EastEnders has won yet more awards. The BBC soap scooped five gongs at this year's Inside Soap Awards in London
One long-standing theme on EastEnders has been about the sexuality of Ben Mitchell. Is he gay or straight? Forget bi - this is a soap, after all.
In the latest episodes it seems that Ben does have feelings for another boy called Duncan whom he met in the gym whilst attempting to man-up and keep his dad happy.
Patrick saw Ben kissing Duncan, and afterwards Ben glimpsed Patrick speaking to his dad. Without having heard the conversation, Ben wrongly assumed Patrick had told Phil about himself and Duncan kissing. Later Ben threw a rock through Patrick's window.
Ben is a truly unlikeable character, but as there are no LGB characters in BBC children's dramas, he's the only gay role model many kids will see on TV. This soap will not make things easier for kids struggling with their sexuality - and although Phil may possibly accept Ben in the future, it's what's happening now that's important. And toying with the issues of sexuality and homophobia for entertainment is distasteful.
Here - as an example - is what happened right near the start of yesterday's EastEnders:-
Phil approached his son in Albert Square and asked him what happened there - referring to the broken window in Patrick's house which is being replaced.
Ben: Dunno - kids probably
Phil: You was out early this morning. What - you off to the gym?
Ben: Yeah, thought I'd get an hour and a half in before school
Phil: What, with Duncan?
(Ben looks away)
Phil: Listen Ben, er ...
Phil: .... I know
(another long pause)
Phil: ...know about yesterday
Phil: You can't keep skipping school like this
(Ben breathes huge sigh of relief)