EastEnders viewers praised Max Bowden’s ‘outstanding’ performance during last night’s episode (Monday, May 23) as his character, Ben Mitchell was raped by Lewis Butler (Aidan O’Callaghan) in harrowing scenes.
Last night’s heartbreaking EastEnders episode saw Ben drinking at The Queen Vic after an argument with his husband, Callum Highway (Tony Clay).
As Ben contemplated his marriage, he downloaded a dating app and saw Albert bar manager Lewis on there.
The pair later met up for drinks at the Albert and a drunk Ben opened up to Lewis.
As the bar closed, they both went upstairs, but after Ben received a picture of Callum with his daughter, Lexi he realised he had made a mistake and tried to leave.
Lewis held him down and refused to let him go and proceeded to sexually assault him in distressing scenes.
Fans were devastated after the heartbreaking scenes, but showered Max with praise after his incredible performance and how he handled the sensitive topic...
The one thing I will say about tonight’s episode is that Max, Aidan, and Tony where phenomenal. Truly amazed by their performances 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼#EastEndersMay 23, 2022
Max Bowden is such a brilliant actor who deserves to be given all his flowers! A heartbreaking scene so well delivered. #EastEndersMay 23, 2022
Max and Callum are absolutely phenomenal actors and deserve all the awards #EastEndersMay 23, 2022
Max did an incredible job. #EastEndersMay 23, 2022
that was so hard to watch but can we just talk about the performance from max especially the scene at the end its so heartbreaking to watch. just want to say #eastenders always tackle hard hitting issues so well. not looking forward to the rest of the week 😭💔 #ballumMay 23, 2022
That was awful to watch but max Bowden was fantastic 👏👏 #EastEndersMay 23, 2022
It was announced earlier this month that Ben would be the victim of rape in an upcoming EastEnders storyline, with his trauma coming just as Ben is still struggling to come to terms with the homophobic attack on Callum in January.
Since the attack, Ben’s mental health has reached rock bottom as he has been getting revenge by attacking homophobic men in the street, leaving one man badly beaten in hospital and even attacking his own nephew Peter Beale in a case of mistaken identity.
Talking to What to Watch, Max revealed that the ordeal is a nod to a past storyline featuring Ben's mum, Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth).
Back in the 1980s, Kathy was herself a victim of rape at the hands of vile Willmott Brown. And Max has pointed out that Ben's attack happens in the very same location where his mum was also raped...
He said: "It was a deliberate move from the writers. What’s really great about what's happening with the show at the moment is there's a lot of referencing and a lot of links back to history, which the fans love.
"They love to be reminded of stuff that's happened before. And also for that to then correlate within the story is genius, it keeps the show at its roots and about family, heritage and all of the things that make EastEnders what it is.
"Gillian and I have the most amazing relationship and we're really close so there was a lot of cross-referencing between us as to her experience of when she filmed it and my experience going through it. There’s always a conversation to be had with Gillian Taylforth!"
EastEnders continues tonight at 7:30pm on BBC One.
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Grace is a digital writer with WhatToWatch.com, where she writes series guides for must-watch shows and the latest TV news. She graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in 2020 with a degree in Writing and Film Studies, which only made her love for creative writing, film and TV grow stronger.
You'll usually find her watching the drama unfold in the latest reality series and much-loved soaps (usually with chocolate by her side!). Grace also likes to explore new places with her friends and family and, of course, watch and read about the latest films and TV series.