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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ian Beale - The EastEnders Mainstay

Okay, here's a trivia question for you.  It's related to this blog, and it's going back to the very early days of "A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S GUIDE TO LIFE". 

Now, I know that today's not Wednesday, but Wednesdays have been a source of stress for this blog in general, as I can't seem to come up with a theme day that sticks around for more than a year.  I honestly don't know how many times I've changed the Wednesday theme day, but it's been more than five times at least.

But do you know what Wednesdays were when I first began this blog three years ago?  You'll probably never guess if you're just tuning in for the first time, but for those of you who do remember reading this blog back in 2011, you might remember it.

Not sure?  Okay.  I'll tell you.

Wednesdays were known as "
ACROSS THE POND AND BEYOND WEDNESDAYS", and the reason why they were called that is simple.  In the United Kingdom (and I only know this because I happen to have a couple of really good friends who live in the UK - hi Mandie and Helen!), they refer to North America as being the land "across the pond". 

Mind you, that pond just happens to be the size of the Atlantic Ocean...but still, it's across the pond!  And the beyond part comes from the area outside of the USA and UK.  It could be the rest of Europe, Asia, Australia, South America, Antarctica...

...well, okay, the only thing that I could show from Antarctica would be that documentary "March of the Penguins"...and even so, I don't even know if they ever filmed down there.  Just guessing.

The point is that on such days in which I did an "Across The Pond and Beyond" day, the subject would deal with a film, television show, musical star, or other pop culture tidbits that have an international flavour.  Whether it's an Italian opera singer, an Australian medical drama, or a South American children's program, anything went.  My initial thought behind doing this theme day was to compare international pop culture with that of American pop culture.  And, I'll make a confession.  Sometimes I prefer the stuff coming out of Britain and Australia than I do the stuff coming out of Canada and the United States.  Hmm.  Maybe that's why London and Sydney are two of the top ten destinations that I want to visit.  Maybe someday I'll get there.

Part of the reason why I was forced to give up this theme day was because I was running out of ideas for it.  But now that it's been a couple of years since I had this feature up and running, I thought that it would be a cool idea to bring it back for this week's edition of "
Tube Talk Thursday".

And I'll be featuring a character that has been a mainstay on a British based drama.

Just to give you an idea as to how long this guy has been on the show that is up for discussion, well, I'll give you the facts.  When this actor was given a job as an actor for a new drama series on BBC in 1984, he was just sixteen years old. 

Who knew that when the show first aired on February 19, 1985 that he would be the only cast member to stay on the show for a consecutive twenty-nine years and counting?  Now a month shy of turning 46 years of age, actor Adam Woodyatt is just months away from celebrating his thirtieth year of service as an actor on the television series "EastEnders", with his character being involved in one of his biggest storylines ever.

You see, a month and a half ago, on Good Friday 2014, the daughter of his character was murdered, and he has since been trying to come to terms with the life his daughter lead, which included drug use, her sleeping with her best friend's father, and other devastating revelations that made him realize that maybe he never really knew who she really was.

Sounds quite dramatic, doesn't it?

But, while the viewers in the UK watch along during the "Who Killed Lucy Beale" storyline (which is set to conclude in February 2015 for the show's thirtieth birthday), here on this blog, I want to talk about the character that Adam Woodyatt has played for twenty-nine years.  And, I suppose the best thing I can say about his character is that he's truly a guy you love to hate.

This is the story of Ian Beale. 

Okay, so as I mentioned before, Ian Beale originated on EastEnders on the same day that Adam Woodyatt's first scenes aired - February 19, 1985.  And, here's some trivia for you.  As mentioned, Adam was sixteen when he landed the part.  But his on-screen mother Kathy Beale (played by Gillian Taylforth) was only thirty-four when she debuted on EastEnders.  So, to make the mother-son pairing more realistic, the producers decided to make Ian Beale fourteen at the start of the program.  Luckily, Adam had the boyish looks to pull it off.

