EastEnders spoilers follow.
EastEnders has welcomed a new character to Walford, with newcomer Frankie Lewis making her first appearance this week.
Viewers have been waiting for Frankie’s arrival ever since news of her casting was announced earlier in the year and she’ll be appearing in a handful of episodes over the coming months.
But what do we know about Frankie, who plays her and what part will she play in Ben’s story? Here’s a quick guide.
EastEnders Frankie – Who is Ben and Callum’s new friend?
Back in February, EastEnders announced plans to bring in newcomer Frankie as part of Ben Mitchell’s hearing-loss storyline.
Tonight’s scenes (May 19) will see Callum befriend Frankie after a chance encounter with her in the Square. Inspired by her energy and positivity, Callum will encourage her to meet with Ben – believing his boyfriend would benefit from her support.
Although Ben will be reluctant to accept Frankie’s friendship, she’ll see straight through his facade and urge him to not give up on life because of his hearing loss.
Digital Spy understands that while Frankie will appear in a number of upcoming episodes as she strikes up a tentative friendship with Ben. However, the story will now be playing out at a slower pace due to EastEnders’ reduced weekly schedule.
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EastEnders newcomer Frankie is played by actress Rose Ayling-Ellis, who joined the show for a stint earlier in the year. Rose is the BBC soap’s first ever deaf actress playing a deaf character.
Prior to joining EastEnders, Rose guest starred in Casualty back in 2015 and also played the role of Esther in BBC2 drama Summer of Rockets last year. Rose also has an impressive number of theatre credits under her belt.
Speaking about joining the show, Rosie said: “I am so excited to be joining the cast of EastEnders and I am equally proud to be one of the first deaf actresses to be part of this iconic soap. I can’t wait for everyone to meet Frankie!”
EastEnders spoilers – what’s to come for Frankie?
Frankie’s story will explore what it means to be deaf in the UK today and shine a spotlight on some of the experiences and challenges deaf people go through.
Despite an awkward meeting tonight, upcoming scenes will see Ben get back in contact with Frankie and the pair will eventually begin communicating using sign language, in a first for the soap.
As we’ll see, Frankie very much leans on and embraces the deaf community and she’ll be inspiring Ben to do the same. After they strike up a bond, Frankie will gradually help Ben come to terms with his hearing loss.
The story was initially pitched by script writer Charlie Swinbourne and EastEnders have been working closely with National Deaf Children’s Society to make sure it’s portrayed accurately.
“Being deaf myself I’ve always looked out for Ben Mitchell’s character because he was the one who wore hearing aids”, Charlie explained. “I wanted to explore how losing more of his hearing affects Ben, as well as how it makes him see the world — and his deaf identity.”
EastEnders spoilers – what else do we know about Ben’s story?
Having suffered additional hearing loss in the boat accident back in February, Ben was left devastated when his operation was postponed this week. Determined to regain some control, Ben will be focusing his efforts on pursuing a dangerous job with Phil, with the story set to culminate in groundbreaking scenes next month.
Last week, EastEnders announced plans to show an episode set entirely from Ben’s perspective. Viewers will experience limited audio levels and on-screen subtitles showing words and fractured sentences to reflect Ben’s hearing difficulties, highlighting the reality many deaf people in the UK experience today.
The episode will see Ben vow to prove that he’s still capable of helping Phil out with his dodgy dealings, but when things spiral out of control, it’s clear that he’s out of his depth.
Speaking about the special episode, EastEnders executive producer Jon Sen said:”The story of Ben’s struggle with his deafness has given us a gripping insight into his character. This special point of view episode is a ground-breaking episode unlike any other attempted in the history of EastEnders.”
EastEnders continues on Monday, May 25 at 8pm on BBC One.
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