Ben Hardy as Peter Beale (2013)
|Portrayed by||Francis Brittin-Snell (1993–96)
Alex Stevens (1997–98)
Joseph Shade (1998–2004)
James Martin (2004–06)
Thomas Law (2006–10)
Ben Hardy (2013–15)
|First appearance||16 December 1993|
|Introduced by||Leonard Lewis (1993)
Jane Harris (1997)
Lorraine Newman (2013)
|Classification||Present; regular (departing)|
Peter Beale is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders who has been played by six actors since being introduced in 1993. Francis Brittin-Snell portrayed the role from 1993 to 1996, followed by Alex Stevens from 1997 to 1998 and Joseph Shade from 1998 to 2004. James Martin took over and played the role from 2004 to 2006. He was played by Thomas Law from 2006 until 2010 when the character departed the series. On 19 April 2013, it was announced that Peter would return, this time played by Ben Hardy who made his first appearance on 7 June 2013. On 19 November 2014, it was confirmed that Hardy would be leaving the soap at the end of his contract.
Peter and his twin sister Lucy (Eva Brittin-Snell) are born to Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) and Cindy Beale (Michelle Collins) on 9 December 1993. He is named after his paternal grandfather, Pete Beale (Peter Dean), who dies on the day of his birth. Peter is brought up by both his parents until 1996, when Cindy absconds with him and his half brother Steven (Stuart Stevens) following her failed attempt to have Ian killed by a hitman. Peter is taken to Italy, where Ian finds him in 1997 and takes him home without Cindy's consent. Cindy is given custody of all three children in 1998, but she is arrested directly after the court case for the attempted murder of Ian. She dies during childbirth in prison, but her baby, Cindy Williams, survives and is given to Cindy's sister Gina Williams (Nicola Cowper). Peter then grows up with various women acting as his stepmother, one of whom, Laura Beale (Hannah Waterman), provides Peter with another half brother, Bobby Beale (Kevin Curran), in 2003. Peter is injured in a fair ground collapse in 2004 but is saved from the wreckage by Den Watts (Leslie Grantham) and Dennis Rickman (Nigel Harman). Ian meets his fourth wife, Jane Collins (Laurie Brett), at this fair.
In May 2007, Ian and Peter go camping with Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) and his son Ben Mitchell (Charlie Jones). On the drive home, Phil swerves the car to avoid a fallen tree; the car flips, crashes and rolls into a lake with Ben and Peter still inside. Ben is conscious however Peter is knocked out in the crash. As the car sinks and fills with water, Phil goes to rescue the boys; however, Peter's foot gets caught on a seatbelt, he passes out and nearly drowns, but is saved by CPR from Phil. A budding athlete, Peter's PE teacher tells Ian that Peter could compete in the 2012 Olympics. Keen for Peter to succeed in this, Ian begins to pressurise Peter to train hard, and is unhappy when Peter becomes distracted by his girlfriend Lauren Branning (Madeline Duggan), who Peter begins dating in December 2007. Lauren's father Max Branning (Jake Wood) is equally displeased, especially when he catches Peter and Lauren playing truant and drinking alcohol.
Peter ends his relationship with Lauren in October 2008 after Max orders him to. When Max sees Lauren and Peter together in the café, Peter tries to stand up to him, but in his anger Max grabs Peter and throttles him. Peter subsequently reveals to Lauren that her dad was behind their breakup, leading Lauren to attempt to kill Max. Peter later gives his evidence in court. He states that when Lauren left his house, she was upset and angry. When Lauren returns home (after the jury decide that she is not guilty for attempting to murder her father), Peter settles his differences with Max and declares his love for Lauren. Peter tries to look impressive by lying that he and Lauren have had sex in the allotments. Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick) and Lucy quickly spread this rumor around school and Lauren breaks up with Peter. Max is furious to find out that Peter has said these things about Lauren and attempts to punch Peter. Peter and Lauren reconcile and Lauren tells Peter she is ready to have sex. However, Lauren's mother, Tanya Branning (Jo Joyner), finds the condoms Peter and Lauren are using for sex and Lauren's older brother Bradley Branning (Charlie Clements) overhears Peter talking about it. The next day, Lauren and Peter try to see each other without Max finding out, but fail to hide it. Peter tells Max that he loves Lauren and Max finally accepts it.
