EastEnders viewers were stunned after watching Bex Fowler being subjected to a vicious attack by bullies.
While Louise Mitchell stood watch outside the toilets, Madison and Alexandra began hitting Bex.
“You are a dirty, little…” they screamed, ripping open Bex’s shirt and writing “dirty” on her forehead in permanent market.
Even Jasmine Armfield, the actress who plays Bex, found it emotional. “Poor Bex,” she wrote on Twitter, alongside three emojis of a crying face.
It's real and it does happen
— Jasmine Armfield (@jasarmfield) March 17, 2017
Tilly Keeper, who plays Bex’s frenemy Louise Mitchell, wrote: “I just want to cuddle Bex @jasarmfield #EastEnders”
Both the acting and hard-hitting storyline won praise from viewers.
“So overwhelmed by all the lovely comments tonight,” wrote Jasmine. “I can’t think you all enough. Truly means so much.”
Viewers were on tenterhooks until Bex was found by a teacher. She was terrified, and worried about naming her bullies. “I don’t want to make things worse,” she said.
Bex finally decided to tell the truth about what had led to the attack. She had previously been accused of sending out a nude photo of Shakil Kazeemi, when it was Louise who had taken the image from her phone and sent it to Alexandra and Madison.
“Alexandra and Madison, they did this,” she said, before revealing Louise’s part in it too.
“Well done Bex for naming and shaming,” wrote one fan on Twitter. “This storyline is highlighting a very 'real' issue and raising much needed awareness. #eastenders.”
Another added: “Bex shouldn't stay friends with Louise after this. She had one chance to make things right and she still didn't help her friend #EastEnders”
“I'm so glad bex told the truth,” said another Twitter fan. “What a horrible bunch of girls. & Louise is no friend at all letting them do it. #eastenders.”
Others were quick to add how the storyline mirrored real life.
“It's horrible to think that what just happened to bex happens to real people and that real people are cruel enough to do it. #EastEnders” wrote one fan.
Another wrote: "I really hope eastenders do the Bex storyline justice and raise awareness for bullying. It's real and it does happen.”
EastEnders tweeted a link to a website which had advice for anyone suffering abuse.
“If you've been affected by any of the issues in tonight's #EastEnders see what further resources are available,” they wrote.