Actor Max Bowden will play Phil’s eldest from next week

Newcomer Max Bowden has given fans a hint of what they can expect from the new-look Ben Mitchell in EastEnders.

It was announced back in January that Max – best known for playing Justin Fitzgerald in BBC1 school drama Waterloo Road – had been cast as Phil Mitchell’s eldest son. He’ll replace Harry Reid, who played the character from 2014 to 2018, and become the sixth actor to play the part.

Ben, last seen arriving in Calais after stealing money from Aidan Maguire’s heist, will arrive in Walford from Portugal next week, along with Lola Pearce (Danielle Harold) and their now six year old daughter, Lexi.

He’ll pitch up as Phil is desperately trying to raise cash to pay back associate Danny Freeman (Paul Usher) for what was lost in their now aborted money laundering operation in Spain.

Talking about how Ben has changed, Max tells us: “I think what’s happened is all the trouble and hurt that’s been placed on him in the past is taking its toll a lot more.

“He’s coming back with a slightly broodier sense of self. He’s more aware of who he is, and he’s quite content with who he is. But he still wants to be more. Everything that’s happened to him in the past is affecting him now.

“I think he’s certainly darker; he’s potentially looking at Phil as an idol. So I suppose there are resemblances.”

The actor adds that he watched old YouTube clips of Ben, but insists it was to get an understanding of the character’s history, rather than to “copy” previous performances.

“It’s absolutely my own character,” he tells us. “It was just in terms of knowing, psychologically, how much this has affected Ben. There are some very dark places that he has been to.

“It’s not about following other performances or anything like that; I want it to be completely my version of Ben.”

EastEnders continues on BBC1.