Friday’s instalment of the soap will feature accounts from real life people affected by knife crime

EastEnders boss John Yorke has spoken about his decision to merge the worlds of fiction and reality in this Friday’s episode, centring on the funeral of Shakil Kazemi.

Teenager Shakil (Shaheen Jafargholi) was knifed to death in a revenge attack in May, after best friend Keegan Baker (Zack Morris) stole a bike from a local gang. The EastEnders production team worked with former cast member Brooke Kinsella on the storyline, whose brother Ben was stabbed to death on a night out in 2008, aged 16.

Denise comforts Carmel

Denise comforts Carmel

Friday’s instalment of EastEnders, in which Shakil is laid to rest, will see real life victims of knife crime talking to camera; sharing their tragic stories of losing their loved ones, and the impact it has had on their lives.

Carmel sheds tears at Shakil's funeral

Carmel sheds tears at Shakil’s funeral

Says show boss John: “When we decided to tackle the issue (of knife crime), Brooke and her father were the very first people we spoke to, to get their blessing. They were incredibly open, and opened us up to a whole new world which we thought we knew something about, but in fact knew nothing.

“Through them, we met the most extraordinary people. We talked to these people, and the more we talked, something fascinating started to evolve; an idea that these stories were so powerful by themselves that everyone need to hear those stories, too.

“It’s unique for EastEnders, which is real people telling their stories alongside our fictional characters. It’s been a difficult exercise to get right, but we hope the families feel that we have.”

Friday’s ground-breaking episode will air on BBC1 at 9.15pm, after coverage of the World Cup quarter final match between Brazil and Belgium.