Laurie Brett as Jane Beale (2011)
|Portrayed by||Laurie Brett|
|First appearance||22 June 2004|
|Introduced by||Louise Berridge (2004)
Dominic Treadwell-Collins (2014)
|EastEnders: E20 (2010)
"East Street" (2010)
Lesley Jane Beale (previously Collins and Clarke) is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Laurie Brett. She made her first appearance on 22 June 2004. Brett took maternity leave in 2011 and departed on 19 May. She returned on 8 November and departed on 27 January 2012. Jane returned to the show, temporarily, in January 2014. She departed again on 20 May 2014, before making a permanent return on 11 September 2014.
Jane comes to Walford with a funfair as she is working on the candy floss stall where she argues with Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) but helps out when the funfair collapses. She moves to the Square and becomes friends with Ian. She reveals that her husband, David Collins (Dan Milne), is in a hospice with Huntington's Disease. David dies and Jane and Ian start dating. She moves in with him and his children, Lucy (Melissa Suffield/Hetti Bywater), Peter (Thomas Law) and Bobby (Alex Francis). When Jane and Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp) intervene over a feud between Ian and Grant's brother Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden), they end up kissing. Jane tells Grant she is not in love with him. After an argument with Ian, she has sex with Grant but stays with Ian and Grant leaves Walford. Phil tells Ian about the affair so Ian proposes to Jane, quietly planning to humiliate her at the wedding. Jane learns this on their wedding day and disappears. Ian finds her and they have a fight but realise they love each other and want to be together. They marry in secret.
Ian's stepson Steven Beale (Aaron Sidwell), who has been living overseas, returns to Walford and takes Ian hostage, locking him in a flat. The family eventually learn where Ian is and try to rescue him but Jane is shot in the process. She and Ian agree to have a baby when she recovers but Jane needs an emergency hysterectomy, leaving them devastated. Jane starts going to a stand-up comedy club, telling Ian that she is going to the gym. However, he knows she is lying so Tamwar Masood (Himesh Patel) takes him to the club where she is on stage. He is amused initially but hurt by her jokes about him and their sex life. He gives her an ultimatum—give up her hobby or end their marriage. After she is accepted by a talent scout, Jane is shocked by Ian's insistence that he become her agent but his interfering takes the fun out of it so she ends her comedy career.
After Ian invests in Masala Masood, the curry business run by Masood Ahmed (Nitin Ganatra) and his wife, Zainab Masood (Nina Wadia), the Masoods and Beales go into business together. Jane has a flirtatious relationship with Masood. She talks to Ian about the possibility of adopting but he refuses to consider it so Jane turns to Masood for comfort and they kiss. Ian changes his mind about adoption but Jane knows it is only for her sake and leaves Walford. Ian finds Jane but she refuses to come home. She only returns when Bobby goes missing. Jane discovers her brother, Christian Clarke (John Partridge), is having an affair with Masood's son, Syed Masood (Marc Elliott), while Christian acts as Syed's wedding planner. Zainab discovers this, and blames Jane for Christian coming to Walford. When Zainab hears Tamwar playing an audio recording of Ian having sex with Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks), she plays it to Jane. Ian explains that Janine was blackmailing him and admits he stole Archie Mitchell's (Larry Lamb) laptop on the day he was murdered to retrieve the recording. Ian is arrested when Janine implicates Ian in Archie's death, but the charges are dropped. This damages Jane's chances of adopting.
