EastEnders actor Harry Reid: “Ben’s a loose cannon and Paul’s death lit the fuse”

Ben’s out for revenge next week in EastEnders but can he be deterred?

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Ben Mitchell is still reeling from the brutal murder of boyfriend Paul Coker but next week in EastEnders he will go looking for their killers. When Louise intervenes and asks Les, Paul’s grandfather, to talk him out of it, it seems as though he will stay. Les even asks Ben to do a reading at the funeral.

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However, peace doesn’t reign for long, and after Jay provides Ben with the address of the killers Louise is flabbergasted when they both leave.

Actor Harry Reid, who portrays Ben, spoke about the troubled times his character has been going through lately – and what lies in store for him.

What did you think when you heard Paul was being killed off?

I was shocked but at the same time I was glad it had such an impact. It sparked conversation. That’s the great thing about soap, we bring up problems and try to take them to the forefront. It was very powerful and I’m grateful to Dom for the storyline.

I was sad, as well. [Jonny Labey] is a terrific actor and we built up a good relationship. Since he’s been there I’ve had the opportunity to play a new, happy side of Ben we had never seen before. We had a month of it and that’s gone now!

Did Ben/Paul have a big following like RobRon?

We started to build a little fanbase and then he died. So now all of the photos are just me looking longingly into the distance!

Ben and Jay have got one. We’ve got several Instagram and Twitter pages about ‘Bay’ or ‘Jen’.

Why does Ben want revenge? Does he feel guilty?

Partly, but the main thing is that he spent his life with a problem matching his feelings with the way the world works. He has always felt, ‘I am a gay man but I can’t show myself to be gay in the public eye’.

He finally bites the bullet and has one moment of real love, holding hands [with Paul] coming out the club, and to have that taken away from him makes him angry with the world. He always believed he couldn’t be out, and in some ways this has proven him right. It’s a very confusing time for him.  He takes it as ‘clearly I can’t be who I am’.

What is driving him? 

Ben is not interested in some long, drawn-out court case. He has had experience with the Old Bill, he knows their work rate and how things will be prioritised, and that it will go on for a long time unless he sorts it out himself.

Plus, he is upset. He has just lost someone he loves to a really vicious hate crime. Ben’s a loose canon and this has lit the fuse.

This week, Jay’s got an address for Ben and Louise tries and fails to stop them both from going. How much can you tell us about this pact between Jay and Ben?

Well, they are brothers and they are very close. They look out for each other. They’re also not afraid to take big steps. There’s friction between Louise and Ben even though there is a blood relation there, whereas Ben and Jay have kind of grown up together.

Jay is in a bad way at the moment [with drugs] and so is Ben, so it’s about them coming together and having a shoulder to lean on. And doing whatever it takes.

You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of EastEnders below. 

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