Bonnie Langford is to exit EastEnders after three-and-a-half years playing Carmel Kazemi. The character of Carmel has recently been at the centre of a knife-crime storyline that saw her son Shakil lose his life after being fatally stabbed. The actress drew praise from viewers for her portrayal of the bereaved mum, but is now set to leave the BBC1 soap at the end of the year. Langford will next be seen starring in 42nd Street at London’s Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, where she’ll be starring as Dorothy Brock.
In a statement, she said: “I’ve had a wonderful three-and-a-half years at EastEnders and it’s been a privilege to be part of such an iconic show. My storyline has been such an incredible experience and I’m honoured to be part of something so powerful and poignant. However, I’ve known since the beginning of this storyline it would always lead to Carmel having to take a break from Walford.”
It is believed that the door will be left open for Langford to return to EastEnders, should she choose. It is also expected that Davood Ghadami will remain on the soap as Carmel’s son Kush after Langford’s exit.
Speaking recently, Langford discussed the decision by EastEnders to include real-life testimonies from those affected by knife crime during Shakil’s funeral: “It was a jump into the unknown. When they told me I found it intriguing and exciting, but it was a strange dividing line and I wondered how we would separate art from real life.
“Soaps try and follow reality as much as possible, and as actors we’re not trying to pretend that we’re preaching in any way. But to put in these special true-life contributors adds gravitas – we’re not sensationalising something that is so difficult. Let this speak for itself. There is nothing more truthful, honest and heartbreaking. And it’s done with integrity and authenticity.”
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