Charles and Camilla to star in EastEnders Jubilee episode
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Ben Mitchell (played by Max Bowden) is at the centre of a horrific sexual assault storyline after being raped by bartender Lewis Butler (Aidan O’Callaghan) in Monday’s episode. EastEnders viewers were left in tears at the harrowing scenes and took to social media to brand the scene “hard to watch”.
The BBC soap confirmed last month it would be working with charities including Survivors UK, Survivors Manchester and the Male Survivors Partnership for the storyline.
EastEnders viewers have watched Lewis befriend Ben in recent weeks.
The bartender had driven a wedge between Ben and Callum Highway (Tony Clay) with the Mitchell bad boy confiding in Lewis over his husband.
In Monday’s episode, Lewis and Ben headed upstairs in the Prince Albert and one thing starts to lead to another.
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However, after receiving a selfie from Callum and Lexi Pearce (Isabella Brown), Ben changes his mind.
Ben told Lewis: “I think we should stop,” before adding: “I said no,’ but the bartender ignored Ben and raped him.
EastEnders viewers took to Twitter to comment on the powerful storyline.
@lauren78x tweeted: “That was horrific to watch! Poor Ben #EastEnders.”
@carriet1234 added: “Omfg poor Ben @bbceastenders credit to @MaxBowden Well acting #EastEnders.”
“I’m dumbstruck. Well done everyone involved in that. Horrible. Stark. Heartbreaking. #EastEnders,” @ColdMotherWall said.
@LouiseMacAllis2 wrote: “Nothing can ever really prepare you for an episode like that.. #Ballum #EastEnders @SurvivorsUK @SurvivorsMcr.”
@ZachsMeena shared: “The way Max delivered that last ‘I said no’ hurt my souls why do I still watch this show when all it does is sadden me #EastEnders.” (sic)
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“Omg Ben I hate Lewis so much #Eastenders,” @deborahmonett wrote alongside crying emojis.
In upcoming scenes, Ben will struggle to process what happened and Callum is left believing his husband cheated on him.
Callum later confronts Lewis who tells him Ben initiated spending the night together by matching with him on a dating app.
Discussing the storyline, Ben star Max said: Alongside some wonderful charities, and some very inspirational survivors of male sexual assault in the UK, I think we’ve been able to really strive to tell the most truthful account we can, and I hope we can raise awareness and understanding on a topic that is rarely covered.
“I’m honoured to be given this opportunity to tell such an important story.”
BBC’s head of continuing drama Kate Oates added: “Ben has endured a traumatic time after witnessing a homophobic attack on Callum that brought back painful memories of losing Paul.
“As a result, Ben lost his way in life… which is when he found Lewis. Ben finds Lewis attractive, and thinks of him as someone who can understand him in a way Callum does not, but that trust is abused when Lewis crosses a line and rapes Ben.
“Through this story, we hope to explore issues of consent, sexual identity, masculinity and sexual assault, focusing on how this fateful night impacts Ben and those who love him over the coming months.”
You can contect Suvivors UK here for support on men and non-binary people who have been affected by rape or sexual assult. You can speak to a support worker by texting them on 020 3322 1860
EastEnders airs on BBC One from Monday to Thursday at 7.30pm.
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