EastEnders fans were left in tears last night over the stillbirth storyline. The episode continued from Friday night’s, which also had the same effect. The storyline is set to continue with the baby’s funeral, and then, one character possibly leaving Albert Square for good.
Fans of the British soap opera were warned in advance about the storyline. Rakhee Thakrar discussed it on daytime talk show This Morning and explained that she had been working closely with the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity (SANDS). She wanted to make the acting as realistic as possible, and The Daily Mirror reports that she received praise from EastEnders viewers on Friday night.
During Friday’s episode, her character Shabnam finally visited the hospital after realizing that she had not felt movement from her baby in a while. With her dad by her side and then her fiancé Kush, she found out that her baby had died, and she would have to give birth to it. Shabnam decided there and then to get it over and done with and went back to the hospital during Monday’s episode, where she gave birth to a stillborn baby boy.
Viewers reacted strongly to the episode, with many taking to social media to say they were in tears. While most praised Thakrar’s acting, others said that the entire cast involved needed praising. Each character showed a different way of grieving, with Kush almost not being there for the birth. Before the contractions started, he left the room because it was too much to handle. It took his future father-in-law Masood’s talk to coax him back inside just in time. Later, Kush gets his chance to say goodbye to his son, closing out the episode.
#eastenders dealt with tonight’s storyline (still birth) beautifully. Heartbreaking and wonderfully acted. 💔
— Emily (@auntybabes) September 1, 2015
Tonight’s #eastenders has to have been one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever watched on TV!
— Niamh McGowan (@_niamhmcgowan_) September 1, 2015
The Huffington Post reports that the producers of EastEnders wanted to handle the storyline as realistically and as sensitively as possible. They worked with SANDS to ensure all emotions were shown and to ensure the episodes after the stillbirth would be handled appropriately. The soap opera is usually known for its silly storylines. This has been one of the most serious in many years and was a gamble.
Just catching #EastEnders. Absolutely amazing acting in tackling such an emotive subject. Heart goes out to anyone who’s gone through this.
— Carl Hartley (@itscarlhartley) September 1, 2015
My heart truly goes out to the people that have gone through what Shabs & Kush have in real life. #Eastenders
— ❥ℓeαnne (@ItsALoveLeaLife) August 31, 2015
The storyline has been an important one to do. SANDS says that stillbirth is still common, and expectant parents need to be aware of it. There are many who want to remind pregnant women to “count the kicks” and call their midwife if they suspect anything is wrong. The charity helplines are open for people to call following the EastEnders episodes.