The EastEnders Actor Who Has Been Around Since The Premiere Episode

Debuting on British telly in February 1985, "EastEnders" has entertained the soap-loving masses for nearly four decades. Clocking in at well over 6,000 episodes, the fictional London borough of Walford has seen its fair share of iconic characters (via HuffPost). From Dot Cotton to Peggy Mitchell, it sometimes feels as though they've been on the show since the very beginning.

As much as you'd like to believe the icons that are Dot and Peggy have been in Albert Square from the get-go, the laundrette assistant Dot came on the scene in July 1985 (via BBC News) while the Queen Vic's landlord Peggy didn't arrive on the scene until 1991 (via Heart). Even then, she was initially played by a different actress. It wasn't until 1994 that Barbara Windsor officially joined the cast after Peggy was reintroduced to the Square.

So if it isn't Dot or Peggy, who's the only character that's been on the BBC soap opera since its inception?

This EastEnders actor has been on the show since he was a teenager

That title belongs to Adam Woodyatt, who played local caterer Ian Beale. Woodyatt initially joined the "EastEnders" cast at the tender age of 17 (via Birmingham Mail), practically growing up on the soap opera set. Having played Ian for more than 30 years, Woodyatt has produced some of "EastEnders" most memorable moments, as MyLondon notes, from being shot by his half-brother's estranged wife to the aftermath of his daughter's murder ("I've got nothing left!"), Woodyatt certainly left his mark on Albert Square.

So it came as quite a surprise in 2021 when the actor left the "Eastenders" for an "extended break" (via RadioTimes). During his time away from Albert Square, Woodyatt broadened his career options and eventually found himself locked up in a Welsh castle with a dozen other celebrities in ITV's "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!"

Prior to appearing on the survival reality show, Woodyatt shocked "EastEnders" fans when he insinuated that his break from the soap may actually be permanent.

Adam Woodyatt has no plans to return to the soap opera in the near future

Just before he and fellow soap star Simon Gregson traded celeb luxury for the cold, dark halls of Gwrych Castle (via House Beautiful), Adam Woodyatt spoke with The Mirror (via Essex Live) about why he decided to appear on the show after being asked numerous times before. "Why have I finally said yes? Because I am not in EastEnders. That is the honest answer," he explained. "I am not in contract with the BBC so I can come and do it."

At the time, Woodyatt remained unsure about his future tenure on "EastEnders," and has remained so. During an appearance on the Channel 4 talk show "Steph's Packed Lunch" (via Radio Times), the actor was once again asked about his future on the soap. "I've kind of left, but not left. It's kind of the way the storyline has gone ... I'm not there," he said. "I could go back, and I could go not go back. I don't know!"

Finding the ongoing speculation "hysterical," Woodyatt made it clear that for the time being, "there are no plans" to return to Albert Square anytime soon.