janine tells them about his motive but he is proven innocent when the killer is later revealed to be Stacey Slater.

In 2010, Ian and Jane find out that Lucy is pregnant after she recently lost her virginity. Lucy suggests to them that Jane raise the baby as her own child. Jane and Ian initially agree with her request, but he secretly helps Lucy have an abortion before lying to Jane that his daughter had suffered a miscarriage. However, Jane discovers the truth and she gets angry with Ian - so much so that she steals Ian's money and plans to leave him. Upon discovering her plans, Ian finalises the arrangements for her to legally adopt Bobby. This manages to convince Jane to give Ian one more chance after she forgives him.

However, Ian later cheats on Jane by sleeping with Glenda Mitchell. The secrecy is eventually disclosed when Glenda attempts to blackmail Ian for money by threatening to tell Jane about his betrayal, only for Ian to confess the adultery himself. Jane then breaks up with Ian and they divorce, but continue to live together despite his children being upset by his actions. Lucy rebukes her father for what he did and leaves for Devon, with Peter later joining her after being equally disgusted with Ian.

Bobby becomes upset by the acrimony between Ian and Jane so much that the couple decide they cannot live together any more; Jane then leaves Walford in May 2011 as a result. Ian then attempts to move on by filling an urn with cigarette ash, pretending that he is a widower and that the ashes are Jane in order to gain attention from women. However, his ruse is soon uncovered.

2011-2012: Relationship with Mandy, mental breakdown and homelessness[]

Feeling dejected, Ian goes to a strip club in August 2011 and is stunned to see his old acquaintance Mandy Salter being thrown out. Ian helps Mandy out and allows her to stay with him. Mandy helps Ian discover his more frivolous side and he realises that he has feelings for her. They begin a relationship, realising that they both yearn for someone to love them, and Mandy accepts Ian's impromptu marriage proposal.

Following the death of Pat, Lucy returns to Walford, angry at Ian for not telling her about Pat's death. She decides to move in with her father and takes a disliking to Mandy. The relationship is marred by Mandy's one-night stand with Ricky Butcher, Ian's insecurities, interference from Mandy's abusive mother Lorraine Stevens, and Lucy's hatred of Mandy. Despite Lucy's best efforts to split them up, Ian is determined to marry Mandy and brings their wedding day forward. Mandy is horrified, however, when Ian chooses her over Lucy and throws his daughter out. Realising that she does not love Ian, Mandy leaves him in May 2012, leading to Ian suffering a nervous breakdown. He wanders along a road barefoot, dressed only in pyjamas, not telling anyone where he has gone.

Two months later, Lauren Branning sees Ian at homeless shelter. Tanya Cross, Max Branning and Alfie Moon find him and bring him back to the Square but Lucy is unsympathetic, angered by him leaving her and Bobby, and slams the door in his face. Ian refuses to acknowledge anyone. He stays with Tanya and Max until Phil finds out that he is back. Phil takes him to his house to ensure that he does not tell anybody about Ben murdering Heather Trott. Ian continues to be unresponsive until Phil's partner Shirley Carter mentions Heather and his memory returns. Ben attempts to help Ian by taking him to the café, but Lucy screams and has him physically removed. Ian, extremely miserable, collapses in tears outside, while Phil worries that Ian will remember that Ben murdered Heather.

After Sharon returns to Walford, she successfully persuades Lucy to give Ian another chance. Lucy agrees but on the condition that Ian signs all of his businesses over to her so that if Ian abandons her again she can be financially secure. Ian agrees to this.

Ben confesses to murdering Heather and is remanded in custody, leaving Ian shocked. He starts working again at the café and getting back into his old life. Phil then gets Ian to visit Ben in prison to try to get him to retract his confession, but Ian says he cannot tell Ben what is right.

Zainab Khan persuades Ian to attend counselling in an attempt to recover from his mental breakdown and, after talking to Sharon, Lucy finally makes peace with her father.

