Stella wants Phil all to herself on EastEnders… so where does that leave Ben? Actress Sophie Thomson explains

She’s got a marriage proposal out of Phil so why is Stella still terrorising Ben? Is it because she truly hates him? Because she wants Phil all to herself? Because she enjoys it?
“It’s actually all the above. What she’s doing to Ben and why she’s doing it is complex. That any adult would abuse a child is hard to understand. In Stella’s case it started because she sees Ben as a little brat who’s getting in between her and Phil. But now Phil’s committed to her it hasn’t stopped. It becomes obvious she wants Ben out of the way.”

‘Out of the way’ in what way… could she mean dead?!
“Things are set to become even darker. All I can say is Stella will do what it takes. Who knows what she’s capable of?”

And it doesn’t take much to set her off. Stella is desperate to get an engagement ring on her finger but Phil can’t even be bothered going shopping for the ring with her.
“He says he’s not traipsing round the shops but, then, later that day comes home with a new laptop for Ben. Stella’s furious he found time for
Ben and not her. She’s wildly jealous too and takes it out on Ben. It’s a bit like Phil hurts her so she hurts Ben…”

So she deliberately teaches Ben the words of his spelling test incorrectly. And her mood darkens further when Phil gives her money to go and buy her engagement ring herself and suggests a family weekend away.
“She wants a romantic break, not Ben tagging along. And she knows just how to get what she wants. Instead of telling Phil Ben did badly in his test, she tells him Ben did very good… then she tells Ben that he owes her and has to make sure he doesn’t come on holiday. Her way of controlling and punishing Ben is to make out she’s his friend and that she is keeping this big secret by not telling Phil how naughty, weak and stupid his son is. She’s knows Ben’s greatest fear is disappointing his dad that he’s not a ‘real Mitchell’

“She’s doing what abusive people do. They find their victim’s weakness and exploit it. They make the victim think that they need them. It’s part of the manipulation.”

And Ben doesn’t stand a chance. His age makes him virtually helpless against Stella. “One minute Stella is being all nice to him, the next she’s setting him up and insulting him. And all the while there are the threats – spoken or unspoken. The child is left confused and too scared of what might happen to even dare tell anyone.”

And this time it works a treat. Ben vandalises the loos at school and as a punishment Phil tells him he can’t go away with him and Stella. What with that and Phil finally proposing you’d think Steall would be doing cartwheels.
“Anything but. The proposal is about the most unromantic ever. Phil hides the ring in a burger bun! Then he says he would be more relaxed and romantic if Ben came on holiday with them!”

Which means Stella now has to get Ben to come… Easy you might think given her box of sick tricks, only at last someone is noticing Ben’s behaving more oddly than usual.
“Unknown to Stella, Peggy’s concerned. The vandalising of the school loos has got her thinking and she wants Ben to tell her why he did it…”

Does he tell?
“I think the point is that if Stella even thinks Peggy’s getting suspicious things will get a whole lot worse for Ben… and quickly!”