Parents of knife crime victims share stories in special EastEnders episode
The parents of young victims of knife crime will deliver powerful accounts about losing their loved ones in a special episode of EastEnders on Friday.
George Kinsella, the father of 16-year-old Ben Kinsella, will detail how his son was stabbed 11 times after a night out with friends in 2008.
It will be shown in between scenes from the funeral of fictional character Shakil Kazemi, who was stabbed to death by a gang in an episode in May.
Ben’s half-sister Brooke, who played Kelly Taylor in the soap, has become an anti-knife crime campaigner and advised on the long-running storyline, which saw Keegan Baker (Zack Morris) and Shakil (Shaheen Jafargholi) became victims of a brutal knife attack after Keegan stole a bike.
EastEnders’ boss John Yorke, who returned to the show last year, said: “Perhaps because of our relationship with Brooke Kinsella, the subject has always felt very close to the show’s heart and so when we decided to tackle it she and her father were the very first people we spoke to to get their blessing.
“They were incredibly open and in turn opened us up to a whole new world of which we thought we knew something and realised we knew nothing.
“So through them we met the most extraordinary people and we wanted to get the show right, we wanted to get it absolutely accurate.
“It’s a tricky subject to do and easy to get wrong and so we talked to the people they recommended, and we kept talking, and the more we talked something really fascinating started to evolve, which was an idea that these stories were so powerful by themselves that really everyone just needed to hear those stories.”
Also sharing her story in the episode is Pastor Lorraine Jones, whose son, Dwayne Simpson, 20, was stabbed to death in a Brixton park in 2014, and Yvonne Lawson, whose son, Godwin, was 17 when he was killed in 2010 as he tried to protect his friend from an attack.
Jessica Plummer, whose son Shaquan Sammy-Plummer, 17, was knifed in the chest after he was chased down the street in 2015, breaks down in tears in front of the camera as she speaks of how much she wants her son back.
The episode comes as concerns are raised about rising levels of violence both in the capital and nationally.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, who has dealt with violent crime for around the past decade, has said weapons such as zombie knives, hunting knives and machetes are being used more often and gangs of attackers are inflicting worse injuries on victims than five years ago.
Also featured in the episode is Angela Spencer, the mother of 17-year old Jason Spencer, and his stepfather, John Greensmith; as well as Paul Dove and Tanya Whitney, the parents of Billy Dove, 21; Caroline Shearer, the mother of 17-year-old Jay Whiston; and Trish Bergan, the mother of 21-year-old Jerome Eugene Bergan.
The episode will air on BBC One on Friday July 6 at 9.15pm.