Max Bowden

A complete timeline of Max Bowden in EastEnders, including off screen drama and his ‘axing’

Rumours have been rife about why Max is leaving EastEnders

Ben Mitchell said goodbye to Walford in today’s episode of EastEnders.

Ben’s off to prison in the USA because he committed credit card fraud last year when he went to find out more about the treatment that he thought might save Lola’s life.

In the end, of course, it was too late – and now his bad decisions are coming back to haunt him.

In today’s episode we saw a tearful Ben say goodbye to his husband Callum, while the family rallied round little Lexi and told her they’d all be looking out for her.

Of course, Ben being jailed means a departure for Max Bowden, who’s played the troubled Mitchell since 2019.

So what’s Max’s story and why has he left EastEnders?

Jay and Lexi pay Ben a visit at the police station on EastEnders
Ben says goodbye to daughter Lexi (Credit: BBC)

When did Max join EastEnders as Ben Mitchell?

Max joined EastEnders in 2019 becoming the sixth actor to take on the role of Ben Mitchell. He took over from Harry Reid, who’d played Ben from 2014 until 2018.

When he took on the role, he worked hard to cope with the responsibility of playing an already established character. He watched lots of previous episodes of EastEnders, and worked with the the writers and crew on Ben’s backstory, and he was touched when Harry Reid sent him a message on social media wishing him luck with the role.

Harry Reid played Ben when he met Paul Coker (played by Johnny Labey)

Max Bowden before EastEnders

Before he arrived in Walford, Max was probably best known for playing Justin Fitzgerald in the tenth season of Waterloo Road in 2014. Justin was the rebellious son of Waterloo Road’s headteacher, Vaughan Fitzgerald (played by Neil Pearson).

Max also had small parts in Casualty and Doctors, and back when he was nine he appeared in pantomime – alongside Steve McFadden, who plays his on-screen dad Phil Mitchell in EastEnders.

Whitney realised Callum was in love with Ben (Credit: BBC)

Max’s biggest storylines as Ben Mitchell in EastEnders

When Max took over the role, Ben was still heartbroken after his fiancé Paul Coker had been murdered in 2016. But on his return to Albert Square, Ben began to heal and he found himself falling in love with Callum Highway.

The only trouble was, Callum was engaged to Whitney Dean!

Before the wedding, Whit found out that Ben and Callum had shared a passionate encounter. Despite that, though, she still went through with the wedding – even as her mum Bianca begged her not to. But Whitney broke down during the vows and called the whole thing off. She and Callum shared a heart to heart and the pair left their romance behind them – somehow managing to stay friends.

Ben and Callum decided to make a go of things and they eventually walked down the aisle in 2021.


Despite Ben and Callum’s romance, Ben’s time in Walford as played by Max Bowden, wasn’t a happy one. In 2022, Ben met Lewis – a bar man at the Prince Albert. He and Lewis hit it off and even shared a brief kiss. But later when Ben changed his mind about sleeping with Lewis, he didn’t take no for an answer. Lewis raped Ben, though of course he denied it.

Ben struggled to cope and he and Callum split for a while. Thankfully Ben eventually told Callum everything and they reconciled – and Lewis was treated to some Mitchell justice (and a bit of normal justice too when he was arrested for raping someone else).

Ben has also had to deal with an eating disorder and the death of Lola – the mother of his daughter, Lexi – over recent years.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Max Bowden (@bowden5)

Why did Max Bowden leave EastEnders?

Max’s contract came to an end and bosses at EastEnders decided not to renew amid rumours that they weren’t happy about the actor’s private life hitting the headlines.

“There has been a lot of noise around him for a bit too long and that can take away from the drama on the show,” a source told The Sun, back in January. “He went in for a meeting as his contract was up for renewal next year. No one knew how it was going to go and following discussions, it was decided that he would leave.”

Meanwhile, a BBC spokesperson said: “We wish him all the best for the future.”

Max’s love life got a bit messy when he began dating Shona McGarty, who plays Whitney Dean. The pair shared loved-up social media posts showing them together back in the summer of 2022.

At the time, though, Max’s ex partner Roisin Buckle, 38, was pregnant. She’s since given birth to a little boy, called Reginald, in September 2022.

Max and Shona’s whirlwind romance ended after six months and since then it’s been rumoured that he had a fling with Love Island star Olivia Hawkins.

Will Ben be recast?

Ben is what known as a ‘legacy character’ in soap circles – a member of the most important soap families. Since his on-screen birth back in 1996, he’s been played by six different actors. Following his exit, fans are pretty sure Ben will return one day – with another new face!

What’s Max doing next?

Back in 2016, Max played a young soldier called Tipper in the stage adaptation of Sebastian Faulkes’s novel, Birdsong. Now he’s joining the cast of the play once more, this time playing Jack Firebrace.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Max Bowden (@bowden5)

Read more: Who is leaving EastEnders this year?

YouTube video player

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

For all the latest soap spoilers, news and chat come and join us at Soap Daily now! 

Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and let us know what you think.

Kerry Barrett
Freelance Soap Writer