EastEnders star Adam Woodyatt has disappointed fans by revealing his character Ian Beale may not return to Albert Square until 2022.
The actor is currently on hiatus from the BBC soap and is living in a motorhome while he is touring with theatre production Looking Good Dead.
The tour was supposed to start in January but has been pushed back to July amid the coronavirus pandemic, meaning Woodyatt’s motorhome won’t be rolling into Walford any time soon.
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Asked on The One Show when Ian would be back, the actor replied: “I don't know. That’s the honest answer.”
He told hosts Alex Jones and Ronan Keating: “The tour runs, at the moment it's running until the end of October, my daughter is then getting married in America so I’m off there to do that.
“There is a possibility, and I really hope it does happen, that the tour carries on until the early part of next year to pick up the dates we’ve had to postpone because of the lockdown, so if the tour carries on I’m not going to be back in EastEnders until sometime in 2022 at the earliest.”
The star’s news didn’t go down well with EastEnders fans.
“Simply can’t hack EastEnders without Ian Beale for another 8 months, sorry that’s depressed me, gonna have to go see Adam’s play,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“You know what, I miss Ian Beale, EE is just not the same without him,” said another.
Woodyatt is the soap’s longest-serving cast member, having played Ian since 1985.
Watch: Adam Woodyatt living in a motorhome during break from 'EastEnders'