EastEnders characters have done some pretty terrible things over the years but Steven Beale really was the lowest of the low when he used a scan of a real brain tumour to blackmail Lauren Branning into staying with him.
Viewers were disgusted when he lied about suffering cancer to stop her from leaving the country.
He has plotted with Lauren’s sister, Abi Branning, to use a scan of a dog’s tumour in order to back up his lie, and the sheer evilness of the ploy shocked and repulsed viewers who could not believe what they were watching.
Fans of the BBC soap called the storyline “sick and twisted”, questioning how the broadcaster could air something that showed such “complete disregard for the millions suffering the reality”.
It’s reminiscent of 1986 when Angie Watts conned her husband Den that she had six months to live to keep him by her side.
During a heart-to heart with Lauren, Steven pretended to be shaken and pulled the scan of the dog’s brain from an envelope to show to her, and she instantly said she’d stay and support him.
He said: “I know it’s frightening but at least I’m not going through this alone.”
Abi is part of the cruel trick too. She got with Steven and helped him with the whole horrible plan.
Together, they have decided to go into some seriously twisted detail so fans of the drama will need to prepare for some tough viewing.
They’re going to fake appointments and treatments, with Abi stealing the scan of a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel from work.
Steven said: “Just as she thinks the tumour is shrinking, Ill leave her to be with you.
“If this is going to work, if we want to be together, we have to make this lie as convincing as possible. Research appointments and treatments, whatever it takes to make Lauren believe us.”
It sounds like a good old-fashioned twisted soap plot, but EastEnders viewers were not impressed.
One tweeted: “Very poor storyline this from EastEnders – complete disregard for the millions suffering the reality #EastEnders”
Another added: “This storyline is getting way too out of hand and too sick and twisted #EastEnders”
A third, who doesn’t understand how TV drama works, said: “@bbceastenders having not watched for a while, I am outraged at the fake brain tumour storyline – totally unnecessary #EastEnders ”
There was so much anger, the BBC will have to watch closely to make sure things don’t get out of hand. Soaps can make anything into a drama but clearly viewers think they might have gone too far with Steven faking cancer.
One said: “Wrong! Bad move! Lost more viewers! Who writes this!? Hope Lauren sees straight through it! Just put an end to this awful storyline!!!
Another added: “That was so [bleep] up, bad move EastEnders”
A third said: “What with the main news in the real world today, lying about cancer is beyond sick. Disgusting move.”