EastEnders stars Max Bowden and Tony Clay talk #ballum

EastEnders - Ben, Whitney, Callum
(Image credit: (Picture: BBC))

It's all gonna kick-off in EastEnders tonight after Callum confessed he cheated on fiancee Whitney with Ben! But could there be a future for #ballum?

Move over Emmerdale's Robert Sugden and Aaron Dingle (aka #robron), there's a new favourite gay romance in soapland: Ben Mitchell and Callum Highway (aka #ballum) in EastEnders (opens in new tab)!

Mind you, while EastEnders viewers are loving all the will they/won't they drama, on screen Whitney Dean (played by Shona McGarty) is definitely NOT a fan. In last night's episode of EastEnders, Whitney's fiance Callum (Tony Clay) confessed he had cheated on her with local bad 'un Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden)...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrCYrjMscx8

EastEnders (opens in new tab) stars Max Bowden and Tony Clay talk all things #ballum and whether it's possible the pair might have a future together...

Just days before her wedding, that was some BIG news for Whitney to find out!

Tony: "It’s completely heartbreaking. It’s massively heart breaking. But it shows Callum's integrity is still there. He wanted to tell Whitney now and let her decide if they can get through this or not. Callum has evolved a lot and is such a joy to play now.  Now he’s fully embracing who he is and it’s beautiful to see. But obviously it's a heartbreaker for Whitney. But hopefully she'll be alright!"

Is Ben hoping Callum will call off the wedding?

Max: "I think in Ben’s head he is aware of Callum’s personal dilemma. More at this point he’s not thinking about himself. I know that sounds crazy, because Ben is very selfish at times, but he actually genuinely wants Callum to be who he is. That isn’t pursuing Whitney in that wedding. That isn’t living that lie. Ben sees that in Callum. For the first time he’s being open and honest since coming back to the Square. He's trying to give a man a chance at being himself."

EastEnders Ben Mitchell

Max Bowden as Ben Mitchell on EastEnders (Picture: BBC)

There seems to be a lot of love for team #ballum already!

Max: "I don’t think either of us expected it to be as immediate and as brilliant as it’s been. There’s such an interesting dynamic for us to play because as different as Ben and Callum are, they both have so many similarities. They come from this really dysfunctional background of toxic masculinity. Ben’s been through it. That’s what’s been so great."

Tony: "They’re kids both from troubled backgrounds in their own way. But they’ve both taken very different paths. Now they’ve met at the right age, the right time, and the right moment in their lives.  They’re worlds apart on so many things but equally there’s that thing that they come back to. And it all stems from their dads, really. It’s such an interesting thing to see."

Ben is always very angry at the world. Can Callum calm him down?

Max: "I think Callum gives a whole new dynamic to Ben that Ben needs. There’s moments with Callum, stability and safety, whether or not it lasts all the time for Ben. I think he’s always got a different thought. He’s so sporadic, spontaneous and impulsive that something lasts for two minutes then he moves on. It’s a crazy thing for Ben. Definitely Callum brings this whole new lease of life that Ben needs at this point. He needs to feel human again."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7B4d3eOqdE

Do you think these two could go the distance?

Max: "If I get to work with Tony Clay every day then that’s a gift. I mean that. He paid me for that! [laughs]. It’s a gift. There is so much for these two characters to give to each other and it’s a really exciting story to tell. It’s a story of a man coming out and feeling accepted and finding common ground and that’s so important to tell. I’m glad that we’re lucky enough to do it."

What was it like filming THAT kiss?

Tony: "Naturally we’re at an age where we’ve got beards going on so we’ve got a good amount of stubble. When you’ve got to film stuff for late nights until half eleven, in a park, very cold,  you do naturally get a bit of beard rash! Listen, both Shona McGarty and Max Bowden come with different qualities. I get no beard rash from Shona, which is lovely! But in that professional world, whoever’s put in front of you to kiss, you do! It’s part of your role and your job and you believe in the story."

EastEnders continues Mon (8:00pm), Tues, Thurs (7:30pm), Fri (8:00pm) on BBC One

Simon has long been a fan of soap operas, and especially loves OVER-THE-TOP plots involving evil twins, hair-pulling catfights and natural disasters.

Anyone remember the Sunset Beach earthquake/tidal wave?

Or when Krystle Carrington got locked in the attic and replaced by look-a-like Rita in Dynasty?!


Simon has written for a variety of TV and childrens’ magazines/websites including Inside Soap, Nickelodeon, What’s On TV, Radio Times, Metro, Girl Talk, Disney Girl, Toxic! and Digital Spy.

He has reported LIVE from the red carpet at The British Soap Awards interviewing glammed-up stars from soapland, and hosted a Facebook LIVE session for Metro with Home and Away legend Ray Meagher (Alf "Stone the flamin' crows!" Stewart) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Aussie soap.


Simon is also co-author of The Treasures Of Coronation Street (Carlton Books)


And the writer and director of (very!) low budget fright flick, Midsummer Night's EVIL and the sequel webisodes series, The Hatchet Woods HORROR.