Shaheen Jafargholi Lost Boys & Fairies

Shaheen Jafargholi: If he made the BGT final, why he sang at Michael Jackson’s memorial, his shock soap exit, and rumoured girlfriend

He came to fame in 2009 at the age of 12

Shaheen Jafargholi returns to our TV screens in the BBC One drama Lost Boys & Fairies, a three-part gay adoption drama landing this week.

Although he’s only 27, he’s actually been famous since he was a child, having made his name on Britain’s Got Talent back in 2009.

So did he make the final of the talent show? Why did he sing at Michael Jackson’s memorial, and who is his rumoured TV girlfriend? Here’s everything you need to know about the Welsh actor.

Shaheen Jafargholi as Shakil Kazemi in EastEnders
Shaheen Jafargholi as Shakil Kazemi in EastEnders (Credit: BBC One)

Who plays Celyn in Lost Boys & Fairies?

Shaheen Jafargholi portrays Celyn in the BBC One drama Lost Boys & Fairies. Celyn is a comedy performer at Neverland nightclub.

The drama “looks at the adoption process from a queer perspective”. Viewers will see Gabriel (Sion Daniel Young) and Andy (Fra Fee) embark on a moving journey of self-discovery involving painful childhood trauma.

Queer performance artist extraordinaire Gabriel and his partner Andy long to adopt a child. But Gabriel’s own history of childhood trauma threatens to completely derail the process.

As well as Shaheen Jafargholi, Sanditon actress Elizabeth Berrington portrays Jackie, Holby City‘s Sharon D. Clarke stars as Claire, and Kin’s Maria Doyle Kennedy plays Sandra.

What is Shaheen Jafargholi famous for?

Shaheen Jafargholi first found fame on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009. He received a standing ovation when he first performed in front of the audience and judges, singing Smokey Robinson’s Who’s Lovin’ You. He sang the song again during the final in May 2009.

Although he did phenomenally well on the talent show, he did not win the show. However, he finished in 6th place. Not bad at all for a pre-teen!

Before his BGT appearance, Shaheen had already starred in the BBC One drama Torchwood. He played Danny in an episode in 2006. The same year he appeared on BGT, he played Troy in the children’s TV show Grandpa in my Pocket.

He’s best known for playing Shakil Kazemi in EastEnders, a role he played from 2016 to 2018 (see more below). He went on to play cheeky emergency department nurse Matty Kirkby in both Holby City, and Casualty (from 2018 to 2023).

More recently, he’s played Billy Ahmadi in comedy horror Wreck series 1 and 2.

Shaheen Jafargholi in nurse scrubs as Matty in Casualty
Shaheen Jafargholi as Matty Kirkby in Casualty (Credit: BBC One)

How old was he when he appeared in Britain’s Got Talent?

Shaheen was just 12 when he first auditioned for BGT in 2009. His first audition song was a cover of the Amy Winehouse version of The Zutons song, Valerie. However, Simon Cowell being Simon Cowell, stopped him after two lines, delivering the crushing verdict “you’ve got this really wrong”.

After Simon asked him to sing another song, Shaheen sang Smokey Robinson’s Who’s Lovin’ You. He subsequently made the final, finishing sixth.

Thanks to his success on BGT, Shaheen was later signed to present a one-hour show on his local radio station Bay Radio. And the rest is history!

Who did Shaheen Jafargholi play in EastEnders?

Shaheen played Shakil Kazemi from 2016 until 2018 on the BBC One soap. The character was the son of Umar and Carmel Kazemi and brother of Kush and Darius. He became famous for his topknot hairstyle.

However, Shakil was killed off in an emotional exit in 2018 when he was stabbed by gang members. His best friend Keegan stole a bike from the gang and both boys ended up getting stabbed.

Luckily Keegan survived the attack, but Shakil died from his injuries. It remains one of the soap’s most devastating storylines ever, and  was aimed at tackling the knife crime epidemic in the UK.

His funeral broke with tradition by featuring interviews with the real life families of knife crime victims.

Shaheen Jafargholi aged 12 on BGT
Shaheen Jafargholi aged 12 on BGT (Credit: Ken McKay/Shutterstock)

Why did Shaheen sing at Michael Jackson’s memorial?

In what must have seemed like a minor miracle to the child singer, Shaheen Jafargholi was asked to sing at Michael Jackson’s memorial service in 2009, after his death in June of that year.

After performing on the Britain’s Got Talent tour, Shaheen sang a musical tribute of Who’s Lovin’ You on stage at the Los Angeles Staples Center.

On July 07 2009, he appeared on the globally televised funeral memorial service for Michael Jackson – and made history.

Shaheen Jafargholi subsequently toured on stage as a young Michael Jackson in Thriller – Live.

Shaheen Jafargholi performing at Michael Jackson's memorial
Shaheen Jafargholi performing at Michael Jackson’s memorial service at Staples Center in Los Angeles in 2009 (Credit: Shutterstock)

Who is Lost Boys & Fairies star Shaheen dating?

Although Shaheen has not publicly commented on his sexuality or his previous partners, he has been linked to a former co-star.

He and ex-EastEnders actress Tilly Keeper – who played Louise Mitchell – were often pictured looking very cosy with each other. However after fans branded them a “cute couple”, she insisted they were just friends.

Tilly set the record straight herself in an interview with OK! magazine. She said of her relationship with Shaheen: “We get on brilliantly but we’re just friends. I’ve been linked to Zack (Morris who plays Keegan) in the past too, but they’re both like brothers to me.”

Shaheen was also reportedly dating his former EastEnders co-star Amy Leigh Hickman, who played Linzi Bragg on the soap from 2016 to 2017.

Linzi was best known for her controversial storyline with Jay Brown (Jamie Northwick) after they started a relationship. Amy went on to play Nasreen Paracha in Ackley Bridge.

Shaheen Jafargholi with former EastEnders co-star Tilly Keeper
Shaheen Jafargholi with former EastEnders co-star Tilly Keeper at Tape Club in Mayfair (Credit: Hewitt /

How old is Shaheen Jafargholi? Where is he from?

Shaheen Jafargholi was born on January 23 1997, in Swansea, Wales.

His mother Karen Thomas is Welsh, while his father is Iranian.

Shaheen attended the Mark Jermin Stage School. It’s a performing arts school with year-round classes for four to 24-year-olds with bases in Wales and Surrey.

Read more: EastEnders’ Shaheen Jafargholi reveals dramatic makeover

YouTube video player

Watch Shaheen Jafargholi in Lost Boys & Fairies from Monday, June 3, 2024 on BBC iPlayer, or on BBC One that same day at 9pm.

Do you remember Shaheen on Britain’s Got Talent? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

Helen Fear
TV Editor