EastEnders never shies away from hard-hitting issues and this week sees one of the show’s most emotional storylines in its 30-year history.
On Friday we saw Shabnam and Kush (superbly played by Rakhee Thakrar and Davood Ghadami) learn the devastating news that their unborn baby has died. During last night’s episode Shabnam gave birth to her son.
The EastEnders team worked “extremely closely” with Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, to make sure the story was “portrayed as truthfully as possible,” said the official EastEnders blog on the BBC website.
Erica Stewart, Bereavement Support Services Manager at Sands, spoke about working with EastEnders on the storyline: “[Stillbirth] is a devastating experience, but still a story that needs telling, and so we at Sands were very pleased when EastEnders approached us to tell us they were tackling this sensitive and difficult subject and ask for our help and guidance.”
“Stillbirth is sadly nowhere near as rare as people think. In 2013, one in 216 pregnancies ended in stillbirth, that’s around 10 every day, and in total over 5,700 babies died before, during, or soon after birth,” she continued. “[This is] a huge opportunity to lift the taboo around baby death, and give viewers a glimpse of what parents experience even before they leave hospital without their baby.”
Following last night’s episode fans of the soap took to Twitter to praise the cast and crew. The scenes in which Shabnam and Kush each said goodbye to their son were particularly heart-wrenching and powerful.
My heart breaks for every parent who ever has to say goodbye to there child before they even got to say Hello. Amazing acting #eastenders
— 𝒦𝒶𝓉𝑒 𝐹𝑜𝓁𝑒𝓎 (@KateFoley_X) August 31, 2015
— Anna Acton (@acton_anna) August 31, 2015
— Ryan Swain (@RyanSwainTV) August 31, 2015
'Soap isn't real acting' Think #EastEnders just disproved that once more.
— Duncan Lindsay (@DuncanLindsay) August 31, 2015
Before Friday’s episode aired Rakhee reiterated the team’s reasons for taking on the storyline, explaining: “I really hope this shows that there really is no harm in expectant mothers picking up their phone and calling their midwife if they are concerned. This is the message we are trying to get across.”
EastEnders continues on Thursday, Sept. 3 at 7:30 p.m.