2013-2015: Relationship with Denise, restaurant and Lucy's murder[]

Ian sparks a friendly rivalry with Denise Fox as the two engage in a fruit-selling war, though he irritates her. Denise's sister, Kim Fox, attempts to set them up on a date but this upsets Denise, who kisses Kim's boyfriend Ray Dixon. Kim discovers this and disowns her sister, so Ian allows Denise to stay with him, igniting a friendship between them. It eventually leads to a relationship when he confides in her about his life on the streets. Ian decides to open a restaurant, though Lucy is worried it will fail because of his mental illness. He runs out of money for construction but then finds a box of cash that used to belong to Derek Branning. He also gets Janine to invest in the restaurant, and eventually tricks Lucy into signing over all of the businesses to him.

Peter returns to live with the family and is soon followed by Cindy Williams. Ian lets Cindy stay and Denise also moves in with the family. However Carl White, an associate of Derek, arrives in Walford and soon works out that Ian has spent Derek's money. Carl claims that the money was his and so extorts large sums of cash from Ian as payback. Carl is violent, and burns Ian's hand when he tries to refuse to pay him before promising that the debt will be paid if Ian lies in court and says that he saw Max tampering with the brakes of Carl's car. Ian reluctantly agrees, but on the day of the court case he is kidnapped by Phil and Max is found not guilty. It is then revealed that Max was in on the kidnapping but it was just to lure Carl into a trap. Ian then has to face the consequences of his actions and Denise is angry when she finds out the truth.

Denise thinks that Ian is planning to propose to her as a Christmas present, but he denies it even though he has bought an engagement ring.

Peter reveals that he is in a relationship with Lola Pearce, the mother of Phil's granddaughter and Ian's niece, Lexi Pearce. Phil threatens Ian and forces him to end the relationship. Ian tells Peter this and Peter tells Ian that he has found £10,000 that Cindy stole from Phil. They return the money and Phil blames Ian, believing that he put Cindy up to stealing it.

In January 2014, just as Ian is about to propose to Denise, Jane arrives unannounced. Jane later buys into Ian's restaurant and they begin running it together, leading Ian to harbour feelings for Jane.

Ian is pessimistic when Lucy decides to set up her own property business and later becomes concerned about her when he discovers she is sleeping with Lee Carter and is taking cocaine. He confronts her and admits that she is the child he is most proud of, but this is overheard by Peter, resulting in Lucy storming out. Ian tries to contact her when she does not return home that night, but is later informed by DC Emma Summerhayes and DS Cameron Bryant that Lucy has been found dead. He identifies her body and then shares his devastating news with Jane, Denise, Cindy, Bobby and finally Peter.

Struggling with their grief, Ian and Jane share a passionate encounter, giving Ian hope that they might reunite. When Jane dashes his hopes, Ian takes his anger out on Bobby and Jane decides it would be best if she take Bobby away for a while. Cindy also leaves the Square to return to Devon with her aunt, Gina Williams. Increasingly alone, Ian leans on Phil for support and questions how he can move on from his daughter's death. With Peter's help, he stages an opening for the new and improved restaurant, but during opening night Summerhayes reveals that Lucy's body has been released for burial. Ian leaves early with Peter to see her, but is unable due to his grief. He wants to organise the funeral as soon as possible but discovers that Max and Lucy were together. Ian angrily attacks Max as he carries Lucy's coffin down the aisle of the church and it is clear that Ian is not coping. Worried, Sharon believes that he is relying on pills to numb the pain of his grief and she and Carol Jackson comfort him.

