The actor tells us about coming to Richmond Theatre, touring in his motor home and his time on ‘I’m A Celebrity’ …
Adam Woodyatt is fresh off I’m A Celebrity when we speak. The actor, who rose to fame as Ian Beale in EastEnders, absolutely loved the experience – even his close encounter with rats and bugs.
He’s now back in rehearsals for Looking Good Dead, a thriller based on Peter James’ popular novel, and is coming to Richmond Theatre in February. Adam will play Tom Bryce, who inadvertently becomes a witness to a vicious murder.
Other than doing the occasional panto, the play marks Adam’s first time back on stage since 1982 as a 13-year-old at the National Theatre in Tom Stoppard’s On The Razzle.
He joined EastEnders a few years later and the rest is history – he went on to become the longest serving cast member, appearing continually for 36 years.
The play came along at the same time his character was taking a pause from the soap. It was the perfect opportunity for Adam, 53, who had wanted to work with producer Joshua Andrews for a while. “Colleagues had worked with him before on Peter James’ books and I wanted to do something but the dates didn’t work out at the time.”
He is loving being back on stage. “I had forgotten how much I actually enjoy doing theatre because it’s been so long but it was the reason I fell in love with acting all those years ago as a kid.”
So what does he prefer – stage or screen? “It’s two completely different ways of working. I’ve done TV forever. The last time I did a straight play was 40 years ago. I’m enjoying being back on stage but it’s not like I won’t do TV again.”
And being in front of an audience live? Adam says he doesn’t get any nerves.
“No, I don’t worry about things like that. I’m fine. And I found that worrying is almost counterproductive. You’ll spend so much time worrying about forgetting your lines, you’ll end up forgetting them.”
Adam will reunite with Laurie Brett – who played his wife Jane in EastEnders –in the play. “It’s great to be back working together again. We have a familiarity and a sort of shorthand between us because we have worked very closely together for so long.”
The play toured last year with Gaynor Faye in the role of Tom’s wife. “I’ve loved working with Gaynor, she has been brilliant and it was a lot of fun. But for me it will reinvigorate the rehearsals because it’s almost like doing a new show as Laurie and Gaynor each bring their subtle differences to the role and that brings out subtle differences from me.”
As the play tours the country, Adam will be heading to the venues in the motorhome in which he is permanently living. He’s had something of a nightmare finding a campsite near Richmond though. “I’ll be cycling 14 miles there and 14 back every evening… so if anyone has a driveway closer by and can help me out…?”
And he doesn’t know the area well. “I’m an East Londoner originally. And I am most familiar with the North West of London. I thought I had to get a passport here. South London has always been a foreign country to me. I’m surprised they let me in.”
The actor recently headed to the ‘castle’ joining fellow stars in the reality show I’m A Celebrity. He loved the experience. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and have watched it over the years, from Tony Blackburn in that first year when nobody knew what was going to happen. When they asked me, I was no longer under contract to EastEnders, so I jumped at it. But then I had to try and work it around my daughter’s wedding – and that is why I was late in to the show.”
Adam and his wife of 22 years announced their separation in 2020. They have two grown-up children together.
“I loved every minute of I’m A Celebrity. I’d go back there in a heartbeat. It was as if you left the world behind because everything is taken away from you – your technology, any form of communication, you couldn’t even see what time it was – all the things that can complicate our normal lives. You didn’t have all that bother.”
As to the hardest part? There wasn’t one. “I genuinely loved it all. I enjoyed the trials. The only difficult part was the time constraints on them, which meant there were some things you just couldn’t do in that amount of time. But the other things – the snakes, the rats, the bugs, were fine.”
But he adds: “In the real world, if you asked me to stick my head in a container full of rats, the answer’s no. But in a controlled environment, it’s okay.”
So, what’s next for the actor after the play finishes in April? He’s not sure. “If I don’t have any work lined up, I’ll be helping my friend out at Tom Kerridge’s Pub in the Park festivals. I helped before and enjoyed it so much.”
And the question on every EastEnders’ fans’ lips… is he heading back to Albert Square any time soon? “It’s a question I can’t answer. When the time is right for them, and for me… It’s not me saying I don’t want to go back. It’s not them saying we don’t want him back. There are no plans.”
Adam is a keen cyclist and a runner, participating in the London Marathon to raise money for the Air Ambulance service. Any plans in the pipelines for more of the same? “I have done the London Marathon twice and I loved it. I’d like to do one again. The atmosphere is incredible. It’s the crowds that really make it special. Or I might do a charity bike ride – maybe cycle around Britain – that would be nice…”
Looking Good Dead, Richmond Theatre
Monday 14 – Saturday 19 February