The episode, set entirely from Ben’s perspective, will follow the character as he struggles with the deterioration of his hearing.
The episode will use limited audio levels and on-screen subtitles showing words and fractured sentences to reflect Ben’s (Max Bowden) hearing difficulties and some of the realities of being a deaf person in the UK today.
“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.” – Jon Sen, EastEnders Executive Producer
In upcoming episodes, Ben is more determined than ever to prove that he is capable of helping his dad Phil (Steve McFadden) with his dodgy dealings but when they find themselves making a deal with the devil, will Ben be in too deep? The special episode will, the Beeb note, follow Ben as he grapples with recent events and finds himself in an unnerving situation which quickly spirals out of control…
Phil and Kathy’s (Gillian Taylforth) son fell ill with meningitis when he was a baby, leaving him partially deaf in one ear. A recent knock to the head has resulted in further hearing loss.
Ben noticed a deterioration in his hearing after the boat crash in February
The character has had problems with his hearing since being diagnosed with meningitis as a baby
EastEnders has worked closely with the National Deaf Children’s Society as well as audiologist’s and other experts in the field on Ben’s storyline which will see the arrival of a new deaf character Frankie (played by deaf actress Rose Ayling-Ellis), who Callum (Tony Clay) befriends and encourages her to meet with Ben to offer him support.
“It was an absolute privilege to work with the team, who were so dedicated to making sure they got this right. This ground-breaking episode will give viewers a glimpse into the challenges many deaf people in the UK come up against each and every day, with brilliant technical skill to make viewers feel some sense of what Ben Mitchell is experiencing.
“So many of the families and deaf young people that I speak to talk about the loneliness and isolation that deafness can bring. So much of this stems from the challenge of communicating, and people not making those little adjustments to include a deaf person in everyday conversation. From speaking clearly, not covering your mouth, to writing something down or using gestures when you speak – a little bit of deaf awareness can make a huge impact.
“But on top of all of this, for all those deaf young people who rarely see themselves, their life experiences or the challenges they go through represented on the programmes they love, this episode is for you.” – Vicki Kirwin, Audiology Specialist at the National Deaf Children’s Society
To find out more about how to communicate well with a deaf person, go to the National Deaf Children’s Society website.