EastEnders’ Stella Crawford is so desperate to make Phil her own, she’s doing everything she can to make his son Ben’s life a misery. Sophie Thompson reveals all…

Stella is turning into a real bunny boiler, isn’t she?
“We are entering wicked stepmum territory. More and more she’s going to behave in a way you don’t expect a grown-up to. She’s like a playground bully only much worse.”

Wasn’t it enough to scare Ben by making him believe he was lost in the London Dungeons?
“That was Stella’s way of making Ben realise she’s the one in power. Up until then he’d had the upper hand over her with Phil and now it’s all about her turning the tables on him.”

Doesn’t Stella start by isolating Ben from his few friends, namely Abi Branning?
“There are her mind games and that’s one of them. It’s her way of manipulating Ben so that he starts to rely on her more and more. But there are her darker games too…”

Like physical abuse?
“Stella stirs a cup of hot chocolate, takes out the spoon and burns Ben’s hand with it. It’s a really shocking scene and it’s the moment when you realise she’s turned. And that she’s a very warped individual.”

Couldn’t Stella just have tried harder to become Ben’s friend?
“Maybe Ben has been so against her because he instinctively knew – as children often do – she was warped. But the why and wherefore doesn’t matter to Stella. Ben has always been the thorn in her side. She loves Phil and is jealous of the bond he shares with Ben. It really is as childish as that.”

Has Stella got a history of warped relationships? Did something perhaps happen to her that started her crazy behaviour?
“We do find a bit out about her family which sheds some light on this. Also, we know she’s divorced although not why the relationship ended. Whatever her past though, the bottom line is, she’s now a very damaged person.”

And a dangerous one, it seems. So, how far will Stella go to have Phil to herself?
“Although we all have to be careful and treat this whole issue very sensitively, Stella will go as far as it takes…”