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EastEnders boss reveals REAL reason she decided to recast THIS favourite character

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Ben Mitchell is coming back to EastEnders, but Kate Oates has made headlines after deciding to recast the role. Here's why she's done it...

EastEnders fans were left shocked when it was announced recently that Ben Mitchell would be making a surprising return to Walford - but instead of being played by regular actor Harry Reid, the role will be taken on my former Waterloo Road star, Max Bowden.

But while many viewers struggled to understand why the role had been recast when Ben only departed our screens just over a year ago, the soap remained tight-lipped over the controversial decision.

But last night the new EastEnders producer Kate Oates finally revealed why she made the decision to bring Phil Mitchell's son back with a new face.

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Talking to Digital Spy at the NTAs, Kate confessed: "Harry Reid is an awesome actor and I think he did really well with Ben. I really enjoyed watching him but I just wanted to take the character in a different direction and that's why I've gone for somebody different.

"I know recasts sometimes ruffle some feathers, and I know that sometimes people think they won't gel with that character the same way they used to.

"I just hope they give Max a chance. We have got some great story lining and it does shine a light on a different facet of Ben. It's a whole new era and that's what we want to emphasise."

Ben Mitchell, Phil Mitchell, EastEnders

Harry Reid as Ben Mitchell in EastEnders

The last time we saw Ben he was on board a ferry, heading to Calais armed with the missing heist money, leaving fans wondering if this was the last we would see of the character for some time.

But while he will soon be back, Ben won't be returning to Albert Square alone.

He will be joined by daughter Lexi Pearce, and her mother - Ben's cousin - Lola Pearce. Another recast that has recently been announced by the soap.

EastEnders airs Monday and Friday at 8pm and Tuesday and Thursday at 7.30pm on BBC One.