The sexual tension between EastEnders‘ Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) and Callum Highway (Tony Clay) exploded into a lusty late-night hook-up on Thursday 6th June as the boys kissed passionately and fell into each other’s arms.
Fans had predicted romance for the fellas after Ben guessed Callum was gay but hiding firmly in the closet during a charged moment of physical intimacy in an argument last week.
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Ben spent most of this week goading the ex-soldier in front of girlfriend Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty) but a genuine bond started to develop as Mr Mitchell let his guard down and opened up about losing murdered lover Paul Coker.
By the end of tonight’s double episode (football pushes EastEnders out of the schedules on Friday 7th June) a series of cosy chats and charged looks led to Callum sneaking off to meet Ben under cover of night. Finally confessing his repressed feelings of loneliness and confusion, an emotional Callum gave into his forbidden attraction and he Ben got it on…
RadioTimes.com spoke to Tony Clay about the surprise twist for Callum – could him and Ben be Walford’s most intriguing new couple?
How long have you known Callum’s secret sexuality was going to be explored?
A few months. I had a meeting with (BBC Head of Continuing Drama) Kate Oates to talk about where the character was at the time – he was kind of on the fringes, having a little bit of an impact but nothing too exciting yet. She saw an avenue and was quite invested in exploring the sexuality aspect, I thought it was a great thing to be a part of and knew it would be a really exciting storyline people would hopefully get behind.
Has Callum been hiding this all along?
When you look back it makes sense. Since he came in he’s hidden his injury, what really happened in the army, his virginity and all that sort of stuff. His awkwardness, it all makes sense, you see now why he struggles with who he is. Issues from the past can take their toll on someone.
Is this the start of a full-on affair for Callum and Ben?
You’ll have to wait and see! Lots will happen in the next few weeks. The kiss is a real moment for both characters, but afterwards there is an instant feeling of guilt and shame from Callum about what he’s done to Whitney. He still loves her, that doesn’t just disappear – the feeling of joy and ecstasy of the kiss is wonderful, but it also means he has hurt someone he loves. That eats away at him and you’ll see it unravel.
Do him and Ben make a good match?
The reason there is this spark between them is the fact they’ve both come from troubled backgrounds, and both had issues with their dads when they were growing up.
Callum and Stuart’s dad will be appearing soon, what can you tell us about him?
Not a lot, unfortunately! Richard Graham who plays him is amazing. You will see the root of the brothers’ problems. It’s really exciting, I wish I could say more! It definitely taps into this latest development of Callum’s character.
What pushes Callum to propose to Whitney next week?
He’s been raised to think this is what you do – meet a girl, settle down, get married, the expectation is on him. But actually there’s a whole world out there Callum wants to be a part of. He wants to feel comfortable about himself. He adores Whitney but he has to be true to himself now. Everything unravels with the proposal and what comes after. So proposing is not a solution to his problems, it’s just adding to them!
Will there be a wedding?
We’ve got to wait and see whether they get to that point, we don’t know yet. There are many different paths the storyline can take, that is what’s exciting for the viewers. It keeps them, and us actors, on our toes!
Can Callum confide in anyone about his big secret?
Obviously his brother Stuart is there, although things are strained at the moment, but there is a time for reconciliation and to get things back on track. It would be a big revelation for Stuart to hear. Callum is close to Tina, and of course Mick and Linda have a son, Jonny, who came out so they’d have an understanding of what he’s going through. I hope he does get his moment to tell people and be honest, it would be good to show him confiding in someone.
Can Ben be trusted to keep quiet?
Initially he taunted him but people can change, particularly through their connections to others. Once somebody sorts out their issues, they can start to breathe a little more. Whether Ben can be fully trusted, or if Callum could change Ben for the better, who knows if it gets that far? Ben has many issues and is working through them, maybe not in the right way. The brilliance of that character is he’s on a constant edge, even when he lets his guard down there’s always something else going on.
Are the feelings between them genuine?
There’s a connection there and a lust. They have walked similar paths, that is what draws them to each other, it’s not just a hook-up on an app and they have a real spark. They are kindred spirits and on each other’s wavelength – for now!
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