EastEnders fans praise soap for addressing difficult issue with Ben’s male rape storyline

Ben Mitchell in EastEnders
EastEnders fans have applauded the soap for tackling a difficult issue. (Image credit: BBC / Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

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, Survivors Manchester and the Male Survivors Partnership (MSP).

Ben Mitchell talks to Albert bar manager Lewis

Ben is raped by Lewis in a devastating storyline. (Image credit: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

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…

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…

EastEnders airs Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm on BBC One.

Grace Morris
Staff Writer

Grace is a digital writer with WhatToWatch.com, where she writes series guides, recaps and features for must-watch shows and delivers all the latest soap news and reactions. 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 or much-loved UK soaps (usually with chocolate by her side!). She's an expert in EastEnders, Emmerdale, Coronation Street and everything reality-related from Selling Sunset and Married At First Sight UK to 90 Day Fiancé UK. Plus Netflix megahit Virgin River!

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.