Ian receives texts from Rainie Cross that he hides from Denise. It is later discovered that he paid Rainie for sex on the night Lucy died, and, knowing that he has given a false alibi to the police, Rainie demands money to fund her drug addiction. When Ian cannot pay Rainie, she comes to Walford and tells Patrick Trueman what Ian did. Patrick confronts Ian and decides to tell Denise so Ian arranges a surprise trip to see Denise's daughter, Libby Fox, in Oxford. They leave before Patrick can tell Denise. Patrick suffers a stroke and he is unable to communicate what happened to Denise. Ian meets Rainie at her request but Mick Carter sees them together. When Ian drives away, Rainie approaches Mick who is then arrested and charged for soliciting a prostitute.

Ian tries to convince Denise to put Patrick in a care home, fearful of his secret. However, he eventually agrees that Patrick can live with them. Rainie tells Denise the truth, but before Ian can explain to Denise, Cindy makes a sudden return, already several hours into her labour. Ian delivers her baby daughter, Beth Williams Spraggan, and agrees that she can live with him. Denise moves out, refusing to forgive Ian for his actions when she discovers that Patrick knew and that Ian was willing to put Patrick in a care home to keep his secret. Concerned for Ian, Sharon and Phil organise for him to visit Michelle in America. Ian returns on Sharon's wedding day to try to stop her marrying Phil. Jane returns with the news that Bobby is missing - he is found on Walford Common - he wants to return to Walford and Jane agrees.

2015-2017: Second relationship with Jane, Bobby's arrest and Steven's death[]

Jane falls for Ian again and proposes to him at the Christmas Eve carol concert. They plan their wedding for next February. Ian and Jane get married in the restaurant with their friends and family as witnesses. After Lauren tells Peter that she believes Lucy was murdered by a member of the family, he accuses them of killing Lucy. Jane admits that Bobby accidentally killed Lucy by hitting her over the head with a jewellery box. Though Bobby believed that Lucy was still alive, Jane realised that she was dead and covered up her murder by faking a mugging. Ian, Jane and Cindy decide to cover up Lucy's murder, however, Peter does not agree to do this. Ian, Jane, Bobby and Beth go on holiday for Ian and Jane's honeymoon and Peter leaves Walford along with Lauren.

A few weeks later, Ian and the rest of the Beales return to Walford and reunite Beth with Cindy, but Cindy believes that she is not a capable mother and abandons Beth at the park, but she is picked up by Ian's great nephew Liam Butcher. Ian and Jane agree to adopt Beth, but Cindy decides she does not want to be in the same house as her baby, so says that if she is not adopted into a different household, she will tell everyone that Bobby killed Lucy. After Beth is taken in by her paternal relatives, Ian tells Cindy to leave and not come back.

Jane pays Carol to look after Cindy and Ian finds out from Carol after an argument with her. On the day of Cindy's school prom, Ian reveals this to Cindy. After Cindy gets into a car with two strange men, feeling she has no home, a concerned Ian phones the police. After Cindy returns, Ian tries to convince her that she is wanted and Liam convinces her to give her family a chance, so she and Ian make up. Ian and Jane are upset to learn about a new lead in the murder investigation but they still plan silence even after Ben is arrested in the hope that he is released. However, when Max is arrested and charged for the murder, Jane begins to contemplate telling the truth when she feels guilty for not being able to help Carol prove Max's innocence. Ian is adamant that Bobby's role in the murder will not be made public and confronts Sharon when she discovers the truth. Max is found guilty and sentenced to twenty one years in prison.

Ian puts Bobby in a private school, hoping that it will help with his anger problems. However, to pay for it, Ian decides to sell his restaurant to a supermarket chain, causing the locals to protest. Ian eventually decides not to sell, meaning Bobby must leave the school, even though he is happy there and doing well. Bobby overhears Jane talking about Bobby leaving the school and when she stops him going back to the school, he hits her over the head with his hockey stick three times, leaving her in a critical condition. He tells Ian in the pub that he has killed Jane, just like he killed Lucy, within earshot of everyone in the pub. After Bobby is questioned about the assault, he confesses to the police that he killed Lucy. They are reluctant to reopen the case but Ian is horrified when Bobby says he still has the murder weapon.

