One of EastEnders‘ most popular couples will have been apart for months when the soap returns in the autumn, putting their future happiness in jeopardy – but there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation.
Ben Mitchell and Callum Highway were forced to live separately during lockdown, actors Max Bowden and Tony Clay confirmed in the latest edition of backstage spin-off EastEnders: Secrets From the Square, which focused on the Ballum boys.
Speaking to host Stacey Dooley, the stars teased what was in store for the duo once we’re back in Walford later this year, following the summer’s transmission break caused by the production’s pandemic shutdown.
Bowden reveals Ben chose his family over his fella when it came to deciding who to go into isolation with – well, he is a Mitchell, and it is all about ‘faaaamily’ as grandma Peggy used to say…
“Ben has been in lockdown with his dad Phil, his daughter Lexi and her mum Lola,” he explained. “Phil was in a high-risk category because of his liver transplant a few years ago, and Ben wanted to be with his daughter in lockdown, obviously.
“But Ben was personally not in a good place when we left him. He was going back to a life of crime while Callum was going the other way and becoming a copper.”
“They’ve not been able to see each other,” added Clay. “And it will be interesting to pick up their dynamic after that. Callum finally got Ben away from his dad and the dodgy jobs, then he’s back with him again…”
Ben’s struggle between being a goodie or a baddie will continue to be explored once the soap is back in business in September, which means more soul-searching for the conflicted character who was on the verge of finding happiness at last.
“Who is the most important man in Ben’s life, Phil or Callum?” questioned Bowden. “That is the big question. Is Ben going to be the man he wants to be with Callum, or the Ben his dad wants him to be? It’s hard to answer that until we get back.”
“It’s a brilliant avenue to explore,” echoed Clay. “Callum is very focused on getting into the police and doesn’t want that derailed by Ben trying to impress his dad yet again.
“So he wants to be a good officer but what if he walks in on Phil and Ben doing something dodgy, does he turn away and ignore it? It’s going to be exciting.”
The impact of Ben’s hearing loss following February’s boat disaster will also play a part in storylines once EastEnders returns, said the actors.
EastEnders has been off air since 16th June when the last episodes to be completed pre-lockdown were shown. Filming resumed on 29th June, and so far, we think 7th September could be the date when EastEnders will return, although this is yet to be officially announced by the BBC.
Secrets From the Square airs Mondays at 8.00pm on BBC One, and classic episodes from the archive are shown Tuesdays at 7.30pm, ensuring fans get their Walford fix during the hiatus.