Blue star Lee Ryan joins EastEnders and reveals: I was nearly a Fowler!

lee ryan
(Image credit: BBC/Jack Barnes)

Lee Ryan, who joins EastEnders next week as bar manager, Woody, reveals he has been approached by the soap twice before…

Blue star Lee Ryan has revealed that landing a role in EastEnders is a case of third time lucky.

The 33-year-old, who makes his debut on Tuesday, April 18 as The Vic’s new bar manager, Woody, said he was approached to star in the soap first when he was in his teens and, again, in 2014, when bosses were recasting the part of Martin Fowler –formerly played by James Alexandrou and now played by James Bye.

Lee said: “EastEnders’ casting director, Julia Crampsie, rang my mum when I was about 16. I’d done Holby City, and she thought I’d be right for EastEnders. My mum said: ‘Oh, he’s just joined a band and is signed to EMI’ – to which Julia replied: ‘If it doesn’t work out, get him to give me a call!’

“I don’t know what the part was, but it was around the time of Jamie Mitchell, so it could’ve been him.”

Lee continued: “Then I went up for the part of Martin, and I auditioned with Lacey Turner (who plays Stacey). They said to me: ‘We really like you and you did a great audition, but we’ve got to give it someone else because it’s not you.’ And now I realise it definitely wasn’t right for me.”

The star, who attended the famous Sylvia Young and Italia Conti stage schools, reveals that, while he is best known as a singer, acting has always been his first love.

"When I was at drama school, I always wanted to do plays, and we did Shakespeare and stuff like that – so I was actually trained in acting."

And, he said that by showcasing his abilities, he hoped to change people’s perceptions of him. "I’ve got a lot of points to prove!" he said. "This is great, because it kind of makes people look at me in a different light."


Alison Slade
Soaps Editor
Alison Slade has over 20 years of experience as a TV journalist and has spent the vast majority of that time as Soap Editor of TV Times magazine.  She is passionate about the ability of soaps to change the world by presenting important, issue-based stories about real people in a relatable way. There are few soap actors that she hasn’t interviewed over the years, and her expertise in the genre means she has been called upon as a judge numerous times for The British Soap Awards and the BAFTA TV Awards.

When she is not writing about soaps, watching soaps, or interviewing people who are in soaps, she loves going to the theatre, taking a long walk or pottering about at home, obsessing over Farrow and Ball paint.