Bobby is charged with unlawful killing and denied bail. He is sent to a youth detention centre until his next hearing the following week. Ian then goes to see Jane in hospital, where she tells him that she knows about Steven returning and the Beale family is better off without her, ending her and Ian's relationship. Bobby is sentenced to three years in custody. A week later, after he and Steven visit Bobby in prison and telling him not to appeal his sentence, Ian receives a threatening note from Max, saying that he will never forget what Ian did. Ian worries when Max returns, but Max tells him and Jane that he has forgiven them. Ian is thrilled when Michelle returns. He starts to worry about his health when he has a medical check-up and he is told that his BMI is high. Michelle crashes her car into Ian's fish and chip shop, for which he has no insurance. Max's employer eventually purchases the chip shop, despite it arousing Ian's suspicions.

Ian and Jane are devastated to hear that Steven has a brain tumour - but he has been lying about this in a desperate attempt to stay with Lauren. Jane discovers Steven's lie and that Max has not really forgiven them and is secretly planning revenge. In a bid to get rid of Jane, Max forces Steven to kill her. As a result, Steven sets fire to the restaurant, trapping Jane inside. Steven tries to save Jane, but is violently shoved into a table by Max, who leaves Jane to die. However, while Jane is rescued, Steven dies from a cardiac arrest caused by a liver bleed after being pushed by Max. Ian, Kathy and Lauren are shocked when they learn that Steven did not really have a brain tumour. After Jane comes out of her coma, Max forces her to leave Walford with Ian, but James Willmott-Brown, who is working with Max, orders Max to ensure that Ian remains in Walford, so Max blackmails Jane into leaving Walford alone.

2018-2021: Max's revenge, Dennis' death and marriage to Sharon[]

Ian allows Lauren and Louie Beale to move back in with him and tells Lauren's sister, Abi Branning about making Beale's into a franchise to pass onto Louie. Abi tells him that she is pregnant with Steven's baby but Ian does not take the news well. Later, Lauren warns Ian to watch his back as Max may be out for revenge. A broken Max visits Ian and says he will kill him and Phil for making him suffer in prison. Ian tries to escape but Max attempts to strangle Ian with fairy lights as Lauren and Louie come home. On Christmas Day, Tanya returns to Walford and reveals to Stacey Slater and Abi that Jane told her that Max killed Steven, news which Abi relays to Lauren, Kathy and Ian. Ian attacks Max in the street but Max overpowers and punches him.

In February 2020, Ian discovers that Sharon's teenage son, Dennis Rickman Jr, has been bullying Bobby (who is now a Muslim) for his faith, which results in Bobby being hospitalised, following an Islamophobic attack. Enraged, Ian confronts Dennis during The Queen Vic boat party and angrily locks him in a cabin following a bitter row. However, when Phil and Keanu Taylor's fight leads the boat to crash, Ian instantly goes to rescue Dennis. Despite Ian's best efforts, Dennis dies and Ian is left feeling guilty. Dotty Cotton knows that Ian had locked Denny in a cabin and she begins to blackmail Ian. Although she changes her mind at the funeral, she tries to persuade Ian to be brave enough to confess.

Ian develops feelings for Sharon and he uses Max's money to buy the Queen Vic for her. However, his feelings are not reciprocated. He steals money from a charity set up by Bobby in order to try and frame Max for fraud. Ian is attacked in the Vic by Phil who was asked to do so after Sharon learns about Ian's role in Dennis' death. Sharon and Kathy rush him to hospital where they learn he has a bleed on his brain. Fearing he is going to die, Ian proposes to Sharon, claiming she was always the one woman he wanted all his life. Sharon accepts his proposal. Kathy asks Sharon to get the marriage annulled but she disagrees and vows to be there for Ian. After Phil fails to kill Ian because of Phil saying that Ian will always be family, Sharon mixes lithium into Ian's Christmas pudding to poison him. Over the course of a month, Sharon mixes Ian’s cups of tea with various crushed pills.

