The historical sexual abuse storyline will take Danny Dyer’s Mick Carter to “some dark places”, EastEnders boss Jon Sen has said.
The soap has worked with the Samaritans on a storyline in which the character will contemplate killing himself over sexual abuse that happened to him as a child.
His mental health has been affected by the return of his abuser Katy Lewis to Walford.
Mr Sen said: “We’ve obviously seen Mick’s battle since (his daughter) Frankie’s arrival on the Square and we’ve seen him grapple with the reawakened memories of his childhood abuse as he struggles to come to terms with that.
“Over new year we find him facing his demons properly for the first time in his life.
“We’ve known Mick Carter for many years and when we decided that there was something in his past that had led to his panic attacks and anxiety, we wanted to explore what that could be.
“Thinking back to his childhood in care and Mick being abandoned by Shirley (his mother) and left to fend for himself, and looking at what else might have happened during that time.
“It gave us a chance to look at the logic of why he might have repressed those childhood memories and so in visiting them, Mick is able to lift the lid on a whole wealth of pain and suffering that happened when he was 12.”
Simone Lahbib has joined the cast as Katy, and audiences will see the control she still exerts over him.
Mr Sen said: “Simone is brilliant at playing Katy because you suddenly see in her eyes that there’s levers of control she’s able to exploit so excellently.
“One of the most gripping things about it is depicting how an abuser is able to manipulate their victim as an adult, in similar ways to when they were groomed as a child.
“So when Mick really starts to find his footing with the memories from the past, Katy will of course do anything in her power to stop the truth from ever coming out.
“We knew that the abuse storyline would take Mick to some dark places and there’s a logical culmination to this storyline.
“Somebody who was unable to deal with his own suffering and wanting to put an end to the psychological pain of what happened to him, the memories become too much.
“So we spent a lot of time talking to Samaritans about suicidal thoughts and depression, particularly with regards to people who have suffered abuse, just to really explore the finer details and the truth of what those feelings would be.
“It was a real privilege to work with Samaritans, we were honoured when they said they would have their charity name in the piece itself, as that’s a real testament to how truthful and accurate we had been in telling the story.
“So that was a great reassurance to know that a charity with such an immense authority are standing alongside us in this episode.”