Note: The following article discusses topics, including sexual assault, that some readers may find shocking.
EastEnders spoilers follow.
EastEnders star Aidan O’Callaghan has revealed what he would have changed about his character Lewis Butler’s story.
Viewers know that Lewis raped Ben earlier this year, and his demise is set in this week’s episodes.
Before that, Lewis was introduced as a bar manager at The Albert, which initially elicited a positive response from fans. Unsurprisingly, this sparked some criticism of the show when Ben’s rape story was announced, and Aidan – who plays Lewis – has admitted he understands why.
Speaking exclusively with digital spyAidan said: “I was [aware of the backlash]. I remember being so happy with the first reaction because that’s what you want: you want authenticity and diversity, and people say Lewis is great and fun.
“I was elated and initially disappointed that the spoilers for this story came out so quickly because I wanted to take them longer on Lewis’ journey. I initially had to make people like Lewis.
“If I could have had a magic wand, I wish it had stretched a little further, but in the same breath it was fascinating to play that arc so fast and get everyone on that roller coaster.”
In tonight’s episode, Ben gets the chance to confront Lewis for attacking him, in high-stakes scenes that leave Lewis fearing for his life.
“Initially, when I heard about that part of the story, I was so excited,” Aidan said. “I really wanted to embrace every second of working with Steve [McFadden]Kim [Medcalf] and Max Bowden]too. I was so thrilled and then the directors were really helpful by giving us time to access all those emotions.
“It was definitely a full week. We definitely had to use all the tools we could think of, but it was fun at the same time.
“Lewis thinks this is it for him, it’s very scary. Lewis thinks it’s his last chance and I think he was embarrassed afterwards because he was crying and screaming for help, so he feels very uncomfortable about that afterwards. He definitely thinks he’s going to die, though, and he really begs [Ben] with all his energy not to kill him.”
Asked if Lewis feels remorse for what he did to Ben, Aidan added: “The interesting thing about this, and it was such a fascinating experience playing Lewis, because it all comes back in shame and a lot of people don’t realize their feel comfortable with the shame because it makes them vulnerable.
“In this scenario and so far, Lewis has not let that sense of shame bubble up. In Lewis’ head he thinks, ‘What will it mean to me as a character if I examine this shame and give in to the trauma I have?’ causes another person?’.
“A lot of what he does to avoid this feeling brings up Ben’s flaws, like being the Walford attacker and he sends all these uncomfortable emotions on him. This experience in the warehouse eventually forces him to investigate that and what he does. has done.
“He is then completely overwhelmed with sadness, remorse and regret. It really all comes back to that feeling of shame.”
EastEnders airs Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm on BBC One and is streamed on BBC iPlayer.
read more EastEnders spoilers on our special homepage.
If you were affected by the topics covered in this story, many organizations can provide help and support, including: SurvivorsUK (0203 598 3898 or email@example.com), Survivors Manchester (0808 800 5005 or firstname.lastname@example.org) and the Partnership for Male Survivors (0808 800 5005 or email@example.com). In an emergency, call 999.