Later, Phil changes his mind and agrees to help Sharon murder Ian and they plan to make it look as if Ian has committed suicide, with Phil buying a fatal poison for Sharon to mix into his dinner after planning a romantic evening. However, Ian, after encouragement from Max, who had witnessed Sharon acting dodgy about Ian, finds out the truth and confronts Sharon about her plan to kill him, just before he is about to eat her poisoned pasta. Sharon reveals that she knows about his part in Dennis' death and calls him weak and cowardly, adding that Ian is a hated man and that he deserves to die. A devastated Ian agrees and starts to eat the poisoned food. Willing to let him die at first, Sharon has a change of heart and makes Ian throw up the food, thereby saving his life. She ends her marriage to him and goes to Phil, telling him that if he wants Ian dead so desperately, he will have to kill Ian himself. By the time Phil reaches the Vic, Ian has left the Square.

Off-screen, Ian later sends Sharon an annulment and makes her the sole owner of the pub, although Sharon returns the Vic to Mick and Linda Carter a few days later.

2022: Dot's funeral[]

Ian reconnects with Cindy in July 2022, when he receives a shocking phone call from her whilst he was in Cornwall.

Ian returned briefly in December 2022 to watch Dot Branning's funeral from the distance. After saying his own farewell to Dot, Ian received a phone call from an unknown female, and told them that he would be returning home.

2023 to present: Back with Cindy and return to Walford[]

In March 2023, he sent Kathy an E-Card for Mother's Day.

In June 2023, it is revealed that Cindy (who was previously announced dead) along with her ex-husband and partner, Ian are running a baguette stand in France. Ian finds a picture of Cindy's ex, George Knight and her daughters, Gina and Anna Knight, in Cindy's bag and asks her about it. She reveals that George called her and that she misses the girls. Cindy indirectly causes Ian a heart attack when they argue about wanting to go back to Walford. DCI Mary Nicholls comes to the baguette stand and tells Ian and Cindy that Cindy's cellmate, Jackie Ford, had died. This meant Cindy was no longer under witness protection and didn't have to use the fake name, Rose Knight.

Going against Ian's wishes, Peter plans to head back to Walford to meet his sisters. Later, Ian gets back from picking up a delivery at the baguette stand and Cindy has caught the Eurostar to London. Cindy makes an explosive return to the Square on 28 August 2023. After visiting Lucy's grave she heads to Albert Square. She turns up at the Beales' house where she is greeted by Kathy. They argue with each other. Ian shows up and tries to stop Cindy from going into the Vic and seeing George, Gina and Anna. However, George walks outside, resulting in the ex-lovers seeing each other.

Cindy makes her way into the Vic and sees Gina and Anna for the first time in nine years. Sharon and Phil see Ian and the atmosphere is frosty between them.

Ian is told by Alfie that Anna had slept with Freddie and he exposes her to Bobby and the whole Vic and is punched by Gina as a result.

Cindy is later furious with Ian when she finds out that Ian knew that George and the girls were in Walford. Cindy tells Ian that if he wants to make it up to her then they need to stay in Walford and not go back to France. Ian agrees and later tells Kathy that he will be taking his businesses back from her and that he will be moving back into his house with Cindy. Cindy is furious when Ian tells her that Bobby is moving back in with them, Cindy still blames Bobby for Lucy's death and throws wine at him. Ian then tells Cindy that if she can't forgive Bobby then they are over, Cindy later apologises to Bobby and tells him that she won't stand on his way if he wants to move back in.

Cindy later comes up with the idea to sell mash and pies. Ian and Cindy once again pitch their idea to the Panesars, inviting them around for lunch, but the meeting gets off to a bad start when Ian and Cindy discovers the Panesars are vegetarian and they have only prepared meat pies. Despite this, Nish Panesar likes the idea and invites Ian and Cindy to the Vic to sign a contract. However, before the Panesars sign the contract, Ravi Gulati turns up and tells Nish that his grandson, Davinder Gulati, has gone missing. Despite this news, Cindy and Ian still try to persuade Nish to sign the contract, leading to a furious argument between Cindy and Nish.

