EastEnders begins a controversial rape plot centred on Ruby Allen tonight (Monday 8 October). The character recently returned following a gap of 12 years, and shortly after her comeback was confirmed it was announced she would be involved in a storyline addressing the issues of sexual violence and consent.
Ruby attends the school reunion of best mate Stacey Fowler’s husband Martin at the E20 club where she hits it off with his old pals from the playground, particularly a guy called Ross. Leaving Ruby behind to party with the boys, Stacey is told in the episode showing on Tuesday 9 October the shocking events of the previous night.
Ruby reveals she went home with Ross and slept with him, but when she woke up his friend Matt was on top of her. Horrified Stacey urges Ruby to report the incident as sexual assault to the police, while Ross and Matt will be seen telling Martin a different version of events in which they insist the encounters with Ruby were consensual. As the week continues, a debate rages as the two sides of the story collide, with Ruby struggling to recall the events of the evening and whether what happened was actually rape.
EastEnders has worked closely with Rape Crisis on the storyline, which aims to end misconceptions surrounding sexual violence. “They have overseen all the scripts,” reveals Louisa Lytton, who has recently reprised the role of Ruby she first played as a teenager. “EastEnders’ research team has been great, and I’ve had someone on hand to ask any questions about Ruby’s reactions and state of mind. You have to do a story like this justice for those who have been through it for real.”
Lytton had no hesitation in taking on the hard-hitting plot, which was outlined to her at the same time she was asked to rejoin the cast. “It’s important to cover topics like this, and I hope it makes people sit back and think about their own experiences. It shouldn’t be taboo.
“The party episode shows Ruby flirting, drinking and having a good time, she is up for something. Stacey and Martin leave her to it, you don’t see anything after that. Then the next episode is the morning after she tells Stacey what happened, cutting between the boys’ point of view. The story is told from two sides and will show how differently we think of sexual experiences and what was right, what was wrong, what should and shouldn’t have happened. The boys tell Martin Ruby was up for it and had sex with two guys, but Ruby only consented to sleeping with one of them.”
Ruby will be plagued by doubt and self-blame in the aftermath of the incident, but will she decide to go to the police? And can Stacey and Martin’s marriage survive as they find themselves on opposing sides of the debate?
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