Since EastEnders confirmed the death of a major character as part of the upcoming 35th anniversary storyline, speculation has been rife as to which Walford local will be killed off – and not just among the fans.
“It could be any of us!” insists Max Bowden, aka Ben Mitchell, speaking to RadioTimes.com as the cast film the explosive week of episodes on location that sees drama unfold on board a river boat cruise along the Thames, with fatal consequences. “The great thing about the 35th is that literally everybody in EastEnders is involved. So many stories interlink, our producers Kate Oates and Jon Sen have done that really well and brought everything together to make a real pinnacle moment.”
No one is giving away the identity of the person making their permanent exit, but Bowden echoes Sen’s suggestion hearts will break when the time comes. “It’s going to be a very shocking time, but it will be brilliant telly and we’re having an absolute ball making it.”
That’s in spite of shooting through the night on the Thames in the middle of torrential winter weather… “We are literally in the eye of the storm,” reveals Bowden. “But it is nice to get out of the studio and explore other locations and do different things. For me as an actor, it’s great and personally I’ve enjoyed everything there is to do with it.”
The backdrop to the sensational storyline airing in February sees Mick and Linda Carter invite their locals on the cruise, to celebrate legendary boozer the Queen Victoria winning a local pub of the year competition. As tensions escalate, secrets explode and sins of the past resurface, an unexpected incident occurs onboard which throws the party into chaos.
Front and centre of the action will be the mighty Mitchell family, who are in disarray following the revelation over Christmas that Phil’s wife Sharon is pregnant by stepdaughter Louise’s baby daddy Keanu Taylor, who Ben arranged to be bumped off by Martin Fowler – only he didn’t have the guts so Keanu is still alive and on the run.
Bowden teases how the ripples of the festive season will be sharply felt once the criminal clan hit the water. “A lot of avenues will be explored again during that week. Ben and Sharon will certainly be crossing paths. You can expect a topsy-turvy period of twists and turns.”
EastEnders is on something of a roll following their most compelling Christmas episodes in years, and the buzz around the upcoming milestone can only help Bowden chances at being named Best Newcomer in this year’s National Television Awards, which take place on Tuesday 28th January.
“It’s brilliant,” he beams, reflecting on the nine months since he took over the role of Phil’s tormented heir. “The NTAs are voted for by the fans so it means even more to know they’ve invested in the character, and I’m grateful for their support.
“If I had to single out anyone in the cast to win an NTA I’d pick two people: Steve McFadden – his performance as Phil on Christmas Day was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen – and Letitia Dean (Sharon). They were both stunning and deserve all the plaudits. It’s inspiring to watch them work. They are the king and queen of Walford!”
You can vote free online at nationaltvawards.com or by phone on 0905 647 2020. Votes must be in by 12 pm on Tuesday 28th January.
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