Here's a note for EastEnders fans who might think their TV volume is playing up once they tune in later - when Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) is on screen and the sound suddenly becomes muffled and distorted, it's completely deliberate.
The soap has announced Ben, who is partially deaf in one ear having contracted meningitis as a baby, will struggle with additional hearing loss in the aftermath of his head injury incurred in last week's boat disaster that killed off stepbrother Dennis Rickman.
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As a way of stylistically flagging Ben's communication difficulties, from Monday 24th February the soap is employing a stylistic device to let viewers share in Ben's altered sensory experience by breaking the normal use of sound in scenes featuring the moody mechanic.
"In upcoming episodes, viewers will notice certain audio differences when Ben is on screen and is unable to hear other characters," explains an EastEnders spokesperson, who also confirmed to RadioTimes.com the audio trickery is 100% intended and very much part of the plot.
As Ben attempts to adapt to the change in his hearing in the coming weeks, and the challenge of communicating, he will meet new character Frankie, played by deaf actress Rose Ayling-Ellis, who's introduction will explore the day-to-day lives of young deaf people in the UK and raise awareness of the issues they face.
Executive Producer Jon Sen says: "Ben's new story is the perfect opportunity to reflect the experience of the death community. We are thrilled to be working with Rose on these episodes."
Ben's decline in hearing comes as he fears for the fate of lover Callum Highway who is still missing having been abducted by Keanu Taylor. Despite Sharon's ex-toy boy giving the warehouse location of his hostage, when Shirley Carter went to find him he was nowhere to be seen - but viewers know Callum fell through a chute and is trapped. How long before he's found? If he is found, that is…
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