Another Walford resident will fall victim to rapist Dean Wicks before Christmas with the character set to attack again. Actor Matt DiAngelo and the BBC are said to be working with Rape Crisis in order to ensure the distressing storyline is handled sensitively.
In October 2014, viewers watched difficult scenes as Dean sexually assaulted his sister-in-law and Queen Vic landlady Linda Carter, played by Kellie Bright. According to the Mirror, Dean will attempt to rape his girlfriend Roxy Mitchell, portrayed by Rita Simons, after months of the character growing physically and mentally abusive towards her. In one episode, the hairdresser burnt Roxy's neck with a pair of hair straighteners and on another occasion cut a large piece out of her hair.
It is believed the new rape storyline will air ahead of or around the time of Linda's wedding to long-time partner Mick Carter, played by Danny Dyer, on New Year's Day (1 January 2016). The BBC is being careful to give justice to the story and is working alongside a rape support group.
A spokesperson said of the difficult subject matter: "EastEnders has covered every other conceivable issue. If sexual violence or rape was the only big topic EastEnders never approached, it would reinforce the idea sexual violence is unspeakable. Because people relate to soaps they can have a social impact and make people feel less alone or encourage them to come forward and seek support for the first time."
Watch EastEnders' autumn 2015 trailer:
It was previously revealed that DiAngelo would be leaving the BBC1 soap over the Christmas period and executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins has promised viewers the character will receive his comeuppance beforehand. He said: "There is justice. And how it's meted out will be satisfying but shocking too. We're giving nothing away but there's lots more drama to come."
After a six-year absence, DiAngelo returned to the award-winning soap in 2014 when the character reunited with his estranged mother, Shirley Carter. Dean was involved in another explosive storyline when it was revealed Shirley is also the mother, not the sister, of Mick. With the help of Shirley and his father Buster, Dean is currently trying to win custody of Jade, the daughter he shares with Shabnam Masood but was given up for adoption at birth.
At the time of his return to EastEnders, DiAngelo said of his future on the soap: "Getting back to auditioning and flying back and forth to America, not knowing where your next job will be, isn't the most fun way to live. I am not sure what is ahead for me, I am just cracking on, keeping my head down and enjoying the fact that we are doing some good work here." A source said of his departure: "Matt's exit will be explosive. Viewers are in for a nail-biting treat."
Rape Crisis is a charity which seeks to promote the needs and rights of women and girls who have experienced sexual violence. For details on the organisation, visit their website or contact their helpline on 0808 802 9999.