Survivors Manchester in Albert Square
Ben Mitchell (played by Max Bowden) will be at the centre of a new storyline after his character is raped by Lewis (played by Aidan O’Callaghan).
EastEnders has been working closely with various charities and organisations on the storyline including Survivors Manchester.
Kate Oates, Head of Continuing Drama, BBC Studios said of the storyline:“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.”
Duncan Craig OBE, Chief Executive, Survivors Manchester, said“We are so pleased to be able to work with EastEnders on supporting the creation, development and telling of such an important story, one that many male survivors have themselves experienced. Men as victims of sexual assault, rape and abuse is one that is often minimised, ignored or forgotten and unless its spoken about, we as a society wont fully be able to tackle it.”
Actor Max Bowden, who is working with Duncan on the development of Ben’s experience said “Alongside some wonderful charities, and some very inspirational survivors of male sexual assault in the UK, I think we’ve been able to really strive to tell the most truthful account we can, and I hope we can raise awareness and understanding on a topic that is rarely covered. I’m honoured to be given this opportunity to tell such an important story.”
Survivors Manchester is no stranger to supporting the development of male victim/survivor stories on TV, having previously worked with Hollyoaks and Coronation Street on numerous stories
Duncan added: “Whilst there is always some criticism at soap, drama or any kind of entertainment telling a story such as this, I am 100% confident that these cultural references have a direct impact on creating change within society but more importantly to me as a survivor, a direct impact on individual survivors themselves. I often think if I only had seen something on TV when I was going through my experience of sexual violence that showed it happens to men too, maybe I wouldn’t have stayed silent so long and caused so much damage to myself. I am so grateful to EastEnders for giving male survivors a platform, a voice, and a moment in time to be seen when many are looking the other way.”
“Having worked with TV dramas before, we know just what impact these cultural anchor points has on society and on male survivors. The creative team at EastEnders have really tapped into our experience of story development and have been incredibly open to conversation and debate; whilst Max and Aidan have been and are brilliant to work with as they clearly want to ensure that not only should the characters portray this accurately, but also that they can talk about sexual violence against males with confidence”
The storyline will begin airing in Spring 2022.