Why Callum Highway's criminal side in EastEnders makes complete sense

Callum Highway (Tony Clay) arrived in EastEnders in 2018 and none of us knew what a firm favourite of the show he would become. He wore his beanie hat and chequered shirts and was someone who Shirley (Linda Henry) enjoyed annoying a little too much.

The ex-army soldier has developed a lot over the short period he’s been living in Albert Square, and since the show returned in September, it’s safe to say we are seeing a side to Callum we haven’t seen enough of as he continues his new career path as PC Highway.

The matter of Callum being tricked by DI Thompson (Philip Wright) into going undercover to gather intel about Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) and his crimes has turned into a problem Callum will no doubt struggle to fix. After Thompson told Callum the so-called ‘undercover operation’ was fake, and now he has footage of Callum attacking Danny Hardcastle (Paul Usher), he’s got himself trapped.

With Callum also working with Phil, we’ve started to see a badder side to him, which has come as quite a shock to many viewers! Today’s version of Callum is a far cry from the beanie hat wearing Callum he used to be, but maybe the slightly dorky side to him was just a shield for hiding this part of him we are now seeing more of?

Let’s go back to the start of 2018, and Callum’s very first scene. We all remember it, right? It was the moment the van doors opened, Callum was on the other side and shot Mick Carter (Danny Dyer). The credits rolled and no one knew who Callum was at that point, let alone the person he would become.

More often than not, the opening scene will set the tone for who the new character is overall. Callum was involved in Aidan Maguire’s money crimes and shot Mick, but didn’t realise who it was at the time, and immediately helped him afterwards. Now when we look at Callum, and all that he’s been through, we see a running theme that he can often show his darker side to him, so where does it come from?

Suffice to say Callum’s childhood wasn’t the happiest it could’ve been. Thanks to the few times Callum and Stuart’s (Ricky Champ) dad Jonno (Richard Graham) visited the Square, we learnt the siblings had an unhappy upbringing, which has led them to both have emotional issues. We also know that Stuart regularly protected his brother from their dad’s awful temper, which means Callum has seen someone involved in violence for most of his life.

This negative home Callum and Stuart had also meant Callum has been brought up on learning that albeit totally the wrong thing to do, anger and fighting someone protects the person you love.

It isn’t just his childhood where Callum was in the company of conflict. Joining the army was what could’ve been seen as the perfect escapism from his unpleasant life, but in actual fact, the army is only recreating what Callum saw so much of – people at war with each other in order to defend someone.

Callum came out of the army quite quickly, so with no way of replicating his military ways, Callum has almost sub-consciously been repeating life in the army when he gets himself into fights. Callum without a doubt, wants to look out for the people close to him, it’s just who he is!

But what we are seeing more of is him protecting others – in the wrong way. Look at Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty) during her ordeal with stalker Leo King (Tom Wells), Callum punched Leo thinking it would help Whitney, but truth be told, it only made things worse (he got arrested for starters…), and now he’s discovered the truth about Thompson’s plan after attacking Danny because he thought it would keep Ben (Max Bowden) from harm, he’s going about keeping those closest to him safe in a way guaranteed to not end well.

Callum’s kidnap by Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters) back at the start of the year was a traumatic time for him. His opportunity to keep Ben safe was taken away from him and he was left battered and bruised in a dark and dirty warehouse.

It’s interesting to note that Callum hasn’t really had any time to react to his ordeal, he was found, and no sooner had he left the hospital, he was back to helping Ben, and not worrying about his problems.

It’s possible that coupled with his time in the army, and terrifying kidnapping, Callum is suffering from PTSD – a mental illness common for ex-army soldiers to develop. Callum would have so many internal feelings – the sadness feels after the death of his army friend, the anger he feels towards Keanu kidnapping him and never having the opportunity to confront him about it. Callum has never honestly spoken about these situations, which as many of us know – can create a bigger and worse impact the longer he keeps it all to himself.

We can’t write about Callum without mentioning Ben! Before the show went off air, Callum spent a lot of time doing what he does best – worrying about other people. He was desperate for Ben to stop involving himself in his dad’s dodgy crimes, and the disagreements they would have over it tested their relationship on several different occasions.

Lockdown with his dad has changed Ben, and has made him far more interested in Chinese food than his dad’s latest plan to get his hands on dodgy money! Callum, however, is becoming more and more involved with Phil and as Ben said in a recent episode, the ‘police business is starting to look a lot like Mitchell business’.

We know Callum is stuck between a rock and a hard place: he is trapped in Thompson’s clutches after attempting to save Ben from life behind bars, and he’s now working for Phil in order to protect his ‘faaaaaamily’. Who can he turn to for help? Who can he speak to about what he’s been involved in?


Callum isn’t a bad person, he’s kind and caring. He hasn’t changed as such, it’s just joining the police force and getting himself into bother has exploited his weaknesses and naivety. As told by his past, Callum’s mistakes make complete sense, his dark personality works.

Callum is blurring the lines with what is helpful and what is wrong, and we’ve got a strange feeling Callum’s situation is about to get a whole lot worse before it can start to get better.

But fundamentally, he is a character we will all root for – and who will strive to do the right thing by those important to him.

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