When Ian first appeared on the telly in Britain, viewers saw a nice enough young lad, selling fruits and vegetables from the marketplace in the middle of Albert Square.  After all, the fruit and vegetable stall had been in the Beale/Fowler family for generations.  It was widely expected that Ian would take over the business when his father Pete Beale (Peter Dean) retired.  However, the young Ian Beale - who always had a fascination with starting up his own business - decided that he wanted to pursue a career in catering and food services.  Of course, Ian was reluctant to tell anyone his real passion as he felt his father would show his disappointment in his being interested in such a "girlish occupation".  But with the love and support of his grandmother Lou Beale (Anna Wing), Ian graduated from cooking school, and finds a way to buy the Bridge Street Cafe, which becomes the first of many businesses that Ian Beale would own during his lifetime so far.

Seriously.  He's one of Walford's most successful and least successful businessmen.  Confused?  Well, here's a list of all the businesses that Ian has owned at some point.

BEALE'S PLAICE (a fish and chip shop)
A BRIC-A-BRAC SHOP (can't remember the name)
SCARLETT'S (renamed Beale's Restaurant)
Several flats scattered all over Walford

And, would you believe that with the exception of the fish and chip shop, he's lost ALL of these businesses at some point due to mismanagement of money and general stupidity?  Heck, Ian Beale almost went completely bankrupt in 2000!  I'll get to that story a little later.  Of course, no matter how deep off the rails Ian gets, he somehow always finds a way to land on his feet...much to the annoyance of some of his worst enemies such as Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) or Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks).

Unfortunately, in his quest to become Walford's best business owner, Ian Beale has seemingly turned into Walford's slimiest character.  He certainly deviated a lot from that sweet kid who was first introduced onto EastEnders in 1985.  He lied, cheated, and backstabbed people for a quick dollar, and while he has a couple of very close friends, they are far outnumbered by the people who have it out for him.  Perhaps none more disappointed than those who Ian claims to love with all his heart.

So, where did it go wrong? 

Well, if I had to pinpoint the root cause, I'd blame the fact that Mr. Beale is a womanizer, and more often than not, the women are the ones who usually get him into trouble.  I know it doesn't seem like he'd be the type, but he's been married a total of four times, almost got married a fifth, and is currently involved in yet another relationship which seems to be on the rocks as of now.  And, each one of these relationships damaged Ian in some way.  Let's have a look.


Cindy Williams (Michelle Collins) was Ian's first wife, and the mother of his twins, Peter and Lucy.  Cindy also had another son named Steven, and another daughter, also named Cindy.  And, at first, it seemed as though Ian had hit the jackpot.  After all, Cindy was posh, gorgeous, and had smarts.  But she also had a vindictive and cruel streak, and she really only stayed with Ian out of convenience.  She tried to pass Steven off as Ian's, but it was really fathered by Ian's half-brother, Simon Wicks!  Which lead to this moment.

Ian obviously survived.  And, although things were frosty between both of them for a while, they did reconcile and had Peter and Lucy together.  But then Cindy strayed again, and decided that she would hire a hitman to kill Ian so that she could be free to be with whoever she wanted.  She even attempted to kidnap two of the three Beale children and tried to flee the country!  It didn't work.  Cindy was arrested and she died in prison giving birth to the younger Cindy.  And the marriage caused so much stress and heartache for Ian that it could very well have been the catalyst in destroying so much of Ian's humanity as we knew it.


Mel (Tamzin Outhwaite) and Ian seemed like an extremely odd match.  Mel was a beautiful, sexy woman who managed Ian's bric-a-brac store, and Ian was a sniveling toad of a sleazebucket.  Somehow though, opposites attracted, and Mel and Ian became a couple.  Their wedding was planned for December 31, 1999, so that they could ring in the new millennium as husband and wife.  But Mel ended up falling for Steve Owen while engaged to Ian, and Mel was having second thoughts about being Mrs. Ian Beale #2.  Somehow, Ian got wind of this, and he came up with a nasty scheme to keep Mel in his life.  He actually told Mel that Lucy had cancer and that her dying wish was to see him and Mel get married!

