Max Bowden has replaced Harry Reid as Phil’s eldest son

EastEnders star Jamie Borthwick, who plays Jay Mitchell on the BBC1 soap, has spoken for the first time about the re-casting of his screen “brother,” Ben.

Back in January, ‘Enders bosses announced that they would be bringing Ben back to Walford, but had signed up Waterloo Road star Max Bowden for the role rather than Harry Reid, who had previously played Ben from 2014 to 2018.

The soap’s senior executive producer, Kate Oates, explained that she had made the decision as she wanted to take the character in a “different direction.”

Speaking at a recent press event, Jamie, who has played Jay since 2006, insisted he was not bitter about the axing of Reid – a close personal friend – and described Max as a “wonderful addition” to the programme.

He says: “I’ll be honest, I can’t really believe how well Max has slotted into this little family, and how well we’re getting on. We really hit it off straight away.

EastEnders Ben Mitchell and Phil Mitchell

Ben (Max Bowden) demands some answers from Phil next week in EastEnders

“I’m still very close friends with Harry; I speak to him all the time and he’s doing fantastically well with theatre now and smashing it out there. But we all understand as professionals that this happens, and you have to deal with it, which we all have. We’re just playing with the cards we’ve been dealt with, and making the best of the circumstances.”

He adds: “It’s almost like Max has been here for years. He’s doing some great work, and he’s a wonderful addition to the show.”

Viewers last saw Ben in early 2018, when he took a ferry to Calais after stealing money from Aidan Maguire’s heist.

The character will return to Albert Square from Portugal in the episode airing on 1st April, along with one-time fling Lola Pearce (Danielle Harold) and their now six year old daughter, Lexi.

Main picture: Dan Wooller/REX/Shutterstock