Adam Woodyatt set to take a break from EastEnders as Ian Beale suffers a mental breakdown

By Emily Sheridan

It's fair to say Ian Beale hasn't had the easiest time over the past 27 years.

But the Walford stalwart is set to crumble to his lowest ebb yet when he suffers a mental breakdown.

The chip shop owner, played by Adam Woodyatt, is set to go AWOL, leaving his family terrified.

Turmoil: Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) struggles to come to terms with his brother Ben Mitchell's (Joshua Pascoe) confession to killing Heather

Already suffering financial problems in the run-up to his wedding to Mandy Slater (Nicola Stapleton), Ian is horrified when his half-brother Ben Mitchell reveals he was responsible for Heather Trott's (Cheryl Fergison) death.

As part of the storyline, Ian will go missing from Albert Square, giving Woodyatt his first recent break from the soap since he started in 1985.

Executive producer Lorraine Newman said: 'Adam puts in a fabulous performance as a man teetering on the edge of a breakdown, who finally spirals when delivered a catastrophic blow by someone close to him.'

Woodyatt is set to be off screen for at least six weeks.

Will they make it down the aisle? Ian has been suffering relationship problems with fiancée Mandy Slater (Nicola Stapleton)

In his nearly three decades on the serial drama, Woodyatt has had some huge storylines.

He's been married four times to Cindy Williams (Michelle Collins), Mel Healy (Tamzin Outhwaite), Laura Dunn (Hannah Waterman) and Jane Collins (Laurie Brett).

His first wife Cindy famously hired a hitman to try and kill him, while his stepson Steven goes on to shoot his own wife Jane years later.

Meanwhile, three of his co-stars are also being given extended breaks from the soap.

Patsy Palmer (Bianca Butcher) is being given six months off to spend time with her family, as is on-screen mother Lindsey Coulson (Carol Jackson).

Their co-star Charlie Brooks, who plays Janine Butcher, will also be taking a six-month break, during which she plans to travel around Europe with her daughter in a campervan.

Soap stalwart: A youthful Ian Beale on his 1989 wedding day to Cindy Williams (Michelle Collins)