Of course, this was a total fabrication.  And, also Ian's sleaziest stunt to date.  But Mel bought into it until she stumbled upon the truth no more than an hour after she and Ian got married.  She dumped him as Albert Square counted down to the year 2000, making the marriage of Ian and Mel EastEnders' shortest ever.


Ian met Laura (Hannah Waterman) right around the time that his whole business empire crumbled.  You see, Laura was hired to be the nanny to Peter, Lucy, and Steven Beale, and she soon found himself falling for Ian.  Now, Laura wasn't quite like Cindy and Mel.  She was sort of frumpy by comparison.  But Laura did have a really good heart, and Ian saw how much she loved his kids, so he decided to try a relationship with her.  Things almost fizzled out of control when Laura received an inheritance and she thought that Ian was only marrying her for her money, but Ian managed to resist temptation (barely) and stuck it out with Laura.

Too bad the marriage between Ian and Laura only lasted a year and a half.  And, the reason?  Both cheated on each other!  Ian ended up sleeping with Janine Butcher first (setting the stage for a rivalry between Laura and Janine), and Laura slept with Garry Hobbs!  To be fair, Ian started the whole mess by sleeping with Janine.  But when Laura ended up pregnant around Christmas 2002, she assumed that the baby was Ian's.  But Ian surprised Laura by saying that he had a vasectomy six months earlier.  Laura confessed her affair, and Ian chucked her out on Christmas Day!  What a prince, huh?

Epilogue?  Laura gave birth to baby Bobby, and then a few months later, she died falling down a flight of stairs.  But shortly after Laura's death, it was revealed that a blood test proved that IAN was the real father after all (it was explained that during the six month waiting period that the chance that he could get Laura pregnant was still possible).  Bobby is now under Ian's custody.  Poor kid.


If there was someone that I could say was Ian's soulmate, I would have to say that it would be Jane (Laurie Brett).  Jane and Ian didn't get along at first, but when Jane helped nurse Ian back to health after a carnival disaster, Ian slowly found himself falling in love with her.  Though the road to marriage was a complicated one.  Jane was still married to a man who had Huntington's Disease and was deteriorating slowly, so Ian had to be patient.  After his death, Jane ended up sleeping with the brother of Ian's worst enemy which lead to a most fury filled wedding day.  And, of course, Steven Beale went crazy and shot Jane which caused her to undergo an emergency hysterectomy.  Through it all, Jane and Ian tried to make things work, but ultimately they both came to the conclusion that they had fallen out of love with each other, and they went their separate ways in 2012.  However, with Lucy's death, Jane has been seen in Walford more often.  Could there be a shot at romance again?


Mandy (Nicola Stapleton) is an interesting character.  She moved to Walford as a teenager, stirred up a hornet's nest of trouble, and left.  She came back seventeen years later and immediately fell in love with Ian Beale, which caused a lot of tension between Ian and his family.  Lucy Beale especially hated her, as you can see in this clip below.

Well, it turns out that Lucy was right about Mandy.  Mandy ditched Ian on their wedding day, and Ian had an emotional breakdown over it.  He came back to Walford looking like he had slept on the streets for months, and it was only through the love of his daughter, son Bobby, and best friends Sharon and Masood that he began to heal.  And, since his relationship with Mandy, Ian has shown a bit more of a softer side...though who knows how long it will last?

Now, currently, Ian is with Denise Fox (Diane Parish), and the pair was once again an unlikely one.  But with Lucy's death, Denise is stuck in the middle of a no-way-out situation as she feels that she doesn't love Ian, but she can't leave him alone to grieve for Lucy by himself.

And, boy has Ian grieved Lucy.  Watch him as he breaks down in the arms of his worst enemy, Phil!

Yes, Ian Beale is certainly a complex character.  At times, he'll stick up for you (for a price), and other times he can be a real puke face.  But that's to the credit of Adam Woodyatt, who absolutely throws everything he has in him inside the character.  There's a reason why he's the only one to have stayed the whole twenty-nine year history of EastEnders.  He's that good.

Here's hoping he makes it to the thirty year mark!

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