After the tragic events that took place on the Thames during the 35th-anniversary audiences were expected to see Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) struggling with his additional hearing loss after having suffered a head injury, making it difficult for him to communicate Walford is set to welcome Rose Ayling-Ellis as part of the storyline, a deaf actress who will be playing a new deaf character, called Frankie.
The storyline will explore what it means to be deaf in the UK today, and shine some light on some of the experiences and struggles that deaf people are going through.
EastEnders has worked closely with the National Deaf Children's Association as well as field professionals to ensure that the plot is presented as accurately as possible. Rosie Eggleston, who manages the National Deaf Children's Society's work with deaf young people, said:' From my work with so many deaf young people up and down the country, I've learned time and time again how demoralizing it is for them never to see themselves, their stories or their life experiences mirrored in the TV programs they love.
A major new EastEnders storyline could turn that on its head, and it's a massive step towards making the lives of deaf people more recognizable and better understood.
It's been brilliant to put the EastEnders staff in touch with deaf young people because they've been able to hear first-hand what it's like to grow up to be deaf in the UK today. Representation like this is just too important for 50,000 deaf children and young people in the UK. '
Rose Ayling-Ellis, playing Frankie's character, added:' I'm so excited to join EastEnders cast and I'm just as proud to be one of the first Deaf actresses to be part of such an iconic soap.
I can't wait to meet Frankie, After agreeing to explore this storyline, Jon Sen (Executive Producer) said:' EastEnders ' long-standing desire to represent the deaf community's perspective and the new story of Ben was the perfect opportunity to do so.
We are excited to collaborate with Rose, who is going to play Frankie's part.'
Charlie Swinbourne, part of the writing team at the show that pitched the idea of this storyline, said:' Creating a storyline and a character for EastEnders has been a lifelong dream of mine, so working with the EastEnders team over the last few months has been an incredible experience.
Being deaf myself and a fan of the show from an early age, I have always watched out for the character of Ben Mitchell, because he was the one with hearing aids!
I wanted to explore how Ben is affected by losing more of his hearing and how it helps him see the world–and his deaf personality–a bit differently as time goes by.
I always liked to see deaf actors and sign language become part of Albert Square because, in mainstream media, we see so little coverage of deafness. I'm so excited to see that story getting on the screen.'