What has the reaction been to Kush and Shabnam’s traumatic storyline?
“It has been fantastic. People who have been through it have said it felt very real and that all comes from the research and the writing.”
Were you surprised when you heard the baby was going to be stillborn?
“Well Kush was the fun, banter man and suddenly the rug was pulled from under him. When they told me about the story, I knew it was something we would have to handle really carefully. We couldn’t afford to make the smallest of mistakes.”
It must have been difficult to film those emotional scenes?
“It was tough. Now that I am a father myself, the worse things in life are a million times worse. I have not experienced a stillbirth, but I understand what it is to be a father. How everyone expects a father to be strong even during a normal labour, yet you feel a certain sense of helplessness.”
Did you receive any advice on how to approach the storyline?
“We had a lot of help from Sands [a stillbirth and neonatal death charity]. They were on board from the beginning and guided us on everything from the medical aspects to putting us in touch with people who had lost their own babies. It is important for me to continue raising awareness.”
What on earth is Kush going to do if Stacey’s baby turns out to be his?
“I don’t know how he would react. Stacey was a rash decision and technically, he was on a ‘break’ from Shabnam. I’d like to think they have become a stronger couple after all they have been through. He wouldn’t want to throw that all away.”
Did you always want to become an actor?
“I was quite shy as a kid, I would be deadly quiet at the back of the classroom. Acting was my way of coming out of my shell. I studied it at school and then university. I did a post grad which lead me into the acting world, but I tried not to put too much pressure on myself.”
Are you enjoying being part of EastEnders?
“It’s exceeded my expectations. One of the real high points is having Bonnie Langford play my mother – she has such a positive influence both on and off the set. When I realised who Carmel was, I understood Kush a bit more. He surrounds himself with strong women, even in his one-night stand with Stacey.”
For more information on stillbirth and neonatal death, visit www.uk-sands.org.