EastEnders' Steve McFadden tells Soaplife that he doesn't think Phil will ever accept that his son is gay... The boxing, the manly chats with Phil...they're not making any difference. Ben prefers show tunes to sparring and boys to girls. How's macho-man Phil ever going to deal with his boy being gay? "He wouldn't accept it," says Steve. "If Ben said he was gay, Phil believes he would have made a mistake." Only it's Phil who's making the mistake here. And one that could lose him his son for ever if he doesn't start listening... So what does Phil think is going on with Patrick and Ben? "He thinks Patrick is bullying Ben. He doesn't know why, but even if Ben has done something wrong, Phil thinks he's right because he is his son. He sees Patrick pushing Ben around and goes for him with a baseball bat." Then Ben admits he threatened Patrick to keep quiet after he saw him kissing someone... "Phil asks Ben why that would matter and his silence says it all. The penny half drops, but Phil doesn't want to hear it. It's classic denial. He pushes Ben out of the way and he falls and bruises his eye." Has he never suspected that Ben might be gay? "No I don’t think he has. He has this ideal of what Ben should be like and he's sticking to that. He wants him to be more like Jay. Someone who is useful with his fists and into normal macho things." What if Ben just tells him he's gay? "Phil would think that Ben is just a kid; he doesn’t know what he feels. He's not been with a woman, he hasn't had a relationship and he's on the threshold of his sexual world. He doesn't know what he is." Can't Phil see that Ben's in turmoil? "Yeah, but not the depth of it. He suspects Ben might be confused about his sexuality because of an alleged assault that happened in prison. He thinks he suffered in prison." What will it do to Ben if Phil doesn't accept his sexuality? "It's dangerous to try to make someone into something they're not. It could have repercussions." Might Phil turn to drink or drugs if he finds out the truth? "Yes, that’s definitely an option. He's more likely to become self-destructive than hit out."
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.