EastEnders writers have teamed up with Comic Relief for a series of episodes tackling issues around teenagers and gangs.
In a storyline to transmit next month, viewers will see Bianca Butcher, played by Patsy Palmer, at her wit’s end when she starts to lose control of her 14-year-old son Liam as he gets caught up in a gang.
The BBC said the storyline was carefully researched by Comic Relief and the EastEnders team to ensure it reflects the problems faced by young people today, looking at why teenagers become involved in gangs and the devastating effects the culture can have on so many lives.
Lorraine Newman, EastEnders executive producer, said: “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, of Comic Relief, said: “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 ground-breaking 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.”
The storyline will start on screen next month and will include a six-minute episode to be featured as part of Comic Relief night on Friday, March 15 on BBC One.