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I don't need him. I don't need anyone.
~ Ian shortly after disowning his son Bobby Beale for killing sister Lucy Beale and siding with their enemy, Max Branning, during an argument between father and son after Bobby confronts Ian for not supporting him enough.

Ian Beale is a fictional character and central protagonist of the long-running British soap opera EastEnders. He first appeared in the show's first ever episode, 19 February 1985, and since then has served as the show's leading co-protagonist throughout the rest of the 1980s and in between the 1990s and 2020s respectively. At times Ian became an anti-hero and even a protagonist villain/central antagonist due to his egomaniacal ways.

He is portrayed by Adam Woodyatt.

Development

Ian Beale started off as the son of Pete Beale and Kathy Beale, as well as one of the grandsons of Lou Beale. Overtime he had a total amount of four wives and in the process became the father of his two sons Peter Beale and Bobby Beale along with daughter Lucy Beale, and is also the adoptive father of both Steven Beale and Cindy Williams as well.

Biography

Early on, Ian Beale was born in Walford - conceived by parents Pete Beale and Kathy Beale respectively. As he grew up he had a close relationship with both his grandmother Lou Beale and longtime friend Sharon Watts, along with family friend Michelle Fowler.

In the 1980s, Ian desired to be caterer against his father's wishes. He soon achieves his goal thanks to his grandmother's support, and in doing so begins to create some businesses of his own after graduating from college. He also helps his mother overcome a traumatic incident where she had been raped by her boss James Willmott-Brown. To stop Pete from doing anything that would get him into trouble, Kathy and Ian work together to entrap Willmott-Brown under the guise of allowing him to try and bribe Kathy into dropping her statement against him; Willmott-Brown is soon trialed and eventually convicted to a three-year prison sentence for Kathy's rape.

By the early 1990s, Ian has already married to Cindy Williams. Their relationship starts off well until Cindy begins cheating on Ian on multiple occasions, going as far as to have a one-night stand with his friend Simon Wicks and later getting pregnant with their child Steven Beale - whom Ian thought was his son until he later found out that Simon was the baby's father.

Ian reconciles with Cindy, but their marriage collapses again after Cindy becomes more dependent on herself and money rather than Ian or their children; early on Cindy got pregnant again and gave birth to two more children, Pete and Lucy, and this time Ian was the father. Cindy later has an affair with Simon's half-brother David Wicks, which is eventually discovered after the pair manage to keep it secret from Ian for a year. When Ian plans to divorce Cindy and take custody of their children, including Steven, she decides to have him killed and hires a hitman named John Valecue to carry out the assassination. Ian ends up getting shot, but survives and Cindy flees to Italy with the boys - leaving Lucy behind in the process.

During this time, Ian is devastated to learn that his father has died. He gradually copes and later becomes involved in his mother's new relationship with her new husband Phil Mitchell, a criminal hardman whom Ian begins to dislike after a incident between them leads to Phil flushing Ian's head in a toilet. Their companionship seems to improve, though, when Phil and his brother Grant help Ian track down Cindy in Italy. This allows Ian to confront Cindy while the Mitchell Brothers rescue Pete and Steven from her custody. However, Cindy later returns to Walford and invokes a custody battle with Ian that ends with her winning the conflict. She is about to take her children away from Ian when the police arrive and arrest Cindy for Ian's shooting, thereby allowing Ian to reclaim custody of the children whilst Cindy is sent to prison for her crimes; Cindy later dies in childbirth and gives birth to a daughter, whom Ian names Cindy in honor of his treacherous ex-wife.

On the same day Cindy gets arrested, Kathy leaves Walford after her marriage with Phil ends in tatters despite the pair conceiving a child named Ben - who becomes Ian's half-brother as a result of this. Ian helps his mother leave and convinces Phil to accept her decision. She later returns in 1999 for a chance of reconciliation, but it doesn't work and again she leaves the square.

By 1999, Ian has been engaged to Mel Healy and they planned to get married in the Millennium Celebrations. When Mel begins to reconsider due to not feeling good enough for Ian, however, he resolves to keep her as his trophy-wife and eventually succeeds after claiming that Lucy is dying of cancer - so that Mel would feel guilty enough to stay with Ian and support his children. However, their marriage only lasts for three hours when Mel finds out that Ian lied and breaks up with him just as the Millennium Celebrations commence. She later divorces him and proceeds to marry her gangster husband Steve Owen.

In 2000, Ian hires Laura Dunn to become his children's nanny. They begin a relationship that initially goes into trouble, but they reconcile after Ian ends up having money trouble that puts his children's future at risk. Soon enough, Ian finds himself subjugated to financial bankruptcy and is forced to seek out others for help - to no avail. He even approaches Phil and asks for his help, but Phil turns him down - as their conflict has at this stage escalated following the events of Phil and Kathy's separation. Consequently, Ian goes bankrupt and loses everything whilst finding himself constantly bullied and humiliated by Phil on several occasions.

In 2001, Ian blames Phil for his bankruptcy and further resents him for what happened with Kathy. This could have been a motive for Ian when Phil is later shot by an unknown assailant on the night Mel and Steve got married. However, Ian is proven innocent when the shooter is revealed to be Phil's ex-girlfriend Lisa Shaw. A while later Ian gets arrested for the crime, but is released after Phil frames his nemesis Dan Sullivan for the crime; Dan gets arrested and falsely trailed for the shooting, in which Ian is forced to be a witnesses on Phil's behalf. That same year, Ian and Laura get married.

