EastEnders is set to air a hard hitting storyline later this year covering the issue of male rape when Max Bowden’s character Ben Mitchell was attacked.
Male rape was previously addressed by the show, but it was dropped ten years ago because it was regarded too controversial for popular pre-watershed television.
In the years after David Platt in Coronation Street was pivotal to a male rape tale, viewers will recall Luke Morgan being severely attacked in a late-night episode of Hollyoaks.
Aidan O’Callaghan’s character, Barman Lewis, has befriended Max in recent weeks as he goes through a significant identity crisis following a brutal beating involving himself and Callum at New Year’s.
A struggling Ben has since attacked homophobes but a future scene will see things go too far, leading to Ben confiding in Lewis.
Max 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.
‘It’s the first time EastEnders has explored this topic, but they’ve always been at the forefront of exposing these vital issues,’ a TV insider told The Sun.
‘As always, the programme is collaborating with several organisations to ensure that everything is handled as carefully as possible.’
‘The attack will not be shown on television, but spectators will be aware that it is taking place.’
Producers have been working closely with SurvivorsUK, Survivors Manchester, and the Male Survivors Partnership to ensure that it is handled appropriately.
It happened after Max was spotted on Instagram doing research for an unknown tale.
The BBC has been approached by Metro.co.uk and will publicly confirm the storyline in the coming days.
‘I’m honoured to be given this opportunity to tell such an important story.’
‘Ben has been through a horrific time after seeing a homophobic attack on Callum, which brought back painful memories of losing Paul,’ said BBC continuing drama head Kate Oates.
‘As a result, Ben lost his bearings in life…until he met Lewis.’ Ben thinks of Lewis as someone who can understand him in a way that Callum can’t; nonetheless, that trust is betrayed when Lewis crosses a line and rapes Ben.’
‘We intend to address topics of consent, sexual identity, masculinity, and sexual assault via this story, concentrating on how this fateful night affects Ben and those who love him in the months ahead.’
SurvivorsUK Services Manager Marta Almeida said: ‘Almost all of us will know a man who has been sexually assaulted at some point, yet a significant percentage of male survivors still don’t feel there is a space for them to come forwards.’
‘Storylines like this one provide an incredible opportunity to look into the lives of so many men, families, and communities across the United Kingdom.’
Former producer Bryan Kirkwood, who moved to Hollyoaks, offered the idea of a male rape storyline to the BBC a decade ago, but it was rejected. He has recently returned to the soap opera to compose infrequent episodes.
The dark storyline will unfold next month.