*Warning: This article contains spoilers for Thursday 28th March's EastEnders, which was made available on BBC iPlayer at 6am.*


EastEnders has aired emotional final scenes between Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) and Callum Highway (Tony Clay) aka 'Ballum' in its early BBC iPlayer release on Thursday.

The BBC One soap has aired an abrupt exit storyline for Ben after it was confirmed late last year that actor Max Bowden would be written out of the role this Spring.

Earlier this week, Ben was arrested during husband Callum Highway’s birthday party for fraud - later revealed to be credit card fraud committed when he left for the US last year in a misguided attempt to find a miracle cure for Lola Pearce-Brown.

Ultimately, Ben was absent during Lola’s final hours and returned to tragic scenes and anger from his loved ones for his absence.

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Hoping for bail, Ben and his father Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) plotted for the former to flee the country with Lexi Pearce (Isabella Brown) but he was denied bail.

Callum was also angry to learn that Ben lied to him about being innocent of the crime he was accused of and took some persuading from Phil to see Ben.

Tony Clay as Callum Highway standing on one side of wall and Max Bowden as Ben Mitchell standing on the other in EastEnders.
Callum Highway (Tony Clay, left) had an honest chat with Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden, left) in EastEnders. BBC

When Phil’s plotting was discovered by Ben’s mum Kathy Cotton (Gillian Taylforth) and Lola’s grandfather Billy Mitchell (Perry Fenwick) about the plot, Lexi’s stepfather Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick) was furious at the plan and also blamed Phil for only putting his “blood” relatives first.

However, Phil was apologetic to Jay and regretted his actions.

In the end, Callum managed to pull strings and paid a visit to Ben in his cell and admonished him for his actions over the past year and beyond, with everything in their relationship being centric to Ben and leaving Callum feeling like a "passenger".

Callum encouraged Ben to plead guilty, not fight the charges, and then be able to get a shorter sentence and return home to him and Lexi sooner, reminding Ben that Lexi will have her family and two dads Callum and Jay to take care of her.

Ben ended up agreeing but decided to end their marriage and encouraged Callum to be free and pursue fresh love with other guys in London.

Praising Callum for becoming his authentic self, Ben said he never expected to love so strongly again since losing his boyfriend Paul Coker (Jonny Labey) but that Callum is the best thing that ever happened in his life.

Tony Clay as Callum Highway signing love to Max Bowden as Ben Mitchell through a prison cell window in EastEnders.
Callum made clear to Ben that he continued to love him and would stand by and wait for him to come home. BBC

An upset Callum then walked away after Ben sat down and said it was over.

However, Callum soon marched back and refused to lose Ben and said he would stand by him and never leave him. Callum refuses to move on with any other guy and let Ben push another person he loves away, maintaining he will be at home waiting for Ben when he gets out of prison.

Callum reaffirms his love for Ben - touchingly also through British Sign Language (BSL) which he learned when Ben was suffering from hearing loss - and Ben tells “Callum Highway-Mitchell” that he loves him too as they transfer kisses to each other’s lips via their fingers.

As Callum leaves, the episode ends with Ben Mitchell crying in his cell in actor Max Bowden’s final scenes in the role, having taken over as the sixth actor to play the role in 2019.

Max Bowden as an emotional but smiling Ben Mitchell in a prison cell in EastEnders.
Max Bowden departs the soap as the sixth actor to portray Ben Mitchell. BBC

Writing on Instagram ahead of his final scenes being broadcast, Bowden penned: “Well guys It’s that time!

“It’s been one hell of a ride! Thanks for taking Ben to your hearts and allowing my version into your lives. I had an amazing five years at @bbceastenders and learnt a hell of a lot about myself and the craft I love so dearly; it got me through some very hard personal times and I will be forever grateful!

“I really will never be able to thank everybody for the support enough, because the fans of the show are so passionate, caring, and invested and it enables us as actors to want to keep going and always be better; so I really do from the bottom of my heart appreciate every single person who has sent any sort of positivity my way over the last five years - I love you all.”

He concluded: “Ben Mitchell 6.0 [ticked box emoji, heart emoji] over and out [salute emoji, heart emoji] Goodbye EE! I’ll miss you all. X”.

Despite this, Bowden already has a new role in the pipeline.

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EastEnders airs Monday to Thursday on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

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