EastEnders responds amid viewer complaints on Ben sexual assault story | Soaps

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The scenes have been harrowing and emotional – and for some fans, it has been too much (Picture: BBC)

The BBC has responded to an influx of viewer complaints around an EastEnders story which has seen Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) be raped by sex attacker Lewis Butler (Aidan O’Callaghan).

The harrowing scenes have been part of a pre-announced storyline which EastEnders hopes will raise awareness around the subject of male rape.

But for some viewers, the unpalatable arc has proved to be too much for pre-watershed viewing, with many feeling that Ben has endured too much trauma over the years.

One fan wrote on Twitter: ‘I’m very upset about the whole Ben rape on EastEnders.’

Another claimed not to be a fan but was confronted by the scenes while channel hopping and stated: ‘This was NOT suitable TV before the watershed.’

In a statement to respond to official complaints, the BBC reminded that EastEnders has always been at the forefront of tackling serious issues.

Ben in EastEnders

Ben has been left tormented after his horrific ordeal (Picture: BBC)

‘EastEnders has been a pre-watershed BBC One staple for over 37 years and has a rich history of dealing with challenging and difficult issues and Ben’s story is one of these,’ it read.

‘We have worked closely with organisations and experts in the field to tell this story which we hope will raise awareness of sexual assaults and the issues surrounding them.

We are always mindful of the timeslot in which EastEnders is shown and we took great care to signpost this storyline prior to transmission, through on-air continuity and publicity as well as providing a BBC Action Line at the end of the episode which offers advice and support to those affected by the issue.’

Not all comments about the story have been negative – with many viewers praising the soap for bringing the issue to light and others praising the performances of Max and Aidan.

A Twitter user enthused: ‘Max, Aidan and Tony were superb this week. It was riveting to watch all three, Ben the rape victim, Lewis the Predator and Callum the betrayed husband. Each one of them shined in their own way.’

Another was in agreement, saying: ‘Max Bowden is gonna smash this storyline and it’s so important.’

EastEnders is working closely with SurvivorsUK, Survivors Manchester and the Male Survivors Partnership, to ensure the story is covered sensitively.

‘The important thing we’ve tried to deal with within this whole subject matter is the idea of consent,’ Max told Metro.co.uk.

‘The very straightforward fact that no means no -no matter what happens in the build-up. When that word is uttered, it means no.’

After the episode involving the attack aired, fans raised over £1000 for charity within 24 hours.

Upcoming scenes will see a broken Ben confide in mum Kathy (Gillian Taylforth) about his ordeal.

You can find information and support relating to male sexual assault by heading to Survivors UK website.

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EastEnders responds as viewers make official complaints over Ben’s rape story

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