At a party, Peter meets Zsa Zsa Carter (Emer Kenny) and they end up kissing, which Lauren sees. Lauren slaps Peter, and also slaps Zsa Zsa, and they subsequently fight. After the party, Peter walks Zsa Zsa to her bus stop and wonders if he will see her again. She kisses him passionately, and says "maybe". Peter discovers Leon Small (Sam Attwater) slept with Lucy (Melissa Suffield) at the same time he was seeing Zsa Zsa, which leads to a violent confrontation where Peter's nose is bloodied. Leon tells Lucy off for Peter's intervention, and at Ian's birthday dinner Lucy flies into a rage and attacks Peter. Later, Peter discovers Lucy's abortion clinic letter and they have a heartfelt talk where Peter assures Lucy he is behind her, to which she responds positively. However, he does not support Lucy's decision to let Jane and Ian raise the baby, and later discovers that Lucy has lost the baby. He begins sending anonymous gifts to Zsa Zsa, but is discovered when Leon and his friend Fatboy (Ricky Norwood) try to find out who is sending them. Lucy plans to break up Leon and Zsa Zsa by exposing his affair, so tells Zsa Zsa about the baby. Zsa Zsa is disgusted and during a confrontation Leon announces that Lucy had an abortion, not a miscarriage. Peter is disgusted as he knows how much Jane wants a baby, he is shocked further when he discovers Ian knew.
Peter is annoyed when his father assumes Lucy will get better GCSE grades than him, and that Lucy did not put in any effort. Peter and Lucy both receive good grades, though Lucy's are exceptionally better. As the family celebrate, they are interrupted by the headteacher Mr Allcock (Bill Buckhurst) who says Lucy's results are inconsistent and there has been an allegation of cheating, and that the exam board will have to look at both Lucy and Peter's exam papers. However, Lucy admits to cheating and gets Peter out of trouble. When Jane realises that Lucy may have had an abortion, Peter confirms this. Lucy decides to move to Devon to avoid spending another year studying, while Jane secretly plans to leave Ian. At Billie Jackson's (Devon Anderson) birthday party, Peter offers to get Lauren (Jacqueline Jossa) a drink but she is not interested. Peter ends up kissing Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty). Whitney stays the night but later regrets it after Billie is found dead, as she believes she could have saved him if she had stayed at home. However, the fact that he slept with Whitney puts Peter in a very upbeat mood. Whitney later goes to Peter for comfort, and the couple begin a relationship. Peter quickly develops strong feelings for Whitney, and plans to ask her to marry him. However Jane persuades him to wait until Valentine's Day, explaining that Whitney might feel it's too soon.
At Peter's birthday party, Ian insults Whitney, calling her "a walking STD." This causes Peter to storm out. Peter is then left devastated when Whitney breaks up with him. He gets drunk without anyone knowing until he vomits on Glenda Mitchell (Glynis Barber). Jane is supportive and understanding towards Peter, but Ian is resentful which Peter says makes him sick. Peter then discovers Ian and Glenda's affair and he warns Glenda to keep her distance, which makes her believe that he was the person who pushed her down the stairs in her flat. Upset with Ian, Peter throws a brick through his chip shop window. Glenda tells Ian that Peter practically confessed to pushing her, and when Phil confronts Ben (Joshua Pascoe) at a family gathering, Ian does not defend Peter. Later, Ian begs for forgiveness, saying he will tell Jane about the affair, but Peter just walks off. He packs a bag and leaves a card for Jane saying "I'm sorry". Unknown to everyone, the attacker is Ben. He then goes to stay with Lucy in Devon. Ian later receives news that Peter and Lucy have been involved in a car crash and takes Bobby (Alex Francis) to visit them. On her return, Lucy (Hetti Bywater) reveals that she fell out with Peter as he dated her friend, Leanne, in Devon.
Peter returns to Walford after Ian invites him to the opening of his new restaurant, Beale's. He learns that Ian's businesses were transferred to Lucy, in a time when Ian was struggling with a breakdown while Peter was in Devon, and he wants her to sign them back to him. Peter refuses to side with either of them, and when Ian tricks Lucy into signing everything back to him, Peter confronts Ian but forgives him. Peter is shocked when his half-sister Cindy Williams (Mimi Keene) arrives, and wants her to go back to Devon because she knows a secret from his time away he is eager to keep quiet, but she ends up staying with the Beales. Peter later tells Lola Pearce (Danielle Harold) that his friend Gaz died while they were out swimming as a result of Peter pushing him to out further to sea. Peter did not tell Gaz's family the details of what happened, and this angers Lola, but they later enter a relationship when she forgives him. Ian reveals to a shocked Peter that he is lying about witnessing Max Branning tampering with the car that injured Carl White (Daniel Coonan) and Phil Mitchell, and Carl is blackmailing him to testify against Max and keep him locked up. For the sake of Lauren, who is now a recovering alcoholic, Peter tries to get Ian to tell the truth, and turns against Carl afterwards, resulting in a beating. Ian is stopped from testifying at the last minute when he is kidnapped by Phil and Max, who have discovered the truth. When Peter and Lola go public with their relationship, Phil and Ian reluctantly accept it, and Peter moves in with Lola and her grandfather, Billy Mitchell (Perry Fenwick), near to the Beale house. In April 2014, Ian makes the discovery that Lucy has been taking cocaine and, in an attempt to reach out to her, tells her that she is his favourite, but Peter overhears and storms off upset. The same night, Lucy turns up dead, devastating Peter and Ian, who begin a search for the truth.
