EastEnders: Ben Mitchell looks resigned in his final shot in prison ahead of his exit (Credit: BBC)

EastEnders airs Ben Mitchell’s exit and fans declare: ‘I’ll never recover’

Plenty of tissues were needed for Max Bowden's final scenes

Ben Mitchell’s exit from EastEnders has aired and it has left fans of the soap distraught. Ben has been parted from his husband Callum Highway and Ballum fans are not okay.

Earlier this week Ben was arrested for credit card fraud committed last year in America. It was while he was desperately trying to save Lola’s life.

He was adamant he was going to fight the charges, but how did Ben eventually leave the soap?

EastEnders: Callum looks upset as he looks at Ben through prison bars
Callum got the chance to say goodbye to Ben (Credit: BBC)

Ben Mitchell’s EastEnders exit plays out

Last night (Wednesday March 27) Ben was denied bail after he was deemed a flight risk. It was pretty spot on because back at home Phil had got him and Lexi fake passports and was packing their things so they could flee the country once Ben was granted bail!

Jay returned home to break the bad news to everyone, while Callum used his police job to his advantage and got to visit his husband in the cells.

Ritchie had told them Ben was pleading not guilty, but Callum had had enough. He told Ben: “I know you want to fight this, but if you really love me, you’ll admit what you’ve done and plead guilty. You’ll get a shorter sentence and be back home and free sooner.

“Just for once, do the right thing,” he begged.

Ben admitted he was scared, but Cal promised to be there for him, write to him every day and visit as often as he could. Resigned Ben then agreed to plead guilty.

Callum insisted he would be there waiting for him when he came home. But Ben dropped the bombshell he didn’t want him to wait.

“All I do is hurt you, Cal,” he told his husband. “You need to be free.”

As Callum begged him not to end things, Ben told him: “Thank you, for everything, it’s over now.”

Despite Callum walking away, he came back again moments later and insisted it wasn’t up to Ben. He said he would wait for him no matter what and then signed ‘I love you’ to him. Ben admitted he loved him too – calling him Callum Highway-Mitchell. They shared a tender kiss on the hands through the bars and Callum left sobbing Ben.

Callum touches Ben's cheek through the prison bars
This moment got Ballum fans (Credit: BBC)

Fans in bits

Those watching at home, in particular long-time fans of ‘Ballum’ were heartbroken over the scenes. One even said they’d ‘never recover’. And although Ben’s exit storyline had come under fire this week for being too rushed and plucked out of thin air, many felt the final scenes made up for it all.

One praised writer Pete Lawson for doing the ending justice: “Never underestimate a good writer. You get such powerful and beautiful emotional scenes at the same time that you run out of breath.”

“If he had to go, that was the way to do it – bravo Pete Lawson,” agreed another.

“I love EastEnders massively but the show has destroyed me with today’s episode. I sobbed. Please give them back to me. I’ll wait,” said one more.

Another said: “My god EastEnders…I’m not really a Ben fan but that last Ballum scenes had tears steaming.”

“I’m not a fan of Ben and Callum but that last scene even had me sobbing. Max and Tony did such an incredible job with that and even though Chris Clenshaw rushed tf out of it, it was kinda lovely,” added someone else.

Ben Mitchell's last scene in EastEnders as he cries in his cell
Ben has gone and Max has moved on (Credit: BBC)

Max Bowden moves on

Yesterday it was revealed Max already has a new role following his EastEnders farewell. He is joining the 30th anniversary tour of play Birdsong as Jack Firebrace. A sapper on the frontline, deeply loyal with a big heart.

Speaking on the show’s official social media account, Max said: “I’m so excited to be collaborating with Original Theatre again on a project close to my heart. Birdsong highlights the tragedy of war, yet the beauty of humanity simultaneously through strong relationships under extreme circumstances, and I can’t wait to bring Jack Firebrace to life under their guidance.”

Read more: Who is leaving EastEnders this year?

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EastEnders usually airs Monday to Thursday at 7.30pm on BBC One.

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Carena Crawford
Associate Editor (Soaps)