EastEnders’ Max Bowden reveals what’s getting him and co-star Steve McFadden fired up during lockdown

And no, it’s not Normal People…

With EastEnders still on a filming hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, cast members have had to find new ways to fill their time.

We’ve already revealed how Shona McGarty (Whitney Dean), has been teaching herself how to yodel, and Milly Zero (Dotty Cotton) has been working as an NHS Volunteer Responder. And now we can exclusively reveal that fan favourite Max Bowden, who plays Ben Mitchell, has been swapping recipes with Steve McFadden, who plays his screen dad, hard man Phil.

Max tells us: “Me and Steve text each other with food recipes. He’s a big cook, like me.

“Generally, I’ll send him a recipe and he’ll tweak it to make a better version. We’ve been doing these Indian salads at the moment, and he’ll send me a way to make it better – kachumber salads. Maybe we’ll bring out a cookbook, who knows?”

On screen, they’re father and son. Off-screen, they’re cooking buddies…

The 25 year old star adds that he has also been working out a lot, and has invested in a punch bag to make up for not being able to get out to the gym.

“To be honest, I spend most time just with my punch bag in the garden, doing exercise,” he says. “That investment has definitely been a good way of channelling different things. It’s hard when you’re in lockdown, but you’ve got to make the most of it.”

On screen, Max’s character Ben – who has lived with impaired hearing after contracting meningitis as a child – is currently struggling to cope with additional hearing loss after suffering a head injury in the Queen Vic boat party crash in February.

He was due to have surgery this week, but the operation was postponed when he became unwell, leaving him devastated.

Ben’s high temperature meant that surgery to help fix his hearing loss had to be called off…

EastEnders bosses recently announced that a special episode will air next month, told entirely from Ben’s perspective as he prepares for a dangerous job with Phil. Featuring limited audio levels and on-screen subtitles showing words and fractured sentences, the instalment will reflect Ben’s hearing difficulties and highlighting the realities of life for deaf people in the UK.

Says executive producer Jon Sen: “This special point of view episode is a ground-breaking episode unlike any other attempted in the history of EastEnders. Helmed by a compelling performance by Max Bowden, it allows the audience the opportunity to experience the world through Ben’s eyes and ears – a story communicated purely by his dialogue and the snatched words of those around him.

“I am so proud of what the team have achieved and cannot wait for the fans to see it.”

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