A grieving Kush will be left reeling on next week’s EastEnders when his mum Carmel refuses to get involved in making plans for Shakil’s funeral. With Carmel ploughing all her energies into the opening of her youth club project, it’s left to Kush to organise the service. But on the day of the funeral itself, the Kazemi family’s matriarch goes missing – can she be found in time? Or will she miss the last chance to say goodbye to Shakil? Here, actor Davood Ghadami reveals all about next week’s drama as well as EastEnders’s plans to include the true-life testimony of those affected by knife crime within the funeral episode…
So, how is Kush feeling ahead of the funeral? Kush’s main focus since the death of his brother has been his mum. As much as it’s a distraction for Kush, he’s concerned that she’s not coping well and tries to put all his efforts into making sure the funeral is well prepared, for her benefit as much as anyone else’s.
Can you talk us through how Kush is feeling about Carmel not planning the funeral?
He can’t hide his disappointment in Carmel for not wanting to plan Shaki’s funeral. Kush feels the pressure to arrange all the most important and individual aspects of the funeral and he feels that’s something his mum should want to do for her son. Although he’s sympathetic to her emotional state he can’t help but feel frustrated.
How has it been to be involved in this storyline? As an actor, it’s great. The fact that this subject is so current and so relevant adds another dimension, and allows us to create something really meaningful. Knife crime is a problem across the UK and in particular, London. I think EastEnders has been bold in showing this horrifying issue manifesting itself in Walford. It has helped me understand, and hopefully the viewers at home too, the devastating effect that knife crime has on the friends and families of those often young boys and girls. It has certainly had a huge impact on me.
How did you react when you heard about it? With stabbings being on the news almost daily I knew it would be relevant, but I hadn’t anticipated its emotional impact until I read the episodes. Everyone went to great depths when preparing for and filming this storyline. Everyone involved in this storyline felt a sense of great responsibility. It needed to be told with honesty and care as this story is a reality for far too many people.
Did you do any research? Sadly, knife crime is so ‘front and centre’ in the news that you didn’t have to look far to gain an insight into what is happening. The facts and figures are one aspect of the research, and it horrified me to see how much more common knife crime had become. I also researched individual stories for an insight into what happened and the events leading up to the tragic event.
Is there anything you hope the story can achieve? There’s no doubt that shows like EastEnders can have a real impact and although knife crime is a very complex problem, the awareness this story can raise is a helpful step. If it can help shed light on the problem, allow families and friends to discuss it, or even make someone think twice before picking up a knife then it has been worthwhile.
How was it to say goodbye to Shaheen Jafargholi? Shaheen is one of the nicest young men I’ve ever met! To work with him was always a pleasure, so it was sad to say goodbye. He’s extremely talented, so I know he’ll be busy. I just hope he doesn’t forget his big bro!
How did you feel when you heard about EastEnders including these real-life stories from people whose lives have been affected by knife crime? My initial thought was that it was a very bold and incredibly brave thing for EastEnders and especially the contributors to be doing. I have never heard of anything like this being done before, so I was intrigued to see how it would play out.
Do you think it’s an important thing for EastEnders to do? EastEnders has done something extraordinary in this episode. It’s important not just because it will be memorable and different, but because it shows for the first time a direct connection and comparison between our stories and peoples’ realities.
How was it filming with the relatives? It was an unforgettable experience hearing them talk about their loved ones and by the end of the day I think we all felt that what we were doing with these episodes was something remarkable.
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