EastEnders' Adam Woodyatt’s rollercoaster life from 'hellish' dad & secret siblings to ‘game-changing’ I’m A Celeb stint
EASTENDERS legend Adam Woodyatt is one of the BBC's highest-paid soap stars and has hung around in Walford longer than anyone else.
The 53-year-old actor reportedly earns between £200,000 and £249,000 for his role as Ian Beale in the BBC soap – and raked in an extra £1.2 million during lockdown from his actor management firm.
Not only that, his new firm Caledfwlch – which he set up ahead of his upcoming stint on I'm A Celebrity – has already banked another quarter of a million pounds.
Adam has reportedly signed a six-figure sum to appear on the ITV reality show, set at Gwrych Castle, North Wales.
Now we can reveal he’s set to earn millions when he quits EastEnders for good – all while his furious estranged wife Beverley, 56, struggles for cash.
According to popular culture expert Nick Ede, Adam could make a killing from his I'm A Celeb appearance, as fans finally get to see the man behind Ian Beale.
Adam's life now is a world away from his childhood, much of which he spent hiding in his bedroom to avoid his father Brinley’s terrible moods.
Here, we reveal how he went from working at the local butchers to a household name worth £1.7million.
Adam grew up in Walthamstow, east London, and attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School – which also boasts Tom Fletcher, Keeley Hawes and Jesy Nelson among its alumni – part-time while studying at Forest Hill school.
He bagged parts in adverts from the age of seven, and at 13 he appeared onstage at the National Theatre in Tom Stoppard’s play On The Razzle.
Upon leaving Sylvia Young he appeared in the BBC children's drama series The Baker Street Boys.
Despite a charmed school life, his home life was a different story.
Adam’s mother Maureen Woodyatt previously told how his policeman father Brinley – who died of cancer in 1997 – “made their lives hell”.
"Brinley believed children should be treated like puppies. He said they needed to be trained. That broke my heart,” she told the Sunday People.
"Everything had to be a lesson for Adam, it was never fun. It wasn't a normal father-son relationship.”
Maureen said he would sometimes refuse to speak to his son for weeks, and his bad moods would force Adam to hide in his bedroom for hours.
She revealed how, although he was willing to pay Adam’s school fees, Brinley would refuse to buy his son toys and new clothes – meaning he’d end up paying for them himself out of his child actor earnings.
Maureen continued: "Everything had to be just right – if it wasn't he would go into terrible moods. Once I forgot to put salt on the table as I was serving dinner. He didn't speak for three weeks.
"I tried to protect Adam from knowing what his father was really like. But Adam always knew from the look on his face whether his dad was in a bad mood.
"He would simply get out of his way and go off to his bedroom.”
EastEnders role and heartbreak
In 1985, aged 16 and working in his local butcher’s shop, Adam won his breakthrough role of Ian Beale.
“I was thinking that if EastEnders didn’t work out, then at least I could go back to cutting meat," he revealed to Radio Times.
"I just wanted to earn money, which does sound very Ian Beale, doesn’t it?"
He left home to live nearer to Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, where the soap is filmed.
At the same time, Maureen moved out and filed for divorce from Brinley for unreasonable behaviour.
She said: "Brinley had been off work on sick leave and was referred to a psychiatrist for help.
"His job had put him under incredible pressure. But the stress he suffered affected all our lives.”
Maureen also took the opportunity to tell Adam about the four half-brothers he didn’t know he had from his parents' secret previous marriages.
She said Brinley was a control freak and forbade her from telling Adam about his siblings, and she didn't dare go behind his back.
It was only when she "escaped" and left Brinley that she was finally able to tell him the truth.
"Obviously he was very shocked. For all those years he thought he was an only child and he'd desperately wanted a brother," she said.
"I told him what I'd been through and he cuddled me and we both cried.
"Adam understood, though he said he would rather have known from the beginning."
Albert Square success
His real life may have been dramatic, but it paled in comparison to his EastEnders alter-ego's.
Over the last 35 years, Ian has had six weddings and five wives – Cindy Williams, Mel Healy, Laura Dunn, Jane Collins (twice) and Sharon Watts.
In 2007 his eldest son Steven shot his then-wife Jane, resulting in her having a hysterectomy, and in April 2014, his daughter Lucy was murdered by Ian and Jane's son Bobby.
He is constantly feuding with Phil Mitchell, has been shot by a hitman hired by wife Cindy, been homeless and even saw his mum Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) return from the dead.
Adam won a Lifetime Achievement award at the British Soap Awards in 2013.
In Gillian’s speech, she said: “He’s EastEnders’ longest serving cast member, whose on-screen character might be one of the most hapless, scheming and, let’s be honest, bloody irritating people you could want to meet.
“But that is testimony to what a great actor he is because in real life he’s one of the most loving, warm and entertaining people you could meet!”
The woman by Adam’s side throughout his time in the spotlight was dancer Beverley Sharp, whom he married on 8th April, 1998, in Disney World, Florida.
The couple have two grown-up children, Jessica, 28, and Samuel, 24, and for many years lived in Southam, Warwickshire.
However in August last year it was revealed Adam had decided to separate from his wife the previous year, and was living in a £93,000 motor home in the countryside.
Sources said the split was amicable, however it later emerged the divorce had turned toxic amid claims Adam wasn’t offering Bev a “fair deal”.
Around the same time his marriage broke down, it was revealed Adam would be taking an extended 10-week break from EastEnders.
He's yet to return to Albert Square, with Ian last seen running away after discovering Sharon had been poisoning him as revenge for inadvertently killing her son Dennis Rickman.
During his time off Adam has starred in pantos and plays and is currently on tour with the stage show Looking Good Dead.
He is said to be paying Bev “interim maintenance payments” to support her as she struggles financially while their divorce is finalised.
Word is Adam is going to step down permanently from his role as Ian after his stint on I’m A Celeb, as he is “desperate” to leave the character in the past.
A TV insider told The Sun: “He’s excited by the prospect of showing the nation who the real Adam Woodyatt is.
“He is optimistic it will open the minds of producers who might have previously only thought of him as Ian."
Nick Ede believes Adam could earn millions after I’m A Celeb, due to his “certified national treasure” status.
He exclusively told us: “The history of EastEnders stars doing well out of I’m A Celebrity is big.
“Charlie Brooks won and Sid Owen became a Bushtucker trial icon – and let’s not forget Joe Swash was an EastEnders fave too!
“I think that Adam will earn millions if he works to his mass appeal and is himself – we haven’t in all these years really got to know him as an actor rather than as Ian Beale.
“This will be a great opportunity for him to shed the character and become a personality in his own right.
“If this works – and I have no doubt it will – then he will be set to earn many millions from endorsements, public appearances, book deals and more.”
Watch this space…
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