Gang culture is to come under the spotlight on EastEnders as the show works with Comic Relief for a series of episodes tackling the issue.
Next month, viewers will see Bianca Butcher (Patsy Palmer) grow distressed by 14-year-old son Liam’s (James Forde) involvement with a teenage gang. The BBC said that the storyline was carefully researched and planned by Comic Relief and the team at EastEnders so that it accurately reflected the problems of young people today and explored why teenagers become involved in gangs.
This is not the first time that EastEnders and Comic Relief have teamed up: in 2011, they collaborated on a storyline that saw Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty) become the victim of sex exploitation.
Lorraine Newman, executive producer at EastEnders, said of the gang-related plot: "This subject matter is something which is touching the lives of so many young people in London and other cities around the UK. We have taken the opportunity to see the impact from a mother's perspective and Patsy Palmer gives a powerful performance of a mother doing all she can to protect her son. The telling of this story has also given us the chance to explore the reasons behind the attraction of gangs for teenagers."
Judith McNeill, Grants Director for Comic Relief added: "Comic Relief is really excited to be working with EastEnders again to highlight an important issue supported by Red Nose Day. In 2011, Comic Relief put EastEnders in touch with young people who had been sexually exploited so that the reality of this horrific form of abuse could be accurately portrayed. The groundbreaking storyline was important in lifting the lid on a hidden issue and significantly raised the profile of the issue of young people and sexual exploitation across the UK. This year’s storyline should play an equally important role in promoting greater understanding of why young people are vulnerable to becoming involved in gangs."
Viewers will see the storyline unfold on the soap from next month, with a six-minute episode to feature as part Comic Relief night on Friday 15 March on BBC1.