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Adam Woodyatt: Why I’m living in a motorhome - and my secret summer plans in Cambridge



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Adam Woodyatt seems to be loving life after EastEnders. As we speak he is in good spirits, sipping coffee while overlooking a forest in the rain from his new motorhome.

The former soap actor, who played Ian Beale for 36 years, has taken the chance to experience life on the road while on tour with the new theatre production of thriller Looking Good Dead.

He will be rolling up to the Cambridge Arts Theatre at the end of the month to play Tom Bryce, a businessman who quickly finds himself out of his depth after discovering a computer memory stick on a train seat and then making the mistake of watching the contents, setting in motion a terrifying series of events.

Looking Good Dead. Adam Woodyatt as Tom Bryce and Laurie Brett. Pic by Jack Lawson. (54262211)
Looking Good Dead. Adam Woodyatt as Tom Bryce and Laurie Brett. Pic by Jack Lawson. (54262211)

While in the city, Adam also hopes to meet up with fishing buddy and well-known Cambridge chef Daniel Clifford, who runs restaurant Midsummer House. And after the theatre tour finishes in April, Adam reckons he is set to return to Cambridge with a surprising summer plan.

“As has been very well documented in most of the red tops, my life has changed quite a lot. So being on tour actually suits my life as it is now,” says Adam, who has been going through a very public divorce. He bought the motorhome as a way of travelling between theatre shows, but has found it suits his love of being outdoors.

“It was going to be just for whilst I was on tour, but my daughter, who was living with me, has moved to America. So I didn't need a place for me and her. It was a case of well, fine, I'll just I'll just carry on living in the motorhome. I don't need that property anymore,” he explains.

Adam Woodyatt. Pic by Graham Michael. (54271156)
Adam Woodyatt. Pic by Graham Michael. (54271156)

“It has given me loads of freedom, which has been great. I'm looking out of the back window at the moment into some woods, which is nice. I would open up the roof to get some air but it's bleeding freezing today. It's just nice to visit all these places. One week I wake up next to the Thames, another time I'm overlooking a lake. Next thing I'm by a field with a cow in it. ”

I ask where he has visited in the motorhome. Adam says: “Follow all the previous tour venues and there is your first clue to where I have been in it. And then there's various other places I like to sneak off to, like Wales. That will always have a place in my heart. I like Yorkshire as well. And Devon and Cornwall. So there's lots of places that once this tour finishes that I'm going to I'm going to go and spend some time at.”

Looking Good Dead. Adam Woodyatt as Tom Bryce and Luke Ward Wilkingson as Max Bryce. Pic by Alastair Muir. (54262209)
Looking Good Dead. Adam Woodyatt as Tom Bryce and Luke Ward Wilkingson as Max Bryce. Pic by Alastair Muir. (54262209)

The motorhome also allows Adam to travel around different places on his bike and cycling has become a passion for the actor.

“I really enjoy getting out on my bike. It was something I liked doing in the past too but it’s much easier now.”

That's because over the past couple of years he has lost a significant amount of weight. But it turns out he hasn’t been on a huge diet and fitness programme.

“Basically I gave up alcohol,” he says. “That was the biggest change I made. With giving up alcohol, the weight drops off and because the weight dropped it was easier to cycle. So it was easier to stay fit. That's all it was. I'm just not really focused on it. I've not really made a big fuss about it. I just stopped drinking. But everyone's different. For me, giving up alcohol was the right thing to do. I'm not going to turn around and say that's it forever, that I'm never ever going to drink again. But at this point in my life, yeah, I'm quite happy not drinking. And the result is I've lost about three stone in weight.

Adam Woodyatt. Pic by Graham Michael. (54271124)
Adam Woodyatt. Pic by Graham Michael. (54271124)

“I had always liked cycling but as anybody who cycles knows, it's a lot easier if you are lighter. People will spend hundreds of pounds on shaving 10 grams off equipment, like lighter pedals. Just go and lose some weight and your body will be 10 pounds lighter than that. I used to love cycling but stopped for quite a while because obviously it wasn't that easy when you are carrying that extra weight. I've just got back into it now because it fits with my life at the moment.

“I feel 100 per cent better now. Until you actually stop drinking you don't realise how much it affects so many things. Now I just drink coffee because it tastes better.”

The cast of the show often exercise together, particularly going hiking.

“We’ve been walking in the Malvern Hills,” says Adam. “And one time they all walked up Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh the morning after two shows. I gave that one a miss!”

Looking Good Dead. Adam Woodyatt as Tom Bryce. Pic by Alastair Muir. (54262207)
Looking Good Dead. Adam Woodyatt as Tom Bryce. Pic by Alastair Muir. (54262207)

Adam will be joining former EastEnders co-star Laurie Brett - who played his wife Jane Beale - on stage in Cambridge in the world premiere production of Looking Good Dead, the latest stage adaptation from best-selling author Peter James. Laurie’s other television credits include Waterloo Road and Deadwater Fell.

