Here's why EastEnders isn't on tonight

Note: This story discusses topics including sexual assault.

EastEnders spoilers follow

EastEnders fans won't be treated to their usual dose of Walford action later on as there is no episode this evening (April 18).

Viewers tuning into BBC One at 7.30pm will find an episode of Garden Rescue airing in the show’s usual timeslot.

That's because last night’s EastEnders episode (April 17) was extended to an hour, instead of the usual 30 minutes.

elaine peacock, yolande trueman, eastenders

This was an editorial decision, as opposed to a forced schedule change, to allow Yolande Trueman's devastating story to play out properly.

As previously announced, the BBC soap's hour-long special saw Pastor Clayton sexually assault Yolande at the church fundraiser.

EastEnders broke away from its usual format for the harrowing scenes, as it became clear that this was not Pastor Clayton's first offence.

yolande trueman, pastor clayton, eastenders

Through flashback scenes, viewers were shown how Pastor Clayton had been sexually assaulting women over several decades.

In the present day, Elaine urged a traumatised Yolande to report the crime to the police.

Yolande was fiercely against this, unable to face the trauma of reliving the ordeal again and having everyone know what happened.

She also shared her concern for her partner Patrick, insisting she wanted to enjoy the time they had left without the burden of this on their relationship.

yolande trueman, patrick trueman, eastenders

Discussing the story, Angela Wynter – who plays Yolande – said: "There are many people who are being abused, and they are not able to speak up because those doing the abusing are in positions of power.

"When that happens, many people fear they won't be believed, that they'll lose their job or status, or feel naïve or embarrassed, so they don't speak up. As an actor, I tell stories, and I felt I could tell this story and put a spotlight on this issue."

EastEnders will return to screens on Monday, April 22 at 7.30pm, with the early-release episode dropping on BBC iPlayer in the morning as usual.

EastEnders airs on Mondays - Thursdays at 7.30pm on BBC One. The show also streams on BBC iPlayer, where most episodes drop early at 6am ahead of their TV broadcast.

Read more EastEnders spoilers on our dedicated homepage

EastEnders has been working on Yolande's story with guidance from End Violence Against Women Coalition and Hourglass, which provides specialist services and resources for women of all ages and backgrounds, who have experienced any form of violence.

More information is available from Rape Crisis England and Wales, who work towards the elimination of all forms of sexual violence and sexual misconduct, on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland’s helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.

Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.

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