Abdullah Afzal has told of the heart-rending moment his mother died and the comfort he found in religion in a BBC broadcast.

The star of BBC One’s Citizen Khan also spoke of having “sleepless nights” wondering how to provide for his children as work dried up during the pandemic.

Speaking in an Islamic reflection on BBC local radio stations he says the Quran has reassured him during this difficult time, just as it did at his lowest ebb as a teenager.

“This is a verse I’ve always kept fresh in my mind and my heart,” he says. “A verse powerful enough to keep me calm during these unprecedented times, a verse I first heard in my most vulnerable moment, my most painful moment: 15 years old and watching my mother take her last breath. 

“My brothers, who I’d never seen even slightly emotional, were now crying like lost children.

“That’s what they were now, without the one constant they had in their life they were now lost children.  

“My dad, who I saw as a huge mountain… was weeping, unable to speak from the pain.”

The same verse is helping now as he looks at an uncertain future, Abdullah told the BBC.

“Being an actor and comedian during this pandemic is so very difficult,” he said.

“Finances are running low. I have two young children to care for and I have had sleepless nights. 

“I find myself thinking ‘what will I do? Will my children suffer because I chased my dreams of becoming an entertainer?’”

The  broadcast is still available on BBC Sounds here