HE IS the only person in EastEnders to have been in the soap continuously since those iconic drum beats first came pounding out of TVs across the country in 1985.
Even people who never watch the series know the name of the unlovely character that audiences love to hate. Ian Beale’s history includes infidelity, bankruptcy, homelessness and possibly the shortest marriage in soap history.
But now Adam Woodyatt is learning his lines for the role of evil Captain Hook in the Gazette sponsored Peter Pan, and is looking forward to dressing up in tights again.
“I haven’t done panto for 18 years, so it is so nice to be back doing it. The hook comes in very handy – it’s very good for holding scripts.
“The rehearsals are going very well, really well. We’ve got the first act completely done and by Friday we should have the second act finished as well.”
Speedy work for the cast, who met less than two weeks before they must take to the stage.
But Adam jokes: “We’ve had 10 days, so that’s loads of time!
“It’s all been great fun, and I think it’s going to be really good.”
With a busy schedule of rehearsals and performances, the soap star will not get a moment’s rest until the new year, but he is obviously well organised.
“We’ve been constantly working so we haven’t really had time to think about Christmas too much, but I’ve already done all my Christmas shopping. That’s what the internet was invented for.
“We are the entertainment for Christmas, so we get Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off but we’ll be performing right the way through, which is great.”
Captain Hook is Adam’s chance to play a real bad guy. After all, although Ian Beale is seldom likeable, he is hardly a hardened criminal.
“It’s my first time being a baddie and at the moment it’s great,” says Ian.
“The relationship with Neal Wright, who plays Smee, is really great. It’s very important to get that right and hopefully that will come through in the performance.
“The whole cast gets on brilliantly and we’re all really looking forward to it.”
The chance to do something different is what attracted Adam to the Beck this year, where he watched a friend perform in Cinderella 20 years ago.
“It will be nice to be back. It’s a great theatre – we start rehearsing in there next week.
“When that happens, I think we will realise what it’s going to be like, and get a proper sense for it.”
The entire cast of Peter Pan made a special visit to children in the Peter and Wendy wards at Hillingdon Hospital on Thursday last week.
Adam hopes playing Hook will not scare any children away: “I tried not to frighten the kids. It was a nice visit and hopefully we cheered up some of the kids who might have to be there over Christmas.”
■ Adam Woodyatt is in Peter Pan at Beck Theatre, in Hayes, from December 15 until January 6. See page 33 for more details.