Jane learns that Lucy is pregnant and suggests Lucy consider an abortion but Lucy wants Jane and Ian to adopt the baby. Jane agrees but Ian does not want to and blames Jane for taking advantage of Lucy. Ian speaks to Lucy, convincing her to have an abortion. He arranges it, while telling Jane that Lucy has miscarried. Fearing that Jane will learn the truth, Ian persuades her to visit her mother, Linda Clarke (Lynda Baron), in Florida. Jane is suspicious but Lucy convinces her to go. That night, Masood reminds her of their kiss and asks if he can go with her but she goes alone as Masood stays in Walford, due to Syed's suicide attempt. After Jane returns, the family learn that there are inconsistencies with Lucy and Peter's exam results, and the papers will be investigated. Lucy denies cheating but later admits that she did. Annoyed about Lucy's lies, Jane tells Lucy's friend Zsa Zsa Carter (Emer Kenny) that she is upset about Lucy's lies. Zsa Zsa assumes Jane is talking about the abortion and tells her about it. Jane asks Lucy to promise her that she is not hiding anything else, which she does. However, Jane learns that Ian knew Lucy planned to cheat in her exam and about the abortion, so decides to leave once she has got what she feels she is owed. She opens another bank account and plans to secretly transfer funds before leaving, telling Ian that she no longer wants to adopt but Ian suggests she adopt Bobby and she agrees, as she can fight for access of him. Jane tells Christian about the abortion and he urges her to leave Ian, offering to help.
Kim Fox (Tameka Empson) brings a letter from the bank about Jane's secret address to Ian. He asks Jane about it and she says she has been saving for a holiday and then has to book one but Ian is suspicious, watching Jane's every move. Jane discovers that Ian is planning to buy the local Indian restaurant, the Argee Bhajee, without consulting her. Angry, Jane tells her friends that she does not love Ian any more, unaware that he has overheard. Ian attempts to woo Jane by cooking her a meal and offering to name the Argee Bhajee after her, admitting that he overheard what she said at Zainab's house. In response, Jane reveals that she knows about Lucy's abortion and is sick of his lies. She meets Masood and the pair console each other about their respective partners. They go to a hotel, intending to have sex but change their minds and decide to remain friends. When Jane returns home, she admits what happened to Ian and the pair reconcile.
Ian asks Jane to renew their wedding vows and she agrees. Days later, Ian admits to having sex with Glenda Mitchell (Glynis Barber) but is hopeful that Jane will forgive him. However, she tells him she cannot and they end their relationship, but continue to live together. Ian is determined to win her back. She is horrified when Greg Jessop (Stefan Booth) asks Ian to be best man at his wedding to Jane's best friend Tanya Branning (Jo Joyner). During Tanya's hen night, Jane and Tanya get drunk and Tanya accuses Jane of being jealous, so Jane refuses to be Tanya's matron of honour. Returning home, Jane finds Greg bringing Ian home and she goes to kiss Greg, who pushes her away. Filled with guilt, Jane admits what she did to Tanya and they reconcile. Jane and Ian's relationship deteriorates when she meets a man named Martin (Alasdair Harvey) at a pub quiz. They have a brief affair but she ends it but Ian tries to make Jane jealous by hiring an escort named Jeanette (Georgia Reece). Jane learns that she is an escort and mocks Ian, so he calls Jane a prostitute disguised as a wife, She then vows to take everything she can in their divorce. Jane tells Masood that she is in love with him and asks him to leave Zainab but he refuses, telling her that he loves her but does not want a divorce. Jane wins the café in her divorce from Ian. Bobby is upset by their arguments, and Jane realises she must leave Walford for his sake, so there are no more arguments. She promises to see Bobby regularly, and leaves after removing her wedding ring. Ian and Jane's divorce is later finalised.
Jane returns six months later after Bobby visits her and is shocked to learn Ian is engaged to Mandy Salter (Nicola Stapleton) and that Masood and Zainab have split. Masood tells Jane that he cannot just be friends with her and begin a romantic relationship. Masood and Jane go to dinner at Ian and Mandy's house and Ian asks how their relationship can develop if Jane is not a Muslim, so she tells Ian that she will convert, surprising Masood. Masood says she does not have to, so she is relieved. She sees Masood kissing Zainab and tells Zainab's new partner Yusef Khan (Ace Bhatti), and her relationship with Masood ends though they stay friends. As Tanya has cancer, Jane helps organise a function to raise money for cancer charities. At the event, Jane's former cuisine tutor Gethin Williams (Bradley Freegard) arrives. He is impressed with Jane's catering and asks her to interview for a job at his new restaurant. Jane is reluctant but Tanya sets it up regardless, telling Jane the next day and persuades her to go. She is offered the job, but it is in Cardiff, about 150 miles away. She accepts the job but Tanya assumes she has decided to stay in Walford as is horrified when Masood reveals the truth. Tanya is upset and says that Jane is no longer her friend. Jane is tempted to stay when Ian tells her that his half-brother Ben Mitchell (Joshua Pascoe) needs her but Christian convinces her to go, telling her not to give up on her dreams. As she and Christian are leaving, Tanya runs out of her house, and the two reconcile. She leaves and joyfully exclaims that she can now be whoever she wants.
