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EastEnders fans applaud Max Bowden’s ‘phenomenal’ acting after heartbreaking rape scene

EastEnders Ben Mitchell looks worried
EastEnders watchers praised Max Bowden's brilliant performance in difficult scenes. (Image credit: BBC)

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.

Ben and Callum argue in EastEnders

Ben and Callum argued in last night's EastEnders.  (Image credit: BBC)

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...

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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).

Ben Mitchell arranges to meet up with Lewis Butler.

Ben has been struggling to cope with the homophobic attack on his husband. (Image credit: BBC)

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.

Grace Morris
Grace Morris

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.