EastEnders' Adam Woodyatt looks unrecognisable to Ian Beale as he shows off bushy beard after soap exit

EASTENDERS star Adam Woodyatt looked completely different from his character Ian Beale as he enjoys an extended break from the soap.

Adam, 52, is on a 10-month sabbatical from playing the iconic Ian Beale on EastEnders and has been using his time to explore the country on his bicycle.

His latest trip was to Manchester where he left fans gobsmacked with his new look, complete with shaggy beard.

The actor looked worlds away from the character he has played for 36 years as he posted some of his favourite snaps from the ride on Instagram.

Adam captioned the post: "Another day, another bike ride. This time Manchester. Amazing what you see when out on a bike."

Many of his almost 54,000 followers loved the scenic photos, but rushed to compliment the transformed star.

"Love the photos ❤️ you're looking great babe 🔥 xxx," wrote one Instagram user.

Another added: "Nice to see you back 💝"

And a third said: "Cool beard 🧔"

The star recently lost weight after taking up cycling – revealing that his co-star Jake Wood had helped him with his fitness goals.

Last year, it was revealed that Adam will be taking a break from the BBC One soap – and sources told us that this could be a bid for him to drive down his income.

The Sun exclusively revealed in January that divorce proceedings had taken a turn as he tried to settle negotiations with Bev, who he'd been married to for 22 years.

An insider told The Sun On Sunday: "No one could understand why he wanted to take some time out suddenly and do the stage production.

“People have been speculating that it could be so he can get away with paying less in the divorce.

“It would be a tactic straight out of Ian Beale’s playbook.”

Adam walked away from the marriage to Bev in August 2019. He is now set to take a ten-month sabbatical from the BBC One soap while Ian recovers from being poisoned.

He was due to star in Looking Good Dead in venues across the country, but Covid restrictions could see the number of shows cut from 23 to just six.

One insider said: “Despite what he’s saying publicly, she’s had to get lawyers involved to fight her corner.

“The feeling is he’s not offering Bev a fair deal.

 “If it is the case that he was trying to reduce his income, it looks like it might have backfired because Covid is likely to have cut his income a lot more than he anticipated with so many shows having to be cancelled.”

Sources also insisted there was no third party involved in the split, although Bev harboured suspicions. Friends of Bev told The Sun she had no idea why he had walked out and they had not spoken for months.

Now relations between the two have grown even frostier, with no breakthrough in divorce proceedings.

A source close to Adam said: “The pair don’t seem close to reaching an agreement.

“It’s very sad as they were a great team and she was even his agent for more than a decade.”

The star has been in EastEnders since it started in 1985. He is the longest-serving cast member — and the only surviving original character never to have left.

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