Cindy later finds out from Anna that George is selling their bar in Marbella, Cindy tells Ian that she plans to demand half of the money from the sale from George. When Cindy tells George that she wants half the money he reluctantly agrees, Cindy later kisses George but he pulls away but both are seen by Gina who believes they both kissed. Gina later tells Ian and Elaine about Cindy and George's kiss but both forgive them.

In order to avoid buying a deposit for a flat, Kathy's husband, Tom 'Rocky' Cotton, attempts to get Kathy and Ian to make up so they can move back in with Ian, Rocky invites Ian and Cindy to lunch at Sonia's house. Kathy and Cindy continue to argue and eventually Kathy, Ian and Cindy realise it is a set up from Rocky and Ian and Cindy leave.

On 30 October, Cindy and Ian find out that their new business partner at the pie and mash shop is Dean Wicks. Ian knows Dean from when he raped Linda Carter in 2014. The two confront Dean when they see him in person but they've already signed contracts so they have to work together. Linda and other residents are furious with Ian and Cindy but Ian and Cindy defends themselves and say they didn't know their partner was going to be Dean and insist that they can't get out of it.

When Peter is hospitalised after a fire at the café, Ian and Cindy go to hospital to check on Peter, Ian checks on Bobby and he is awake, but Peter has lung damage and is on life support. Cindy is later furious when Kathy admits that she knew the electricity in the café was dodgy, Ian defends Kathy which angers Cindy. George speaks to Cindy, George tells Cindy to forget about Kathy and support Peter. When Cindy sees an officer investing the fire she tells them about what Kathy had told her and the police later arrest Kathy. Ian later discovers it was Cindy that phoned the police on Kathy after Cindy admits it while ranting at Bobby, where she once again has a go at Bobby for killing Lucy. Ian overhears this and begins to question his and Cindy's relationship.

When Dean continues to harass Linda she and Alfie begin to put fliers around the square, Dean threatens to sue Linda if she doesn't take them down. Elaine later convinces Linda to take them down to avoid being sued however Gina later spray paints 'rapist' on the pie and mash shop (now named Beale's Eels). When Dean, Cindy and Ian later confront Linda, she denies being behind the spray painting. Gina then admits that she was behind the spray painting,

Dean later tries to talk to Linda, however George and Cindy see him. When Dean tells George to mind his own business and accuses Linda and George of sleeping with each other George hits Dean, causing Dean to fall down the stairs knocking him out. Cindy initially agrees not to say anything to the police but is later persuaded by Ian not to lie to the police,

On 17 January 2024, Anna and Bobby go out for a meal with Cindy, Ian and Peter, believing it's a date. During the meal, Anna and Bobby order lobster but Anna freaks out when she finds out that the lobsters are boiled alive. Bobby then helps Anna take the lobsters. Cindy, Ian and Peter laugh at the two but ultimately agree to help them free the lobsters back into their habitat. They put the lobsters in the bath and later free them into the sea at Southend. Ian books the two a table at Walford East and, at the end of the date, Bobby and Anna kiss in front of their families. Later that month, Alfie reveals to Ian and Billy that he has prostate cancer after he wet himself the day prior. Both Ian and Billy are shocked but are glad he is being treated, and are supportive of him.

Things are peaceful for Ian until he learns that Lucy's 10-year memorial is coming up, Cindy and the rest of the family are more lower in mood than usual but the whole family, and friends of Lucy gather together and reflect on her life ands the memories, however, Cindy is emotional and runs away. Later, Ian attends Whitney and Zack Hudson's Sten-do as James Bond with Cindy.