In January 2014, after Peter begins to worry about Ian's behaviour, he calls Jane. She arrives at their house, to Ian's shock, as he is about to propose to his current girlfriend, Jane's old friend Denise Fox (Diane Parish). Things are awkward between her and Denise, and Ian breaks down after a heart-to-heart with Jane, revealing that the pressure of his life is overwhelming him. Jane encourages him to remain strong and advises Peter to talk to Denise about it. Jane returns again the following month to see her step-son Bobby compete in the spelling competition finals at school. Jane notices that there is something not right between Ian and Denise so gets ready to leave. However, Denise tells Jane that she shared a kiss with Fatboy (Ricky Norwood), insisting that it was a stupid mistake and that she feels very ashamed of herself. Jane advises Denise to tell the truth, which she does and Ian forgives her. She later tells Ian that she will buy Janine's share of Scarlett's.
Jane leaves Cardiff to lodge with Masood. When she hears that 15 year-old Cindy Williams (Mimi Keene) is pregnant, Jane reasons with her and takes her for a scan. She makes it clear to Ian that she intends being an equal working-partner in the restaurant. Masood misinterprets Jane's advances and kisses her, but she swiftly rebuffs him. Whilst bonding with Jane over past experiences, Ian kisses her but Jane is humiliated and flees the house, spilling hot coffee over Max Branning (Jake Wood) in the process. When attempting to apologise to Max, Jane is appalled when he tries to seduce her and ends up in the launderette. After some advice from Dot Branning (June Brown) she returns to the Beale home to help Ian go through their business ideas. Later on, Jane makes it clear that she and Ian are only friends but agrees to keep the truth from Denise. Masood's daughter Shabnam Masood (Rakhee Thakrar) dislikes Jane and Masood's closeness and plots to push Jane closer to Ian, scheming against them and Denise when Denise enlists her help in pushing Jane and Masood closer together. Realising that she is affecting Denise and Ian's relationship, Jane starts a relationship with Masood and continues to live with him.
Jane is devastated when Lucy dies in mysterious circumstances, and struggles to support Ian and his family. Whilst grieving, Jane and Ian sleep together, but whilst Ian hopes that they will reunite, Jane immediately regrets her actions. She makes it clear to Ian that them sleeping together was a mistake, leading to him taking his anger out on Bobby. After witnessing this, Jane decides to take Bobby away for a while, so that Ian can grieve properly. She admits to Shabnam what her and Ian did, before leaving Walford. The following day, Jane breaks up with Masood over the phone, and he is heartbroken to learn of her betrayal. Several weeks later, Lucy's body is released for the funeral and Ian, who is feeling alone in his grief, comes to Birmingham to try and find Jane at her brother Christian's. Christian tells him she is not there and he leaves. Jane then reveals herself and tells him that she cannot go to the funeral; however, although late, Jane does eventually appear for the event and supports Ian through his grief. Afterwards, she apologizes to Masood for cheating on him, before returning with Christian and Bobby to Birmingham.
Jane also makes cameo appearances in the Internet spin-off series EastEnders: E20. In episode 2 of series 1, Jane is working in the café where Fatboy (Ricky Norwood) attempts to chat her up. In episode 3 of series 2, she is seen briefly talking to a girl outside the café and in episode 8 she confronts Asher Levi (Heshima Thompson) about some trainers he sold to Peter. He says he does not give refunds so she snatches his wallet and takes some money out but he snatches it back. Jane tells two police offices that Asher is a thief and they chase after him. In episode 10, Asher says he will refund Jane and when his brother Sol Levi (Tosin Cole) needs him, she lets him go.
