The fall out from the Thames boat crash has only just begun...
EastEnders has confirmed that the drama from the Thames boat party disaster is set to continue as Ben Mitchell finds his world falling apart around him as he struggles to come to terms with additional loss of hearing.
EastEnders fans already know that Ben famously wears a hearing aid in one ear, but after he suffered a head injury as he fell from the boat in last week’s dramatic 35th anniversary episodes, he will now discover his hearing has reduced significantly.
As part of this storyline for Ben, a new character called Frankie is set to arrive in Walford, played by deaf actress Rose Ayling-Ellis.
According to the BBC soap the storyline will explore what it means to be deaf in the UK today, and shine a spotlight on someone the experiences and challenges that deaf people go through.
EastEnders has also worked closely with the National Deaf Children’s Society as well as experts in the field to ensure that the storyline is portrayed as accurately as possible.
Speaking of her new role on the soap, actress Rose Ayling-Ellis has said: “I am so excited to be joining the cast of EastEnders and I am equally proud to be one of the first deaf actresses to be part of this iconic soap. I can’t wait for everyone to meet Frankie!”
Executive Producer Jon Sen added: “It has been a long time ambition of EastEnders to reflect the experience of the deaf community and Ben’s new story was the perfect opportunity to do that. We are thrilled to be working with Rose.”
Charlie Swinbourne, who is part of the show’s writing team and pitched the idea for this storyline, said: “Being deaf myself, and a fan of the show from an early age, I’ve always looked out for Ben Mitchell’s character because he was the one who wore hearing aids!
“I wanted to explore how losing more of his hearing affects Ben, as well as how it makes him see the world – and his deaf identity – a bit differently as time goes on.
“I also wanted to see deaf characters and sign language become a part of Albert Square, because we see so little representation of deafness in mainstream media. I’m really excited to see this story reach the screen.”
EastEnders airs Monday and Friday at 8pm and Tuesday and Thursday at 7.30pm on BBC One.