Some time later, it comes to light that Cindy kissed George back in April, which is a turning point for Ian and Cindy, he masks his initial emotions but later reveals that it DID bother him and he asks if it'll happen again, Cindy denies anything between her and George and pledges to love Ian, and Ian only. On the flip side, Kathy is very unhappy and publicly humiliates Cindy by slapping her in the street. However, Ian goes back to supporting Cindy and manages to not let it affect their relationship.

In July 2024, Ian starts being secretive and making phone calls to someone, stating that "I call you, not you call me" which causes suspicious of residents around him. Cindy and Peter catch onto this and when Ian is confronted, he lies and says that he is running for the council. When Peter does some more digging and makes some calls, he realises Ian is a liar and has no association with the council. Ian plans to go on a trip to 'Manchester' for the council, and Cindy asks to join him, but he refuses. Cindy's suspicions reach an all-time high when his bag has no suits or signs of attending the council in there. So, she questions if he's having an affair, to which Ian denies it and leaves after reassuring Cindy. He arrives at his destination, whilst Cindy and George keep an eye on the house from a distance, Cindy storms in and meets Ian's mystery person, Jane. Cindy is angry and belittles Ian, arguing with Jane.

Later on, Ian and Cindy argue over Jane’s return to their lives and it gets heated, Cindy slaps Jane which forces Ian to make a realisation. Ian also bickers with George. Despite this, after speaking to George, Ian determines that he’s had enough of Cindy and that he wants to end their relationship, allowing George to have Cindy if he pleases. When Ian drops this bombshell to Cindy, she is shocked.

Kill count[]

Murders/manslaughter victims[]

  1. Dennis Rickman Jr (21 February 2020) (manslaughter) - Locked Dennis in the room of a boat for having his son Bobby beaten up, Phil Mitchell would then cause the boat to crash, Ian went back to save Dennis and managed to get him out but it was too late and Dennis drowned.

Connected murders and deaths[]

  1. Lucy Beale (18 April 2014) (association) - Helped cover up the crime in order to protect his son Bobby who had killed his sister.

Background information[]

  • Ian Beale is one of the original twenty-three characters written by the creators of EastEnders, Tony Holland and Julia Smith. He has gone on to be the longest-running character in the soap's history.
  • Ian has a feud with Phil Mitchell that developed in the 1990s and still is ongoing in presently, making it one of EastEnders' longest serving feuds.
  • As of 2023, Ian has the third highest number of Doof-Doofs of any character in EastEnders' history with 221, only behind Sharon Watts (252) and Phil Mitchell (366).
  • Because the actress playing Ian's mother Kathy Beale was fair-haired, they also wanted him to be fair, and because of Gillian Taylforth's age, he also had to look very young. Ian was meant to be fourteen years old when the programme first aired, but because of licensing regulations, the actor cast was required to be a sixteen-year-old who could "play down".
  • In 1990, Ian's age was increased, and he celebrated his twenty-first birthday two years after his eighteenth. The producers felt Ian needed to be a bit older and more mature for storylines planned for him later that year.
  • In August 2020, it was announced that Adam Woodyatt would be taking an extended break from the show. Ian temporarily departed from the series in January 2021. In May 2021, Woodyatt was asked on The One Show about how long his break would last and he stated it would be about 2022 "the earliest" due to his over commitments in the upcoming months. This break marks the longest period of time Ian has been absent from the show. In June 2022, he ruled out any plans to return at the time.
  • After almost two years away from the show, Ian made an[1] unannounced return on 12 December 2022 for the funeral of Dot Branning, following the real life passing of actress June Brown. EastEnders put Ian's return on a press embargo to stop the public finding out about Ian's return early. Producer Chris Clenshaw later revealed that there were no plans to bring Ian back full time due to Adam Woodyatt's busy schedule.
  • In May 2023, it was confirmed that Woodyatt would return full-time after over two years away and would come back with Michelle Collins reprising the role of the once-presumed dead Cindy Beale.


See also[]