EastEnders‘ Bex Fowler (Jasmine Armfield) is recovering in hospital after trying to take her own life, leaving mum Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy) full of guilt at not realising how much her daughter was struggling.
Blaming herself for Bex bottling up her feelings, sad Son opened up in Friday 4th October’s episode about how she felt she was being punished for a particularly painful past decision: “It’s because I gave her away when she was born,” she lamented. “I thought I was doing the right thing. I let her down…”
While Stuart, Max and Whitney reassured her she was a good mum, here’s a reminder for fans who may not know what Sonia is referring to – here’s why Bex spent the first five years of her life apart from her parents…
When did Sonia Fowler give birth to Bex Fowler?
In one of EastEnders’ most memorable birth scenes ever, teenage Sonia went into labour without even knowing she was up the duff in October 2000 while home alone. She blamed the pain on indigestion and sent baffled boyfriend Jamie Mitchell home from what was supposed to be a romantic night in.
Sonia’s screams were so loud that Big Mo Harris burst in from next door to see what all the commotion was about and ended up delivering a little girl on Dot’s sofa.
Naming her Chloe, Sonia did the maths and dropped the bombshell to childhood pal Martin Fowler that the baby was the result of their one-off fumble nine months earlier. Too young to be parents at the time (they hadn’t even sat their GCSEs), they chose to put their daughter up for adoption.
Fun fact – Sonia’s social worker, Ameena, who organised Chloe being adopted was played by future Coronation Street star Shobna Galati (Dev’s deceased ex, and Asha and Aadi’s mum, Sunita Alahan).
In 2002 the guilt got too much for Sonia – she lost the plot, and tracked down and kidnapped her baby girl, barricading herself in the house until Dot intervened and persuaded her to give her back to her new family, the Millers.
How did Bex end up back with her birth parents?
Chloe, renamed Rebecca, came back into her biological parents’ lives in 2005 when her adoptive parents, Neil and Sue, were killed in a car crash. The Fowlers (Sonia and Martin married in 2004) read about the tragedy in the papers and decided to try for custody, but Rebecca’s adopted granny Margaret had become legal guardian and was having none of it.
Martin’s mum Pauline Fowler pushed the issue, her interference putting pressure on the marriage and Sonia cheated with nursing colleague Naomi Julien.
Margaret had a change of heart and handed Rebecca over to her birth family fearing she was too old to look after her, excluding Sonia after learning of her lesbian philandering. The next twist in the tale came when Margaret died suddenly in 2006 after a fall, giving Martin custody of his little girl. By this time his marriage to Sonia had totally collapsed and poisonous Pauline was on a mission to stop her daughter-in-law being a part of Rebecca’s life.
By Christmas 2006 Martin and Sonia were reconciled, finally a family of three with the girl they’d given away six years earlier. The trio left Walford in early 2007 once the dust settled on the scandal around Pauline’s mysterious death.
The Bex we know and love today, complete with adolescent shortened nickname, was first seen in 2014 when the character rejoined the full-time cast, along with Sonia and Martin – albeit with a new face, as James Bye took over from James Alexandrou.
Weirdly, this chapter of Bex’s upbringing is barely mentioned…
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