EastEnders fans have praised the soap for tackling a difficult issue after it was announced that Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) will be involved in a harrowing storyline where he is raped by Albert bar manager Lewis (Aidan O’Callaghan).
The news has been confirmed by BBC’s Head of Continuing Drama Kate Oates and is intended to raise awareness of male rape.
She revealed: “Ben has endured a traumatic time after witnessing a homophobic attack on Callum that brought back painful memories of losing Paul. As a result, Ben lost his way in life… which is when he found Lewis. Ben finds Lewis attractive, and thinks of him as a someone who can understand him in a way Callum does not; but that trust is abused when Lewis crosses a line and rapes Ben.
“Through this story, we hope to explore issues of consent, sexual identity, masculinity, and sexual assault, focussing on how this fateful night impacts Ben and those who love him over the coming months.”
EastEnders has been working closely with a number of charities and organisations on the storyline, including SurvivorsUK (opens in new tab), Survivors Manchester (opens in new tab) and the Male Survivors Partnership (opens in new tab) (MSP).
Fan-favourite Ben has been struggling to cope with his PTSD since the homophobic attack on his husband, Callum Highway (Tony Clay) last year.
Since then, his and Callum’s relationship has spiralled and Ben has been finding other outlets to express his complicated emotions, including beating homophobic men.
Over the last few weeks, Ben has befriended Albert bar manager Lewis, but this upcoming storyline shows that Lewis takes a sinister turn and abuses their trust.
EastEnders fans took to social media to commend the soap on addressing such a difficult issue…
I'm actually quite pleased that #EastEnders are covering "Gay male Rape" for Ben. Male Rape is significantly on the rise in the UK but is very "Taboo" from an LGBT prospective. It's a first for #EastEnders after being denied the story 10 years ago. @MaxBowden will be incredible. pic.twitter.com/fInLFilid1April 24, 2022
People do realise that there not meant to like this new Ben sl right? EastEnders aren't doing it to draw in viewers or be liked there doing it to highlight the crime and raise awareness so you can tweet comment and quote as much as you want it isn't going to change anythingApril 24, 2022
Still trying to get my head around this new SL for Ben. It's going to be an incredibly tough watch. I'm glad we've been made aware of it at this stage. I'm confident this SL will be done well & handled sensitively by the EE team. Max & Tony will be fantastic. #EastEndersApril 23, 2022
Gonna be a tough to watch but it will raise awareness & so proud of EastEnders for doing this important storyline and @MaxBowden will be incredible with this👏👏👏 #MaleRape #EastendersApril 24, 2022
Although the story will be a first in EastEnders history, some fans accused the soap of copying Coronation Street’s male rape storyline, when David Platt (Jack P. Shepherd) was raped by Josh Tucker (Ryan Clayton).
However, one Twitter user pointed out that soaps copy each other all the time and that they’re glad EastEnders is doing the storyline…
Seeing comments on EastEnders Facebook page about Ben's male rape storyline saying 'they are copying of corrie' Soaps copy of each other all the time! Not forgetting Hollyoaks did a male rape storyline twice. I'm glad EastEnders is doing this storyline🙌❤ #Eastenders xxApril 24, 2022
EastEnders airs Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm on BBC One.
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.
Get the latest updates, reviews and unmissable series to watch and more!
Thank you for signing up to Whattowatch. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.