EastEnders: Carmel reports Stacey to social services, reveals Bonnie Langford

"She’s such a lioness and she would do anything to protect a child," says the Walford star

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A concerned Carmel Kazemi will call social services when she starts to suspect that Stacey Fowler is harming young Arthur. Upcoming episodes of EastEnders will see Carmel action after discovering bruises on Arthur’s arms. Having already witnessed Stacey getting stressed around her kids and with Arthur having only just been admitted to hospital after overdosing on his mum’s bi-polar medication, Carmel decides to give voice to her worries.

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But when the real reason for Arthur’s bruising becomes apparent, Carmel instantly regrets what she’s done. And with son Kush having  worked out her involvement, he’s soon insisting that Stacey be told the truth. With Stacey set to be visited by the authorities, will Carmel admit what she’s done? And what will be the repercussions of social services’ involvement? Here’s Bonnie Langford with her take on all the upcoming drama:

Why did Carmel take matters into her own hands regarding Arthur without speaking to Stacey or Martin first?
Partly through her own guilt of the past. Something has come back to haunt her and she has a knee-jerk reaction to events. Her actions, in her opinion, are in Arthur and Lily’s best interests. She’s such a lioness and she would do anything to protect a child. She also feels that, years ago, she let Kush down by not speaking out and this is her chance to put that right. But, as usual, her timing is back to front. Plus, the fact she’s worried that the situation is escalating very fast. In her defence, she also asked Lily what happened, but unfortunately, Lily has been a more than a little imaginative with the truth. Lily’s nose has been put out of joint at home, she’s looking for some attention and not realising this leads to Carmel taking action.

When Carmel spots the bruises on Arthur’s arms, is she automatically convinced that Stacey is responsible?
She doesn’t know what it is, but she knows that it’s not normal bruising and she’s very worried.  Carmel’s trying to help and she thinks that she’s being useful, but she should have checked her facts more.

Although, you can’t totally blame her – what if she was right?  To Carmel, each time she’s seen Stacey recently all the signs to her are that Stacey is not coping – Martin hasn’t been around and she’s without a support network and she saw Stacey lose her temper. So it looks to Carmel like she’s really struggling.  Something could be happening behind closed doors, so Carmel could be forgiven for her actions.

At what point does Carmel realise that she may be mistaken about Arthur’s injuries?
Almost immediately.  She and Kush are invited to dinner at Stacey and Martin’s and as early as that she realises she has made a huge mistake and tries to put it right, but it’s too late.

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How does Carmel end up taking Lily and Arthur to her home to look after them?
When social services are looking for family to have Lily and Arthur, she offers to take them as she feels it’s her way of helping to put things right. She hopes that once it’s clear that everybody’s fine and it is all a big misunderstanding, that will be the end of it but of course it’s not.  She wishes she could turn back time.

How does Kush find out that it was Carmel that made the call to social services and how does he react to the news?
Kush pops in to Carmel’s house when she’s not in and hears an answerphone message and works it out. It’s terrible because he doesn’t support her, but then he doesn’t know why she did it until she jogs his memory about an event in his childhood.

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How does Kush feel when Carmel tries to explain the reason behind why she called social services?
I don’t think Kush knows how to feel, but he still doesn’t think it was the right thing to have done and that she should have thought it through differently. Carmel tries to explain but all Kush seems to register is that Carmel has always been worried about Stacey being pregnant again. If someone had spoken out before she made that phone call everything would be different.

Is the risk of losing a blossoming friendship with Stacey too frightening to confess all?
It’s horrendous for her. She knows that it won’t turn out well as she would feel exactly the same in Stacey’s position. She completely empathises with Stacey and regrets what she has done. Being both a mother and an older woman, Carmel knows it’s not right to keep this from Stacey, but maybe this is not the best time to tell and who would benefit from sharing this information now? She’s made a mistake but coming clean now would not be best for anyone.

It looks like Carmel has more heartache to come…how is she so blind to Max’s true intentions?
She’s so blind, bless her! She does have a couple of moments where there’s a flicker of doubt, but she has no idea. It feels genuine as there are times that Max confides in her and not anyone else and he looks to her for support. She’s got such empathy for anyone’s heartache. She loves to think people see her as a source of support but of course her own support is now dwindling. Her best friend Denise is now seeing her son, which she had terrible problems accepting and has meant that she can’t quite go to Denise as much as she used to. She can’t really confide in Kush as he’s made his thoughts very clear. She’s a bit isolated, so she sees Max as this wonderful outlet, especially at a time when she’s upset about her divorce finalising. She feels that she has nobody so she’s very vulnerable and not looking for problems in their relationship.

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How do you think she will cope with likely heartbreak when she finally realises that Max has been using her?
I think she’ll absolutely fall apart, but I hope that she rises from the ashes like a phoenix and that her steely determination will pull her through.

This has been a busy time for Carmel. Do you enjoy the more dramatic scenes and what do they show about her character?
I absolutely love it. To get your teeth into a great storyline is just brilliant. It’s hard and sometimes you have to go to some dark places, but it’s great that you can show the different colours of a person. To some people Carmel is just this bright, bubbly, energetic woman, so it’s really revealing to get to see her behind closed doors, when she shows her really sensitive and vulnerable side. And then she fights back. She really does fight when she knows that something’s wrong. She spits feathers when she needs to – she’s not a doormat.

How do you switch off after filming such intense storylines and do the dramatic scenes affect you?
I just go home and be a mum! I have some chocolate and think ‘Wow, what was that?’. It can be draining doing those scenes as you have to be as authentic as you can. Sometimes that’s tough but at other times it can be really cathartic. It’s a lovely team here and it’s so exciting as an actor to get involved with something big.

I’m very lucky with my on-screen boys, they’re adorable and of course Davood’s doing Strictly, so I’m in heaven living vicariously through him. I’m so excited! I’m supporting him 100 per cent and I’ll go down there with some ibuprofen and ice packs! I can see he’s throwing himself into it. I’m finally being a dance mum!

You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of EastEnders below

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