Ben Hardy as Peter Beale (2013)
|First appearance||Episode 926
16 December 1993
|Last appearance||Episode 5022
24 February 2015
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. Hardy announced his departure from the role on 19 November 2014, making his final on screen appearance on 24 February 2015.
Peter lives with his family until 1996, when Cindy runs away with him and his half brother Steven (Stuart Stevens), fearing she will be arrested for attempting to murder Ian. Ian eventually finds them in Italy and takes him and Steven home, assisted by Phil (Steve McFadden) and Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp). Cindy follows and wins custody but is arrested for attempted murder and is remanded in custody, so the children stay with Ian. It is later revealed that Cindy is pregnant but dies of complications following childbirth. Ian is informed as he is Cindy's next of kin but he allows Cindy's sister, Gina Williams (Nicola Cowper) to raise the baby girl who she names Cindy after her mother. Peter has an unsettled childhood with several stepmothers and a 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 and his son, Ben Mitchell (Charlie Jones). On the drive home, there is an accident and Ben and Peter are trapped in the car. Ben is conscious but Peter is knocked unconscious. Fortunately the boys are rescued by Phil.
A budding athlete, Peter's PE teacher tells Ian that Peter could compete in the 2012 Olympics. Keen for Peter to succeed, Ian begins putting pressure on him to train hard and is unhappy when Peter is distracted by his girlfriend, Lauren Branning (Madeline Duggan), who Peter begins dating in December 2007. Lauren's father, Max Branning (Jake Wood), is also unhappy, especially when he catches Peter and Lauren playing truant and drinking alcohol and Max orders Peter to end the relationship in October 2008 but Peter tries standing up to him. Max angrily grabs Peter and throttles him so Peter tells Lauren that her dad was behind their breakup, making Lauren so angry that she tries to run Max over. Peter later gave evidence in court, stating that when Lauren left his house, she was upset and angry. When Lauren returns home (after being found not guilty of 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 rumour at school and Lauren dumps Peter. Max is furious about what Peter has said and tries to punch him. 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 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 in secret but fail. 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 Zsa Zsa, causing an argument. 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) while he was seeing Zsa Zsa, causing a violent confrontation. Leon tells Lucy off for Peter's intervention and at Ian's birthday dinner, Lucy angrily attacks Peter. Later, Peter finds Lucy's letter from the abortion clinic and Peter assures Lucy he is behind her but does not support Lucy's decision to let Jane and Ian raise the baby and later learns that Lucy has miscarried. He begins sending anonymous gifts to Zsa Zsa but is caught out by Leon and his friend Fatboy (Ricky Norwood). Lucy plans to break up Leon and Zsa Zsa by exposing his affair and tells Zsa Zsa about the baby. Zsa Zsa is disgusted and during a confrontation, Leon announces that Lucy had an abortion. 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 try. Peter and Lucy both get good grades, though Lucy's are exceptionally better. As the family celebrate, they are interrupted by Mr Allcock (Bill Buckhurst) who says Lucy's results are inconsistent and there has been an allegation of cheating, meaning the exam board will have to look at Lucy and Peter's exam papers. However, Lucy admits 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 when Billie is found dead, believing that 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 start dating. Peter soon 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", making Peter storm out and is devastated when Whitney dumps him. He gets drunk and vomits on Glenda Mitchell (Glynis Barber). Jane is supportive and understanding but Ian is resentful, which Peter says, makes him sick. Peter learns that Ian and Glenda are having an affair and he warns Glenda to keep her distance, making her think that he 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 admitted pushing her and Phil confronts Peter at a family gathering, Ian does not defend Peter, although no one knows that Ben Mitchell is actually responsible. Later, Ian begs for forgiveness, saying he will tell Jane about the affair but Peter just walks away. Disgusted, he packs a bag and leaves a card for Jane saying "I'm sorry" before joining 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 when Ian invites him to the opening of his new restaurant, Beale's. He learns that Lucy took control of Ian's businesses when Ian had a breakdown. Now he is recovering, Ian wants his businesses back and Peter stays neutral. 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 home because she knows a secret of his that he is eager to keep quiet, but she stays with the Beales. Peter later tells Lola Pearce (Danielle Harold) that his friend Gaz died while they were swimming as a result of Peter pushing him to go further out to sea. Peter did not tell Gaz's family the details of what happened and this angers Lola, but they later start dating when she forgives him. Ian tells Peter that he is lying about witnessing Max Branning (Jake Wood) 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 Lauren's sake, who is now a recovering alcoholic, Peter tries to get Ian to tell the truth and turns against Carl, resulting in a beating. Ian is stopped from testifying when he is kidnapped by Phil and Max, who have learned 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). 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 is found dead, devastating Peter and Ian, who begin searching for the truth.
Peter becomes reliant on Lauren for support as she was Lucy's best friend and business partner in a letting agency. His need for support from her increases when Jane and Bobby leave for Birmingham and Cindy is sent back to 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-meant article about Lucy that paints her as a rebellious teenager. Lauren rejects his advances as she has recently started dating Dean Wicks (Matt Di Angelo), but realises she is still in love with him when he heroically rescues Kat Moon (Jessie Wallace) from a fire. 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 being 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 Cindy's help (who has returned from Devon) and she accepts, but calls off the engagement almost immediately 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 became addicted since they were staying in Devon several years ago with the addiction becoming stronger when Ian had his breakdown. Despite knowing this, Ian disowns Peter although Jane convinces him to let Peter move back in. In February 2015, Peter finds out that Lauren is pregnant with his child. When he offers to support her, she tells him that Lucy was murdered at home, leaving Peter thinking that either Ian or Jane killed Lucy. When the whole family learns that Bobby is the real killer, despite Jane trying to cover for him as she convinced him that he didn't, they try to tell him what he did. When Peter sees that the rest of the family now do not want Bobby to know, he gets angry and leaves the house in a rage, sleeping on a park bench all night. After realising that he cannot live with this secret, Peter announces he is moving to New Zealand to live with Steven and invites Lauren to join him. At first she rejects him as she is going to live with her mum in Devon, but comes around soon after. Whilst stood in the middle of the market, Peter buys a baby-grow, revealing Lauren kept the baby, and they both leave the Square together.
Seven months later, a heavily pregnant Lauren returns to Walford, and whilst there, gives birth to her and Peter's son, Louie, named in honour of Peter's deceased great-grandmother, Lou Beale (Anna Wing). She and Louie later go back to New Zealand to be with Peter. In May 2016, Ian's mother Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) contacts Lauren and informs her that Bobby (Eliot Carrington) has brutally attacked Jane, leaving her in a coma. Ian is shocked when Lauren and Louie then return to Walford, with Steven instead of Peter. Lauren reveals that her relationship with Peter ended due to Bobby's secret and she is now with Steven. Later that year, Steven steals equipment, supplies and money from Ian's restaurant. Jane and later Lauren find out about it and Steven admits that he did it to help Peter, who has been getting into debt, drinking heavily and getting into fights since his breakup with Lauren.
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 him 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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