EastEnders actor Adam Woodyatt has said that his character Ian Beale will not return to the BBC soap until at least 2022.

Speaking via video link to The One Show from his motorhome, Woodyatt, who has acted on EastEnders for over 35 years, told hosts Alex Jones and Ronan Keating about his new theatre tour and revealed that he hoped to be back in Albert Square at some point next year.

Explaining his absence from the soap, he said, "Well I am off to do a theatre tour. I was supposed to start it in January, then it was April, then it was June, finally we are starting in July, in Leicester, before going all around the country, all the way up until the end of October."

He added: "I have done pantos over the years, but this is the first straight drama I have done."

Asked by Ronan Keating when Ian Beale would be back on the Square, Adam, who was last seen on EastEnders in January replied: "I don't know that’s the honest answer - the tour at the moment runs until the end October and my daughter’s then getting married in America so I’m off there to do that.

"There’s a possibility - and I really hope that does happen - the tour carries on will run until the early part of next year to pick up the dates we’ve had to postpone because of the lockdown.

"So, if the tour carries on, I’m not going to be back on EastEnders until sometime 2022 at the earliest! Sorry!"