By 2002, however, Ian breaks up with Laura after learning that she had an affair with mechanic Garry Hobbs and she later becomes pregnant - with Garry deemed to be the child's father at first. After Laura's death, however, Ian learns that he himself is actually the child's father and names the child Bobby before promising Laura that he'll raise him well.

From 2003 onwards, Ian is relieved that Phil is out of the picture after Sharon's adopted father Den Watts and his son Dennis Rickman force Phil to go on the run for armed robbery. Later on Ian clashes with the square's crime boss Andy Hunter and his gangland successor Johnny Allen, shortly before Phil later returns to the square along with Grant. In 2006 Ian begins a relationship with his employee Jane Collins and they get married, despite Jane's affair with Grant. That same year, Ian learns that his mother has apparently died in a car accident and his conflict with Phil escalates for a while; they later call an uneasy truce when Ben comes to Walford after Kathy's apparent demise.

The following year, Ian learns that Steven has come back to Walford and has begun terrorizing the family in his mother's late honor. Steven later takes Ian and Lucy hostage along with Jane at gunpoint, and a struggle ends with Steven shooting Jane by accident. Jane recovers and Ian reluctantly forgives Steven, until the latter continues his revenge and nearly causes the death of Ian's godmother Pat Evans. Thereafter Ian forces Steven to leave Walford for good, otherwise he'd kill him.

Later on, Ian's marriage with Jane gets into trouble when his frenemy Janine Butcher tricks him into sleeping with her - as part of her co-plan with the Mitchell Brothers' villainous uncle, Archie, to extract The Queen Victoria public house from their mother Peggy due to the family and Ian having a loan partnership in the public house. Janine blackmails Ian into selling the pub to Archie, whom Ian later threatens to kill after Archie plans to expose his deceit to Jane on Christmas Night. However, Archie is murdered and Ian is arrested for murder; Ian is later proved innocent when the killer is revealed to be local resident Stacey Slater.

By the early 2010s, Ian has grown closer to Ben and later supports him after he goes to prison on two different occasions - the second of which he unintentionally killed his former babysitter Heather Trott on the day before her wedding. Ian is later forced by extortionist Carl White to help frame Phil's business rival, Max Branning, as the assailant who tried to have Phil killed in a car crash that Carl had actually planned himself. However, this fails and Ian is later kidnapped by both Phil and Max when they decide to use him to get revenge on Carl. This works successfully after Ian protects Peter following the latter's beat down by Carl earlier on; Carl is later murdered by Phil's cousin Ronnie.

Earlier on, Ian had once again undergone money troubles and he briefly becomes homeless. He later recuperates with the help from his family, particularly Lucy. Later on, however, Lucy is murdered by an unknown assailant and Ian is devastated. He soon finds out on the day that local villain Nick Cotton has died in the square that Bobby is the culprit after months of her death. Ian and Jane resolve to protect Bobby from prison and they end up unwittingly helping Phil incriminate Max as the killer to stop Ben from going to prison as well. However, Bobby's increasingly temperamental behavior leads to him getting imprisoned for the crime; Ian recovers when Steven comes back and helps him get over it. That same year, Ian learns that Kathy is alive and remarried to Gavin Sullivan. With Phil's help, Kathy reunites with Ian after managing to overcome her ordeal from Gavin.

In 2017, Ian finds out towards Christmas that Max has sought revenge against him and Phil for setting him up for Lucy's murder - with Max having conspired with Willmott-Brown to monopolize Albert Square against the community's consent, with Max blackmailing and killing Steven in the process before forcing Jane to leave Walford. When Ian learns the damage that Max has caused and his role behind Steven's death and Jane's departure, he attacks him on the square on Christmas Night.

A few years later, Bobby is released and is accepted into society again. Ian tries to bond with him again despite the latter growing tired of his father's egomaniacal ways and also developing a bond with Max, but then trouble emerges when Bobby gets hassled by Sharon's son Denny. Enraged by this discovery, Ian confronts Denny at a boat party and locks him in a room in a fit of rage. But then the boat crashes and Ian rushes back to rescue Denny, but both end up getting caught in a large pile of water from the disaster; Ian survives and recovers in hospital, but Denny dies after drowning in the incident. When Ian learns about Denny's death, he is guilt-ridden to realize that him locking Denny in the room is partly the reason why Denny has died.

Soon afterwards, Ian comforts Sharon from her loss whilst managing to cover-up his involvement for as much as he can. He soon begins making enemies with Nick's daughter Dotty and fellow businesswoman Suki Panesar. That same year he causes his family to turn against him, and he also marries Sharon after the pair decide to take their friendship a lot further into romantic tendencies. Before Christmas, however, Ian is attacked by an unknown assailant; it is soon revealed that Sharon is responsible and that Phil tried to kill him after the pair learn about Ian's role behind Denny's death. Max finds out about this and warns Ian about Sharon, but he refuses to listen until coming to realize the extent of Sharon's revenge when she tries poisoning him later on.

Eventually, Ian and Sharon have a confrontation over their respective actions. She slaps Ian, who apologizes to Sharon yet she obviously refuses to forgive him: calling him a runt, weak, a coward and detestable man who everyone hates.

He eventually leaves the Square for good, disposing his phone in the bin, as there's nothing for him anymore.

Trivia

  • The character Ian Beale is currently the longest-serving character in EastEnders, having debuted back in the show's first ever episode dated 19 February 1985.

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