Creation and development
Brett joined the cast of EastEnders in 2004 and was asked to dye her hair red and keep it short for the part. She also put on an English accent to disguise her natural Scottish accent. Brett described Jane as "warm, kind, caring and nurturing but she's not somebody that will be pushed around. She is quite feisty. She's a matriarch. Not as a dominant woman but she's definitely in a matriarch, she's the centre of a family in the making for EastEnders."
In 2006, Jane has an affair with Grant Mitchell, played by Ross Kemp. The scenes began after writers saw chemistry between Kemp and Brett. Brett considered the storyline to be a turning point for the character as "All I did for the last year was say: 'What can I get you?' in the café." Jane was given a sexier look after a new producer came in and asked Brett to grow her hair and bleach out the red dye.
Jane marries Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt), after co-habiting for around two years. Brett described Jane as "the straight man to Ian's buffoon. She's the other half who makes him whole." Speaking on the character's relationship with her husband, she likened herself to his mother, Kathy (Gillian Taylforth), stating: "if Jane doesn't work out for Ian, no one will! Perhaps because Ian is finally married to his mother. Jane is very Kathy-esque. They'd have got on really well, though I can't imagine Kathy would've been too impressed with Jane's affair with Grant – despite the fact she got through a few Mitchells herself!" She stated that she hoped Jane and Ian's marriage would be a lasting one, commenting that so far: "it's panned out brilliantly. There are millions of marriages like this one, involving a strong woman behind an incredibly weak man. But it's Ian's flaws that make everyone love him so much. The only time a character becomes boring is when they're two dimensional, and that's something you could never say about Ian. I can't imagine being anyone else's missus!"
On the Beale family as a whole, Brett commented: "we're probably the most normal family in Albert Square. The Beales are like the Trotters from Only Fools and Horses in many ways. They're salt-of-the-earth people who are trying to better themselves, so there's plenty of scope for drama and comedy. The writers certainly haven't run out of ideas for us yet - I haven't stopped working on big stories since I joined the show!"
Jane returned to EastEnders in the 6 and 7 January 2014 episodes. Brett's return to filming was not announced by the show's producers so that viewers would be surprised. Brett found it easy to keep her return a secret, but said that the EastEnders press office and executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins probably found it more difficult. Brett said that she was "absolutely thrilled" with the reaction that she received, after the episode was broadcast, opining that it proved that Jane is a popular character. The character returned for a longer stint between late February and early May, before making another long departure, and it has since been confirmed Brett will return full-time as Jane from September.
|This section requires expansion. (May 2010)|
In a review of the first decade of the 21st century in soaps, Ruth Deller of lowculture.co.uk wrote that Jane was "one of the best new characters in soap this decade; really believable, sensitive, [and] sensible, [...] she gives EastEnders a bit of heart, which is rare indeed." Deller also expressed her belief that Jane transformed the Beale family into one of the strongest families of the late 2000s, further stating: "A genuinely nice character whom you could imagine being your mate, once they got that nonsense with Grant out of the way, she's been a real asset to the soap." Kevin O'Sullivan of the Sunday Mirror said that Jane was an EastEnders veteran who had a "seismic departure" as she "checked out of soapland's asylum in characteristically crazy style". When Jane departed she said "from now on I can be whoever I want" - in response O'Sullivan quipped "but you'll always be the loser who married Ian Beale". Virgin Media called 2009 the "Good year" for Jane because she left her ex-husband Ian, "the most boring and selfish man in Walford."
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- O'Sullivan, Kevin (29 January 2012). "From barmy to balmier". Sunday Mirror (Trinity Mirror). p. 27.
- "Good year, bad year — Good year: Jane Beale." Virgin Media. Retrieved 27 March 2012.