He plays the lead role of Tom Bryce who, after finding the discarded USB memory stick, inadvertently becomes witness to a vicious murder. Reporting the crime to the police has disastrous consequences, placing him and his family in grave danger. When Detective Superintendent Roy Grace becomes involved, he has his own demons to contend with, while he tries to crack the case in time to save the Bryce family’s lives.

Adam says: “This book is the second of Peter’s Detective Roy Grace mysteries and he told us about how a police officer had helped him out with his research and that the things he’s been told about by this copper were far worse than anything in the play. He scared the bejesus out of me! It turns out this isn't just something that has come out of his imagination. It's not like some dark place in the back of a warped writer's mind. Right? This stuff was actually happening!”

Adam Woodyatt. Pic by Graham Michael. (54271210)
Adam Woodyatt. Pic by Graham Michael. (54271210)

So audiences can expect a gritty, sometimes scary story.

But Adam promises: “Whatever we do on stage is ridiculously tame compared to what Peter described to us!”

He is thoroughly enjoying being back on the stage for the first time - excluding pantos - since his teens.

“It's been an awful lot of fun. I love being back in the theatre. It's a completely different discipline, and working process. I forgotten how much I enjoyed it, because I hadn't done it since I was a kid. Basically being in the theatre is what got me into acting and ultimately, into television in the first place. So I've come back to where we started. Well, I've got more lines now than last time.

Could you imagine Ian Beale with sheeps' testicles in his gob like I did? The fuss he would have made? He would have been an absolute melt.

“This role has been lined up for ages, it's just that the pandemic kept getting in the way. We were supposed to have actually started a year ago.”

The tour started last year, then took a hiatus. Adam was one of the contestants in last year's I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, filmed in Gwrych Castle in North Wales. Did he see it as a chance to shake off people’s expectation that he and his EastEnders character Ian Beale are the same person?

“People are always going to draw the comparisons between whatever I do and Mr Beale,” says Adam.

“But for me Ian started at Main Gate and finished at the Main Gate [of the TV studios], and so I literally picked him up as I went in and dropped him off when I left. And I would hope from people seeing more of me in the castle they would actually realise that I’m not Ian Beale.

“I mean, seriously, could you imagine Ian Beale doing the challenge with the sheeps’ testicles? Could you imagine Ian Beale with sheeps' testicles in his gob like I did? The fuss he would have made? He would have been an absolute melt. Whereas I'd gone, fair enough, I will just move them from there to there.”

He credits never being consumed by the long-standing role with starting very young in his professional acting career.

“By the time I got to EastEnders [at age 15] I had worked in the West End, worked at the National Theatre; I'd done an eight-part series for the BBC and a six-part series for ITV. I wasn't the inexperienced kid everyone perhaps thought I was,” says Adam.

“I had actually worked consistently before I'd even got to EastEnders. So yes, I was naive and immature and inexperienced in some ways, but not in everything.”

His co-star in the play until now has been Gaynor Faye, but due to other commitments she is leaving her role of Tom’s wife and will be replaced by Laurie Brett. 4

Adam says: “Gaynor has been an absolute joy. But she's not doing this second part of the tour. It's partly because we still should have finished the tour in July last year but it was held up by the pandemic.

“But I’m really looking forward to working with Laurie again. Straight away in the rehearsals, it was very easy and very familiar between us. Gaynor and I have built up a really good relationship on stage. But that relationship's already there with me and Laurie because we worked together so closely for so long. There is just that familiarity.”

After leaving the security of EastEnders, the future looks wide open for Adam.

"I'm not going to rule anything in or rule anything out,” he says. “I'm just going to wait and see what happens and take one job at a time. When this job finishes, we'll see what comes along. It could be something on telly. It could be something on stage. It could be unemployment, but I have no idea.”

We struck up a friendship because we both like Star Wars and fishing - the normal things in life

When the theatre tour ends in April, Adam does have one unusual ambition to fulfil. “My friend Daniel Clifford has previously offered me a bit of time working in his kitchen at Midsummer House restaurant in Cambridge, so I might go and do that for a couple of weeks in May.

"Knowing Daniel he will have me doing the washing up! No, he's a good mate. We go fishing together when we get time. He’s a really good fishing teacher as well. I thought I was quite good at casting when I'm fishing, but he’s taught me how to do it properly.

“I met him a few years ago at Pub in the Park and we struck up a friendship because we both like Star Wars and fishing - the normal things in life.”

So why does he want to go and work in a restaurant kitchen?

“I will just do it secretly because I'll be doing it for me, I'm not going to be doing it for someone else. I think I would enjoy the teamwork involved. I do like being part of a team. And it will be a new set of skills to learn. It’s not everyone's idea of fun but I will enjoy it - I think if I hadn’t been an actor I would have probably gone down the hospitality route for my career.”

After his stint in the kitchen, Adam is thinking of returning the favour to Daniel and taking him on a camping and fishing trip.

“I think the next fishing trip might have to be after May and I might take him for a swim in a lake I’ve found in Swindon. But he's not sleeping in my bleeding van, he can sleep in his tent...”

Looking Good Dead, by Peter James, is at the Cambridge Arts Theatre from Mon 31 January - Sat 5 February.

Tickets: £25-£45. Booking office: cambridgeartstheatre.com.



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