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Max Bowden learning sign language amid Ben's hearing storyline

Max Bowden learning sign language amid Ben's hearing storyline
© BBC
EastEnders star Max Bowden reveals that he is learning British Sign Language during the coronavirus lockdown as Ben's hearing issues take centre stage in a special episode of the soap.

EastEnders actor Max Bowden has revealed that he is learning British Sign Language (BSL) to help him with his current storyline on the soap.

Since the Thames boat crash in February, Ben has been struggling with hearing loss in a storyline that will be front and centre next week in a special 'POV' episode.

With filming on EastEnders having been shut down since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bowden has been using his time productively to master BSL.

"It's interesting because it's a totally new way of communication for me but what's been amazing is watching how expressive BSL is," he said.

"Rose (Ayling-Ellis, aka Frankie) has a BSL interpreter on set at all times and to seeing how they communicate with each other is amazing to me. That's the whole point about it, I guess. The only difference between the deaf community and the hearing is that they're lacking one sense - it's made up for in other ways.

"Gestures are a lot stronger if something is meant with more vigour, as an example, so that's been fascinating."

Bowden went on to admit that he is itching to start shooting new episodes next month, adding: "I can't wait to get back to filming! If Ben is doing handstands in the front room, I don't care - I just want be back! We're a family on set so I'm looking forward to seeing everyone again."

The special episode of EastEnders airs next Monday night at 8.10pm on BBC One.

> Click here to browse pictures from next week's episodes of EastEnders

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Max Bowden as Ben Mitchell in EastEnders
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