So, who saw THAT twist coming then? When news broke earlier this year that an innocent person would be arrested for Lucy Beale’s murder, the most logical candidate looked to be Max Branning. Not only was Max involved with Lucy prior to her death, but actor Jake Wood had also announced a one-year break from EastEnders.
Then came last night’s cliffhanger that saw Phil Mitchell answer a knock at the door from his nemesis DCI Jill Marsden. But instead of Phil being put in the frame, it turned out that it was Ben who was now the focus of police inquiries. Hence this evening’s duff-duff, which saw Phil’s boy carted off by the cops following a dash through the Square.
“I don’t think anyone was expecting it to be Ben, despite him being an obvious choice,” actor Harry Reid says to RadioTimes.com. “After all, he’s killed before [Ben did away with Heather Trott back in 2012] and he was involved in the Lucy Beale case. So it’s interesting that he’s been disregarded by the fans when it came to this arrest.”
And when did Reid himself find out that Ben was going to have the handcuffs slapped on him? “When I opened up my script and read it!” he laughs. “We knew the story was going to take lots of twists and turns, but I had no knowledge of what was going to happen. But it’s a really exciting route to be going down.”
Viewers tonight saw the Mitchells try to keep Ben away from the police, only for the investigating officers to catch up with him following a pursuit through the byways of E20. The opportunity to film chase scenes don’t come around all too often on EastEnders, so did Reid relish the opportunity to do something different?
“It was a lot of fun, but really knackering! I didn’t realise how hard it would be actually – I definitely struggled a bit. Having been here for a relatively short amount of time [Reid has been playing Ben since September 2014], it was really interesting to explore all these alleyways that I’d never used before. It opened the set up a lot more for me and hopefully for the viewers too. I hope they’ll now see it as a more life-like place.”
As for the case itself, it’s not looking good for Ben. The tenacious Marsden has already revealed that they have a fresh witness and next week’s episodes will see more details revealed. “There’s a scene with a taxi driver, who identifies Ben. Ben was seen out on that night – when I don’t know, but it’s enough for the police to bring him in.”
And, of course, the big question is whether Marsden’s arrest is an example of good policing or merely part of her long-standing animosity towards the Mitchell family?
“I really want the audience to decide that one for themselves,” continues Reid. “Marsden does have this long-running vendetta against Phil. She will do anything to either put him away or cause him pain by putting someone close to him away. I feel like she’s jumped on a lead really quickly, just so she can get Ben. But, at the same time, she is a good copper and has always played it by the book. What you’ll certainly see is the Mitchells’ lawyer Ritchie Scott turning up to defend Ben, while Phil could also come to the rescue. But you’ll have to wait and see what happens. What I will say is that you’ll get to know more about Ben’s mentality when he’s put in difficult situations.”
Loyal fans already know that young Bobby Beale is, in fact, the real killer of Lucy, as revealed during the show’s 30th anniversary back in February. And while Ben may have stolen from Lucy on the night of her death, he isn’t actually responsible for her demise. But with family ties remaining strong in Walford, could Ben actually end up taking the rap for his nephew’s crime?
“I think Ben would make that sacrifice because family means a lot to him,” admits Reid. “Bobby is a part of Ian and Ben has always loved Ian. So I reckon Ben would definitely want to help if he did find out that Bobby is the guilty one. He’d also quite admire the fact that Ian has grown a pair now that he’s decided Bobby isn’t going to go down for this.”
And, surely, a spot of incarceration isn’t going to be doing much for Ben’s burgeoning romance with Paul Coker? With Ben stuck in an interrogation room, there won’t be the chance of any more funeral parlour bunk-ups…”Well, Paul is ultimately a nanny’s boy. He likes the idea of sleeping with a bad boy, but he’ll want to stay on the outskirts of all this. I think it gives him a bit of a boost to be sleeping with Phil Mitchell’s son, but I reckon he’d step away from it all if it did get too violent!”
As for what we can expect to see as news of Ben’s arrest hits the Square, an insider tonight told RadioTimes.com: “Next week is HUGE and there are so many twists and turns. Jane and Ian need to decide if they can really watch someone innocent go down for Lucy’s murder. It’s going to be an explosive week!”
EastEnders continues on Monday at 8pm on BBC1
Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers