Ian Beale has been absent from Eastenders for a number of weeks now and his daughter Lucy has been busy holding the fort and trying to convince anyone who'll listen that he's away sunning himself on honeymoon. The reality, though, is that he got jilted at the altar by Mandy Slater and suffered a nervous breakdown. Ian - played by actor Adam Woodyatt - is now scheduled to return to the show, looking almost unrecognisable, after his breakdown.
The Mirror published a shot of Ian Beale, upon his return to Albert Square, looking more like a tramp than the owner of a local fish and chip shop. With a cut on his face, unkempt hair and a straggly beard, it's a far cry from the Ian Beale that Eastenders fans will know and love. Or hate. Depending on their stance. Even Ian's daughter Lucy struggles to recognise Ian as he returns to the square, in a forthcoming episode. Wyatt has had a six week break from the show - well deserved, after the 27 year stint that he has served on the UK soap. A source told The Mirror that in that break, his character has been "sleeping rough and making friends with homeless alcoholics." A source told the paper "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."
The show's producers have reportedly consulted mental health charities on the storyline. A spokesperson from Time to Change said "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."