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There’s an enormous EastEnders storyline coming up – and, as rumoured, it will involve the horrific murder of one of the cast’s most popular characters.
Teenager Shakil Kazemi will be knifed to death in a gritty stabbing and laid to rest in a heartbreaking funeral, and what looks like the whole of Watford will come to pay their respects – including Kat Slater.
Jessie Wallace, the actress who plays the not-dead-yet Kat, was spotted on set wearing a thick black coat and bright pink fringed ankle boots, clutching a black bag as she made her way out of the church service.
A besuited Davood Ghadami – who plays Shakil’s brother Kush Kazemi – looked distraught as he was pictured next to the black hearse containing the simple wooden coffin, which lies decorated with fresh flowers.
Last month, rumours swirled around Shakil’s future when he wasn’t seen in pictures of upcoming storylines.
At the time, a source told the Daily Star of rumours that he could be attacked.
"Producers are having a big clear-out, waving goodbye to some massive characters to make sure the show feels fresh," said the insider.
"No firm decisions have been made but it’s highly possible Shakil’s attack could be a big part of his exit storyline."
The stabbing comes as part of a storyline paying tribute to the late Ben Kinsella.
Ben was stabbed to death on London streets back in 2008, and his sister Brooke Kinsella – who used to be on EastEnders herself – has worked tirelessly ever since to campaign against knife crime.
Brooke worked with the soap’s producers on Shakil’s plotline and recently revealed: "It is now 10 years since we lost Ben to this horrific crime and it is impossible to put into words how Ben’s murder has affected my family.
"The pain of Ben’s loss will never go away, there isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t think about him and miss him."
She went on: "I commend the EastEnders team for choosing this storyline to portray the realities of knife crime.
"With knife crime on the increase it is vitally important that we help people understand its lasting impact. Carrying a knife won’t protect you, it won’t give you status, harming or stabbing someone isn’t a trivial act. It simply destroys lives forever.
"We need to do more to help people understand this, especially young people."
Brooke continued: "That’s why my family and I set up the Ben Kinsella Trust to help educate young people away from knife crime. I believe that this storyline will bring home the realities of knife crime to a wider audience and show how it damages the lives of victims, offenders, their families and friends forever."
Also in attendance on the EastEnders set were Martin Fowler (played by James Bye) and Robbie Jackson (Dean Gaffney), who appeared to be mourning their late neighbour.
They were joined by Keegan Baker (Zack Morris), Shakil’s best friend, who is heavily involved in the stabbing attack.
Other characters including Big Mo (Laila Morse), Patrick Trueman (Rudolph Walker), Jean Slater (Gillian Wright), Kim Fox (Tameka Empson), Keegan Baker (Zack Morris) and Karen Taylor (Lorraine Stanley) were all there to say their final goodbyes to Shakil.
It’s thought Shaheen Jafargholi, who plays Shakil, wishes to return to music now he’s wrapped his final scenes in EastEnders,
The talented actor, 21, first experienced fame at the age of 12 when he appeared on Britain’s Got Talent to sing.
He still counts singing as one of his favourite side projects.
In recent months, Albert Square has been a dramatic clear-out of older characters.
Lee Ryan, Jenna Russell, Maggie Steed and Richard Blackwood have all departed the soap, on the tails of Jacqueline Jossa and Lorna Fitzgerald.
And it’s expected the axe will be swinging again soon as producers look to shake up the show.
*EastEnders continues Monday at 8pm on BBC1.
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