Yes there’ll be tears aplenty, but there are so many reasons to tune in for Shakil’s funeral in EastEnders on Friday...

EastEnders has done something never attempted by a soap before… Its brave move is to include real people talking about their own traumas of losing a child to knife crime, similar to the fictional experience of grieving mum Carmel Kazemi in the horrendous aftermath of her son Shakil’s shock murder in the soap.

These real stories of knife attack victims are simply raw and overpowering, with mums and dads recalling the moment they were told about the senseless death of their sons (yes it was pretty much young lads who’d died from these knife attacks). They talk about what’s been taken from their lives, and the terrible impact it’s now had on their family. Viewers’ hearts will defintiely be going out to them.

Shakil EastEnders

Everyone is missing Shakil

What could have been a slightly jarring thing to do, did however fit into the flow of the funeral episode beautifully. Be prepared for a very emotional last five minutes as the real-life contributors mix with the characters in a very special way.

Some cast performances are just mesmerising. Bonnie Langford has been amazing as Carmel from the moment she arrived in Walford, but she’s taken Carmel to new levels since the knife attack murder of Shakil. She’s on top form once more as Carmel goes into total denial over the funeral. She’s so distraught she even goes missing and there’s the most heart-wrenching scene ever with her best friend Denise giving her sensible advice and consolation. Their hugs and tears are TV gold.

 

Denise comforts Carmel

Denise comforts Carmel

If you’ve ever given a eulogy at a funeral service you’d know what a daunting and gruelling experience this can be. It’s terrific that Keegan Baker steps up for the job and shares his wonderful memories of his best pal “Shaki”. Another wonderful  performance here from the very talented Zack Morris as Keegan even raises a smile in the congregation with a fun school memory of how Shakil tried to get out of an exam…

There are a few little gems to set you smiling too, not least the fashion faux pas of Kat Slater in bright red ankle boots, and her cousin Hayley dressing even more inappropriately. Kim has decided that a lime green blouse is acceptable attire. Jay looks pretty dapper in his top hat.

This worthwhile episode deserves recognition for what it’s attempting to do. Please give it a go…

* Shakil’s funeral will be on this Friday BBC1 at 9.10pm