Peter becomes reliant on Lauren for support, as she was Lucy's best friend and also her new business partner in a letting agency. His need for support from her increases when Jane and Bobby leave for Birmingham and Cindy returns to live with her aunt in Devon. A rift forms between him and Lola over his reliance on Lauren over her and they break up when Peter realises he is in love with Lauren and Lola is responsible for the publication of a well-wished article about Lucy which paints her as a rebellious teenager. Lauren rejects his advances as she has recently started a relationship with Dean Wicks (Matt Di Angelo), but realises she is still in love with him when he heroically enters a fire to save Kat Moon (Jessie Wallace). Peter plans to leave Walford to live with Steven, but Lauren stops him and they declare their love for each other. They are unnerved to realise they are been followed, but are told by Max's new girlfriend D.C. Emma Summerhayes (Anna Acton) that it is just a reporter. Peter then leaves for a holiday with Steven in New Zealand. When he returns, he proposes to Lauren with the help of a returned Cindy, and she accepts, but calls off the engagement almost immediately afterwards when Ian reveals that Peter was Lucy's cocaine dealer. Peter explains that he simply handled the drugs so Lucy would not come into contact with any dangerous drug dealers, and she had been addicted since they were in Devon together several years ago with the addiction becoming stronger when Ian had his breakdown. Despite knowing this, Ian disowns Peter, although Jane later convinces him to let Peter move back in.
Casting and development
Peter was introduced in 1993 along with his twin sister Lucy, and was originally played by Francis Brittin-Snell as a baby and toddler from 1993 to 1996. In 1997, the role was given to Alex Stevens and he played Peter until 1998. Joseph Shade took over until 2004 and James Martin played him from 2004 until 2006. It was announced on 17 August 2006 that actor Thomas Law had been cast as Peter. Law said of the role: "I couldn't believe it when I heard that I got the part, I'm really excited as I am a big fan of EastEnders." He made his first appearance on 31 August 2006. He is described on the EastEnders website as being laid back, and Ian's "golden boy".
In 2007, Peter was part of a storyline which saw he and his father, as well as Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) and Ben Mitchell (Charlie Jones), involved in a car accident, when the Range Rover they were travelling in crashed into a lake. The scenes cost £1 million to produce, and external scenes were filmed in Surrey over four days, with underwater scenes being filmed in a specially designed stunt tank. The scenes aired on 18 May 2007. It was not known to viewers if Peter would survive at the time. Law praised the scenes, calling them "fantastic".
In November 2010, it was reported that Peter would leave EastEnders at the end of the year, with a possible, yet unconfirmed, return for 2011. In storylines, Peter is accused of pushing Glenda Mitchell down her stairs. Law felt that Peter would not be strong enough to do it and it would not be in his character, though he feels backed into a corner. Peter made his final appearance on 24 December 2010. When asked if he could return, Law said, "I don't know. They're leaving the door open. That's all I can tell you."
On 19 April 2013, it was reported that Peter was to return to the series, played by Ben Hardy. He said of his casting: "I'm really excited to be joining the fantastic cast of EastEnders—a show which my family have watched for years. I can't wait to step into the shoes of a character with so much history and am looking forward to getting stuck in." Executive producer Lorraine Newman said, "Ben's a wonderful addition to the EastEnders cast and I am sure he will be popular with the audience. Having Peter back in the Beale fold helps cement the next generation of the Beale clan, a family who exist at the true heart of the show. Ian's wonderful relationship with Denise and the inclusion of Lucy, Peter and Bobby in the household will reinvigorate the clan with vibrancy and energy. I am really looking forward to seeing them all together on screen."
In May 2009, Executive producer Diederick Santer praised the younger cast of EastEnders, including Law. Stuart Heritage from The Guardian expressed a dislike for Peter in April 2010, saying he should be written out, "before his increasingly spectacular haircut goes power mad and starts to colonise the entire set. Also, his voice has been breaking for what seems like seven full years, so he could probably use his new-found free time to consult a doctor or something."
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