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EastEnders star reveals Ben will shield Callum from truth of rape ordeal

Actor Max Bowden discusses how Ben reacts in the wake of being attacked by Lewis.

Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) in EastEnders
BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron
Published: Tuesday, 17th May 2022 at 12:01 am
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This article contains discussion of sexual assault that some readers may find upsetting.

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Max Bowden has said that his EastEnders character Ben Mitchell will protect husband Callum Highway (Tony Clay) from the truth in the aftermath of being raped by bar manager Lewis Butler (Aidan O'Callaghan).

Ben is set to be brutally attacked by the man he thought of as a friend later this month, during a turbulent time for the troubled character. So far on-screen, Lewis has been outwardly charming and supportive towards Ben as he struggles to deal with PTSD over a homophobic attack at the start of the year.

This is something which has put Ben at loggerheads with his husband as he sought to dish out his own brand of justice. But any trust Ben places in Lewis is about to be abused in the most horrific way.

Speaking to RadioTimes.com and other media about this challenging new storyline, Bowden explained that an unaware Callum will ask Ben outright if he slept with Lewis - and Ben doesn't deny it.

"I think it's the confusion still, the idea of not wanting to be a victim," the actor revealed.

"The thing Ben's always tried to be is a man and what he believes that to be from Phil. And he thinks it's easier for Callum to think that he's cheated on him than to think that Ben is a victim of rape."

Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) and Lewis Butler (Aidan O'Callaghan) in EastEnders BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

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But as Bowden pointed out, Ben's decision will only make his situation worse.

"He doesn't quite understand the consequences that come with it – such darkness, and he's so shell-shocked and damaged that this idea of self-sabotage and not deserving safety and security and happiness just comes over him. That is what is important in that moment, to protect Callum."

Reflecting on whether Ben will be able to confide in anyone, the actor added: "In the immediate, it's difficult for him to come to terms with what's happened.

"With any sort of trauma eventually you have to release, so there will come a time when it becomes more on the surface. But at the moment he's got to rebuild his self-understanding again, this knowledge of himself and coming to terms with the fact that he will never be the same again."

Asked whether he thinks Ben and Callum can overcome such a dark time, Bowden certainly hopes that will be the case. "I've always said that working with Tony is one of the joys in my life. So selfishly, as an actor, I'd always want Ben and Callum to find themselves reunited, and hopefully, we can see that happen.

"[There's] such a big following and real love and understanding between them. There’s a big journey to go on for both of them to get to what each character should be, and what they ultimately can be together."

EastEnders is working closely with Survivors Manchester on Ben's storyline. You can find help and support at https://www.survivorsmanchester.org.uk/ and https://www.survivorsuk.org/.

Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers. If you’re looking for more to watch check out our TV guide.

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