In a desperate bid to keep girlfriend Lauren in Walford, Steven has lied and said that he’s dying of cancer. Tonight’s episode of EastEnders saw the duplicitous Mr Beale tell the enormous fib in the hope that Lauren would not flee to New Zealand with Louie. But will Steven now come to regret his rash actions?
“He’s acting out of fear and sheer desperation. And the brain tumour is just something he thought of on the spot,” actor Aaron Sidwell says to RadioTimes.com. “The minute the words come out of his mouth, he wants to take them back. But it’s not possible because what he’s said is so big. The situation is beyond him now – he’s a very lost soul and completely out of control.”
Steven’s outburst came at the climax of a tumultuous couple of weeks for the character, who has opted to track Lauren’s movements after growing suspicious of her growing closeness to boss Josh. But what he hadn’t reckoned on was Lauren having a secret abortion, a course of action that resulted in Steven finding solace in the arms of Abi.
So how does Sidwell feel about Steven’s actions – does he think that viewers should have sympathy for him? “The way Steven feels is very natural. I think there’s the feeling in all of us that if we feel someone we love pulling away, then our instinct is to hold on tighter. But someone with more of a control on themselves wouldn’t go to the lengths that Steven has gone to. He’s a very difficult and dangerous person. You just don’t know what his cut-off point would be.”
And he is – lest we forget – someone who has been raised by Ian Beale, a man not above a spot of duplicity himself when it comes to saving his relationships. “Ian went to extreme lengths with all the women in his life,” agrees the actor. “And Steven has been very much nurtured by Ian. And what we’re seeing with Steven’s story are a lot of parallels with Ian – he also raised a son who was his half brother’s and with a woman who didn’t want to be with him. And then there was the Mel story, which saw Ian lie and tell her that Lucy had leukaemia. So Steven is very much his father’s son.”
No doubt the plotline will take many twists and turns in the months ahead, but if we were to guess, we’d predict that a curveball could come in the form of Abi, who we’re thinking could get pregnant by Steven thanks to their recent illicit encounters. Does Sidwell agree that this would make for a neat cliffhanger? “Yes, it would create endless storylines. I have no idea whether it’ll happen or not, but it would be a great story.”
And then there would be the shock development of Steven actually getting a brain tumour for real. Soap writers love to pull the rug out from under characters and viewers, so might this be a possibility too? “Well, that’s more of a ‘careful what you wish for’ scenario’,” he laughs.
Of course, the one person missing in this messy relationship drama is Peter, the father of Louie and perhaps someone for whom Lauren still has feelings. We’ve already seen her confess to needing to sort out her emotions where Peter is concerned, but with actor Ben Hardy currently making a name for himself in Hollywood, might we need another soap head swap so that this particular plotline can be played out?
In reply to our hypothetical question about Peter making a comeback, Sidwell has this to say: “I don’t feel that there’s a need for Peter in this particular story. We have our major players and what’s interesting is seeing the Beales and the Brannings so intertwined, when they should be a million miles away from each other.
“But there’s certainly a great character in Peter waiting to come back into the show. It isn’t my job to say who it would be, but whichever actor steps into that role will have to take that responsibility on and carry it forward.”
And were Peter to come back, it would surely only add to Steven’s state of paranoia? “Yes, well you have these two brothers who don’t care for each other. And now, Lucy is no longer there to act as a mediator. So there would certainly be a tug of war for Ian’s affections. But the way things stand at the moment, I think Ian would side with Steven. After all, he’s taken on the role of looking after Louie, just like Ian once did with Steven The narcissistic side of Ian would definitely love that!”
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