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Is Ian Beale the dead body in EastEnders at Christmas? All the clues and theories

Are Ian's days numbered?

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Lacey Turner as Stacey Slater, Balvinder Sopal as Suki Kaur Panesar, Kellie Bright as Linda Carter, Letitia Dean as Sharon Watts, Diane Parish as Denise Fox, Gillian Taylforth as Kathy Beale for EastEnders, with a black and white image of Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale in front.

It’s another unthinkable concept – the idea that one of EastEnders’ most iconic characters could be killed off in the BBC soap’s upcoming Christmas whodunnit.

Yes, we’re looking at Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt), the show’s longest-serving local. But how likely is it that the wannabe entrepreneur is set to meet a fatal end?

Well, at this point, it’s as possible as any other theory, and EastEnders isn’t afraid to knock us off our feet.

So, join us as we delve into just how Ian might find himself at the centre of a murder mystery he can’t come back from…

Is Ian Beale the dead body in EastEnders at Christmas?

Sudden return after exit

Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale for EastEnders wearing glasses, in front of a brown background
Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale in EastEnders. BBC

When Ian walked away from Albert Square in 2021, after nearly being poisoned to death by Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean), we spent the next two years under the impression that we may not see him again.

Although it was never officially claimed that star Woodyatt had left for good, there was also nothing to suggest he would be back.

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Enter: a very much alive Cindy Beale (Michelle Collins) and the soap return of the year! And given how out of the blue Ian’s comeback has been, could it be that EastEnders has brought him in only to end his story for good?

He’s been his usual annoying self, and has arguably got worse after throwing mum Kathy Cotton (Gillian Taylforth) out. Is Ian about to face the ultimate punishment for his selfishness?

Connections to The Six

Balvinder Sopal as Suki Kaur Panesar, Gillian Taylforth as Kathy Beale, Lacey Turner as Stacey Slater, Diane Parish as Denise Fox, Letitia Dean as Sharon Watts and Kellie Bright as Linda Carter in EastEnders.
The EastEnders Six stand over a dead body at the Queen Vic. BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

Son of Kathy, ex-fiancé of Denise Fox (Diane Parish), best friend (and ex-husband) to Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) and ex-in-law to Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner), Ian is closely linked to many of The Six.

Ian has also had run-ins with Suki Panesar (Balvinder Sopal), and may still end up clashing with Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) given his and Cindy’s feud with her mother Elaine Peacock (Harriet Thorpe) and her fiancé George Knight (Colin Salmon).

Given George’s suit of armour is in the background in EastEnders’ flash-forward of the murder scene, what if George steps in to defend Linda against Ian – but things go too far?

Or might Ian’s truce with Sharon be an act, resulting in a revenge plot over her previous attempt to kill him, which leads her to end his life for real mid-showdown?

Perhaps relations between the Beales and Panesars sour once more, and Suki has reason to strike against Ian? However outlandish these theories might seem, Ian’s links to these women are certainly worth considering.

Parallel – knocked to the floor in The Vic

Last month, Ian was dealt a punch to the face by Cindy’s daughter Gina Knight (Francesca Henry) after he badmouthed her sister Anna (Molly Rainford).

With Ian ending up on the floor of the pub – the location of that lifeless body come Christmas Day – one fan felt that this could be a hint as to his future fate.


Are they right? Might Ian’s moment of humiliation be a serious clue that he’ll be resting on that same floor soon enough, with no chance of recovery? Anything could be a clue at this point, so we’re not ruling it out.

Cindy rewrites history as The Seventh

Colin Salmon as George Knight, Michelle Collins as Cindy Beale holding a rose, and Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale in EastEnders.
Colin Salmon as George Knight, Michelle Collins as Cindy Beale and Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale in EastEnders. BBC

This isn’t the first time RadioTimes.com has pondered Cindy having a leading role in the festive storyline. There could indeed be a seventh member of the all-female group, and that person could be Cindy.

With Cindy having tried to kill Ian decades ago, the pair appear to have put the past behind them. But what if she ends up rewriting history – only to actually succeed in bumping off Ian this time around?

The chemistry between Cindy and ex-husband George is very much sizzling, and it feels like an affair is imminent. Would Cindy resort to murder to get rid of Ian so she can reclaim George, or might something else lead her to kill Ian? Let’s face it, Cindy isn’t a completely reformed character…

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