Bonnie Langford felt "more responsible and determined" to portray EastEnders' knife crime storyline "accurately" after learning relatives of real-life victims would feature in the plot.

Carmel Kazemi at son Shaki's funeral

Carmel Kazemi at son Shaki's funeral

The 53-year-old star plays Carmel Kazemi, the mother of the late Shakil Kazemi (Shaheen Jafargholi), who was brutally stabbed to death in May, and Bonnie believes the addition of true stories to Shaki's funeral episode on Friday night (06.07.18) adds "real gravitas" to the hard-hitting storyline.

She told BANG Showbiz: "To put the special true-life contributors in there, I think adds real gravitas. To show we're not trying to sensationalise something so serious.

"Let it speak for itself, let these people tell you because there's nothing more truthful and heart-breaking to see than that. It's been done with so much authenticity and integrity.

"After meeting the people, I felt more responsible and determined to get this as accurate and emotionally meaningful as possible. I felt really honoured to be a part of it.

"It was a jump into the unknown. When they told me I found it intriguing and exciting, but it was a strange dividing line and I wondered how we would separate art from real life."

Davood Ghadami - who plays Shaki's brother Kush - admitted he and his 'EastEnders' co-stars were unaware quite how the ground-breaking move would play out in the soap.

He added: "There was a sense of excitement, we didn't know how it was going to be approached.

"There are formulas you follow as an actor which you're used to, but with this we weren't sure what to expect."

While some soap storylines seem to be hard-hitting in the moment of action but are then over quickly, Bonnie insisted Carmel and Kush's lives have now "changed forever" following Shaki's tragic death.

She added: "I wondered when the story first happened, whether when we did that mini gathering in the Square, it was going to be it.

"But then there's this huge funeral and the story then continues.

"Everyone else is getting on with their lives but these people are broken and will always be broken. Carmel has changed forever."

The special funeral episode airs on Friday (06.07.18) at 9:15pm.