EastEnders’ Peter Beale actor Thomas Law: ‘I’m back in the Square – 13 years since quitting’

Peter Beale has been played by a stream of stars over the years – seven to be exact. But never before has an actor reprised their role as the famous Walford resident – until now. Thomas Law, 30, is back in EastEnders picking up the character he left behind 13 years ago.

After Thomas’ exit in 2010, Peter was played by Ben Hardy and Dayle Hudson. And Thomas admits he wasn’t able to watch the show knowing his character was being played by someone else.

“It’s like seeing your ex with a more muscular, taller, more handsome version of yourself,” he laughs. “But those boys must have felt the same, too. I’ve spoken to both of them about being recast and they’ve both sent their best wishes.”

Thomas was the fifth actor to take over the role in 2006 and left four years later to pursue other acting avenues. He starred in The World’s End, A Cinderella Story and more recently played DC Eddie Martin in ITV series The Bay. But Thomas is happy to be working closer to home again.

“I spent time in Cape Town, then I was in Los Angeles for three years on and off,” he says. “But now I’m back filming under half an hour away from where I live – it’s too good to be true. I see my family pretty much every day. We’ve had a nightmare with losses in the family and cancer has caught a couple of us. It’s one thing after another. We’ve always been close, but we’re even closer now.”

Thomas and his family don’t just see each other every day at home. His mum and sister also work at EastEnders – and played a part in bringing him back to Albert Square.

“My mum’s a chaperone here, and she introduced herself to Chris Clenshaw (executive producer) at one of the EastEnders parties,” says Thomas. “She obviously mentioned that I’m her son, and I think Chris got very excited by that. In the same week, he’d spoken to Adam (Woodyatt, who plays Ian) who called me and was like, ‘Fancy getting the band back together?’

“Then I had to keep it very secret, but my mum and sister worked it out. They heard rumblings from work before I even got a chance to tell them. Then when they asked me, I couldn’t keep a straight face. I mean, your mum always knows when you’re lying, doesn’t she?”

Peter Beale’s return was implied in June, along with his parents, Ian and the long believed dead Cindy Beale. While Ian and Cindy remain in France, Peter returns to Walford desperate to meet Anna and Gina.

“Everything shifts when Peter finds out he has two half-sisters,” says Thomas. “He had one sister, Lucy, and lost her. Now he’s found out he has two more, he’ll do anything to have a relationship with them."

"But Ian wants Peter to have nothing to do with them because it means Cindy will get back with her ex-partner George [played by Colin Salmon]. So it’s a nightmare. One minute, Peter is the happiest he’s been, and the next minute his dad is back to his old ways of trying to keep a massive secret.”

Promising to keep quiet about Cindy still being alive, Peter goes to Walford, eager to meet his new family. “Peter has to go back and just observe, but he gets a little too close,” hints Thomas. “He leads with good intentions, but he has to keep everything quiet. He can’t mention Cindy, he’s not allowed to let her daughters know she’s around, and Peter’s not allowed to let them know he’s their half-brother.

“He’s got an opportunity again to have sisters and care for them and love them. But it could come across needy and not knowing who Peter really is, they’re like, ‘Who the hell is this freak?’”

Rejoining EastEnders means that Thomas’ character Eddie won’t be returning to The Bay – a role he loved. However, it seems like playing Peter again is something Thomas always wanted to happen.

“I love those guys at The Bay . I’ve got a photo up in my room at EastEnders to remind me of how cool they are,” says Thomas. “But it means the world to be back and we’re trying to get Jacqueline [Jossa, who played Lauren] back into the show, too.

"There have been quite a few people outside the studio here and they’re very kind to me. I stop and say hello to them and they’re all so nice. It’s a real treat to be here. I still can’t believe it’s happening.”

Catch EastEnders Mon-Thurs, 7.30pm, BBC One

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